Saturday, 30 May 2009

Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights


Andrew Carey, writing in this week's Church of England Newspaper, observes a growing convergence among political and religious liberals now more openly antagonistic toward evangelicals on moral and ethical issues.

"There is something chilling about the way Christian liberals are using secular orthodoxies to stamp out traditional and biblical beliefs in their own church. Canon Giles Fraser told government minister, Maria Eagle, at last week’s ‘Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights’ conference that there was absolutely no difference between these traditional beliefs on homosexuality and abusive homophobic chanting on the football terraces.

Think about it again — surely it’s beyond belief that the newly-appointed Canon Chancellor of St Paul’s equates the Church of England’s well-argued statement on the Equality Bill with the obscenities of the football hooligan? Furthermore, at the same conference we had the spectacle of the same government minister, together with Trevor Phillips of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, depicting the Evangelical Alliance as an ‘extremist’ group.

Let us not forget that the government has in the recent past courted religious groups such as the Evangelical Alliance because of their key contribution to ‘social capital’. Suddenly almost overnight a whole swathe of the population are religious extremists.

Looking at it another way, it’s clear that what we once considered extreme only a few years ago is now apparently mainstream. Thus Peter Tatchell who ‘outed’ public figures, stormed pulpits and advocated an age of consent at 14, is now seen as a moderate. Fringe groups such as the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement are apparently in greater favour with the government than the Archbishops’ Council. While views which were absolutely mainstream only a decade ago about marriage and sexuality, are now regarded as homophobic heresies.

Melanie Phillips points out that when something is considered a heresy, persecution can’t be far behind. She writes: “One of the key tenets —possibly the key tenet—of a liberal society is that it grants religious groups the freedom to practise their religious faith and live by its precepts. Preventing them from doing so is profoundly illiberal and oppressive — and it is not made any less so by the fact that ‘progressive’ voices inside the church themselves deem such precepts to be ‘homophobic’.”

The trouble is that the alliance of the government with so-called ‘progressive’ Christian groups represents the breakdown of trust in the Church. When you have Christians seeking to curtail the freedom of their co-religionists through instruments like the Equality Bill and the Equality and Human Rights Commission then you have a return to the religious persecutions of the past. I always find it disconcerting to hear liberal Anglicans describe evangelicals as ‘puritans’ because the trouble is that Puritans were indeed persecuted using the law of the day, and eventually ejected from the Church of England. And impatient with their slow rate of progress in winning the theological argument on human sexuality in the Church of England, liberal Anglicans resort instead to placing facts on the ground, and ultimately imposing change through Parliament and the courts on the Church of England, bypassing Synods and proper theological decision-making. Make no mistake about it, the Equality Bill will represent a victory for liberal Anglicans.

Previously the government has allowed exemptions from equalities legislation for any role deemed necessary for the ‘purposes’ of an organized exemption. But Maria Eagle has now said that the new bill will cover almost all church employees. “The circumstances in which religious institutions can practice anything less than full equality are few and far between,” she said. Only clergy, it seems, will now be exempt, though how long that will last, given the pressure from liberal Christian groups on an able and willing government, is anyone’s guess."

Read more here

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

George W. Bush and the Road to Armageddon

Ronald Reagan's fixation with Armageddon is well known (see ABC News and Time). What is less well known is that G.W. Bush appears to have shared similar apocalyptic theological views.

Clive Hamilton, an Australian visiting professor at Yale, has written an interesting piece for Counterpunch entitled, Bush, God, Iraq and Gog. In it he reports,

"In 2003 while lobbying leaders to put together the Coalition of the Willing, President Bush spoke to France’s President Jacques Chirac. Bush wove a story about how the Biblical creatures Gog and Magog were at work in the Middle East and how they must be defeated.

In Genesis and Ezekiel Gog and Magog are forces of the Apocalypse who are prophesied to come out of the north and destroy Israel unless stopped. The Book of Revelation took up the Old Testament prophesy:
“And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle … and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.”
Bush believed the time had now come for that battle, telling Chirac:

“This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins”.


The story of the conversation emerged only because the Elysée Palace, baffled by Bush’s words, sought advice from Thomas Römer, a professor of theology at the University of Lausanne. Four years later, Römer gave an account in the September 2007 issue of the university’s review, Allez savoir. The article apparently went unnoticed, although it was referred to in a French newspaper.


The story has now been confirmed by Chirac himself in a new book, published in France in March, by journalist Jean Claude Maurice. Chirac is said to have been stupefied and disturbed by Bush’s invocation of Biblical prophesy to justify the war in Iraq and “wondered how someone could be so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs”.

In the same year he spoke to Chirac, Bush had reportedly said to the Palestinian foreign minister that he was on “a mission from God” in launching the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and was receiving commands from the Lord.


There can be little doubt now that President Bush’s reason for launching the war in Iraq was, for him, fundamentally religious. He was driven by his belief that the attack on Saddam’s Iraq was the fulfilment of a Biblical prophesy in which he had been chosen to serve as the instrument of the Lord.


Many thousands of Americans and Iraqis have died in the campaign to defeat Gog and Magog.
That the US President saw himself as the vehicle of God whose duty was to prevent the Apocalypse can only inflame suspicions across the Middle East that the United States is on a crusade against Islam."

Where on earth did Bush get these wacky ideas from? Its hard to tell. Take your pick. There are literally hundreds of television evangelists, Pentecostal preachers and Fundamentalist pastors queuing up to offer the White House their spin on America's End Times 'Manifest Destiny' foreordained and predicted in the Bible.

John Hagee is one of the more influential. At the July 19th, 2006 Washington DC inaugural event for Christians United for Israel, after recorded greeting from George W. Bush, and in the presence of four US Senators as well as the Israeli ambassador to the US, John stated :”The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West… a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ.”

You can read more of Hagee's agenda here.

Hamilton concludes:

"There is a curious coda to this story. While a senior at Yale University George W. Bush was a member of the exclusive and secretive Skull & Bones society. His father, George H.W. Bush had also been a “Bonesman”, as indeed had his father. Skull & Bones’ initiates are assigned or take on nicknames. And what was George Bush Senior’s nickname? “Magog”".

Read the rest of Hamilton's article here

See developments over at Richard Bartholomew's blog here

Armageddon poster sourced with thanks from here.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

What none of them gets is...It's the morality stupid

In today's Daily Mail Melanie Phillips examines the response from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the scandal of MP's expenses. While we have disagreed on some issues, on this one I believe she has got it right.

"There has never been anything like it. The political class is disgraced. Public fury is unassuaged. Revolution is in the air. Yet our MPs are still obdurately behaving true to discredited form. Some are taking refuge in self-pity, claiming they are being driven to the edge of nervous breakdowns or even contemplating suicide. Certainly, public shaming is a savage ordeal. But since this has occurred only because MPs hid shameful behaviour which has now been exposed, such an appeal to public sympathy just adds insult to injury…

….It can’t be emphasised enough that it’s not the system that’s to blame, but the members of Parliament who have abused it. This is not a constitutional problem. It is a moral crisis. With MPs apparently incapable of recognising this fundamental fact, one would hope that the Church would do what we expect it to do and provide a moral lead. Dream on!

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, took instead the dismal MPs-are-victims line and called for a halt to the disclosures. In his view the point had already been ‘adequately made’, and the ‘continuing systematic humiliation of politicians’ would only undermine confidence in democracy.

Well, parliamentary democracy certainly has been undermined - not by those who have shone a light on the corruption of the system, but by those who have corrupted it.

How very depressing - if not altogether surprising - that the Archbishop of Canterbury, of all people, appears not to be able to distinguish between the two."

The whole article is here

Monday, 25 May 2009

Bankrupting the Liberal Church of Scotland


Mike Wade, writing in the Times Online today, warns that 'Evangelicals vow to hold back cash after Scott Rennie defeat'.

The impact of this decision will undoubtedly have ramifications way beyond the Church of Scotland.

Indeed it may set a precedent for similar direct action by evangelicals in Wales and England. Instead of 'Nimbyism' (not in my back yard), we may see the emergence of 'Nwomism' (not with our money).

Wade writes, "Traditionalists opposed to the appointment of gay ministers are planning a campaign of non-co-operation with the Kirk establishment, to deny the Church of Scotland hundreds of thousands of pounds in revenue.

The move is in retaliation against Saturday night’s vote at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to uphold the decision of Aberdeen Presbytery to appoint the Rev Scott Rennie to Queen’s Cross parish church, by 326 vote to 267. There were more than 250 abstentions, leaving Mr Rennie, a divorced father who lives with his male partner, admitting that the issue still had to be discussed further by the Church.

Mr Rennie, 37, who served on the Church of Scotland human sexuality taskforce two years ago, said that there were tens of gay ministers already working in the Church, who were afraid of coming out.

“Two gay minsters came to talk [to the taskforce] under anonymity. It's awful that people feel they have to have anonymity before they are free to talk,” he said. “There are issues here for the Church. A space has to be found for gay Christians to have their voices heard. You can’t have an open debate about sexuality if one party feels it is unsafe to talk.”

Evangelical commissioners were aghast at the result of Saturday’s vote in support of Mr Rennie’s appointment, which followed more than four hours of fierce debate. Many felt that proceedings had been rigged by their highly organised liberal opponents on the first day of the General Assembly, it having been ensured that a scheduled debate on the primacy of heterosexual marriage was held only after Mr Rennie’s position was ratified.

That overture (motion) on the sanctity of marriage, proposed by the traditionalist Presbytery of Lochcarron and Skye, will be debated today. Already, a number of counter-motions and amendments have been tabled by liberals which, their opponents fear, could see matters of sexual morality swept under the carpet and considered for a year or more by a Kirk commission, rather than debated on the floor of the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh.

Despite their defeat, evangelical leaders made clear that rather than quit the Church, they intended to fight their corner. They claim that their congregations are among the largest in the Kirk, and simply through the collection plate provide a substantial income stream which can be denied to the church authorities.

The impact of a freeze on collection contributions would be big. A petition against Mr Rennie’s appointment gained the signatures of 272 serving parish ministers, among the 964 listed in Scotland. Evangelicals say that their congregations are among the biggest, from a church membership of less than 500,000. The largest congregations can generate more than £100,000 per annum, up to two thirds being paid over to the church authorities.

The evangelical minsters the Rev David Court, of New Restalrig Church, Edinburgh, and the Rev William Philip, of St George’s-Tron, Glasgow, gave warning in a joint statment of the battles to come: “The General Assembly has shown itself to be seriously out of touch with its grassroots in the churches. But it should remember that these are the people who have — hitherto, at least — kept a creaking denomination afloat financially. There will be a great deal less willingness to do that from now on,” they said.

“People are not obliged to give,” added the Rev Richard Buckley, of Forward Together, a leading evangelical organisation. “As far as we are concerned the Church has sent out a wrong message about Christian morality. God has revealed the truth and . . . the Word of God stands for ever.”

Read the rest here.

Hear Willie Philip on the Church of Scotland vote.

Peter Ould has a Statement on Kirk's sexuality debate.

Republican Disaster -- The Evangelical/Zionist Anatomy of Meltdown

Frank Schaeffer, over on Huffington Post, has written a great piece about the Republican Disaster and its roots. Here's a taster:

"I was a Republican insider. For instance, the late Jack Kemp was a friend who I often advised on "connecting" with the Religious Right, until I left the Republican Party and the evangelical subculture and slammed the door behind me. During my last call with Jack he hung up on me. (I was backing McCain in 2000 and he was for W.) I want you to understand this context of my "insider's" comments here because they are going to strike you as shocking. So please let me recap some personal history.

My parents and I were the guests of the Reagans, Fords and Bush's in the White House and/or in other private meetings. Jack Kemp was so good a friend that he once interrupted a speech at a fund-raising banquet in Washington that I'd walked into late and walked from the podium to the back of the hall shook my hand introduced me to the assembled Republican leaders, then walked back to the podium and continued his speech. He did this because -- in those days -- I was an important link to the (then) powerful evangelical movement.

I was often in Jack's house with Jack and his wife Joanne who, at that time, was conducting a weekly Bible study group with other congressional wives called the "Schaeffer group," based on my father's books. In those days -- the 1970s and early 80s -- as both a staunch Republican and pro-life leader and the son of the famous evangelist, I was right in the middle of the Republican machine.

Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom -- in the 1970s my family was an integral part of bringing the Republican Party under the sway of the emerging Religious Right, particularly because of our support of the antiabortion movement. It was my father who talked Jerry Falwell into "taking a stand" on the "moral issues" of the day, which then morphed into the Moral Majority. Back in the 70s and early 80s Dad and I both appeared on the 700 Club many times, I preached from Jerry Falwell's pulpit and was the keynote speaker at the Religious Broadcasters and Christian Booksellers Association annual events several years running.

There came a day in 1985 (my dad had died in 1984) that I began to take another look at my commitment to the both the far right of Republican Party and the Religious Right. I came to realize that I was in bed with a group of people who were profoundly anti-American. They were professional haters. They wrapped themselves in the flag and "loved America," but it was an America in their imaginations only and cast in their image: white, middle-class, straight, born-again, homophobic and tinged with racism, not to mention misogyny.

The America most Americans lived in; diverse, open, tolerant and multi-ethnic was the America that the right would hardly even acknowledge. They "loved" an America that didn't exist, and hated the real country we live in. (I go into this in detail in two books; Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All -- or Almost All -- of It Back and also in my forthcoming Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don't Like Religion -- Or Atheism where I lay out an alternative to some very bad choices between the extremes.)

So what went wrong with the Republican Party? Believe me, it's all about religion!

Two religions (in the broadest sense of the term) have destroyed the Republican Party: evangelical Christianity and Christian/Jewish Zionism. Evangelical Christianity created the Religious Right which forever linked the Republican Party to the antiabortion, anti-sex education, anti-evolution and anti-gay crusades. And both Christian and Jewish Zionism linked the Republican Party to what became the neoconservative movement with its roots in such publications as Commentary magazine and their shrill Israel-can-do-no-wrong anti-Arab agenda. (I knew the late editor of Commentary Norman Podhoretz quite well, and we met several times to build alliances between evangelicals and the far American Zionist far right. When it came to Arabs, I believe he was a real racist.) I would not call Zionism per se a religion, but I'm talking about secular goals pursued with religious fervor.

I would call Zionism, American-style a politicized version of a religion. I also argue that the neo-con side got traction when religious Jews became Zionists and when religious Christians (evangelicals) hopped aboard to hasten the "Rapture." And I'd like to point out that American Zionists ally themselves with the Israeli hardliners, but that opinion in Israel is much more diverse and often tolerant than that, as is opinion among Jewish Americans, who do not by and large accept the AIPAC point of view uncritically.

The result of the Republican Party being taken over by these religious groups was that we got George W. Bush. His idea of governance was a hands-off, all-government-is-bad-government neglect, combined with an unnecessary war in Iraq inspired by a form of Zionism that sees all Arabs as a threat, Islam as evil, America as an exceptional place duty-bound "by God" to keep the world safe for evangelical Christian "values," on the one hand, and militant Christian and Jewish Zionism on the other. It is a poisonous blend. (It's not just Zionism, or a form of Zionism, that makes Americans hate Arabs. Anti-Arab, anti-Muslim images in America go way back and some right wing evangelicals and Jews merely tap into that racism.)

Evangelical/Christian Zionism has been bad for the State of Israel too. It has helped put that country into a permanent defensive crouch in which there is now perhaps no way out from destruction that comes to all people who see everyone else (from the EU to the UN to the Arabs and Iran) as a threat. The building of the illegal West Bank settlements and turning the Gaza Strip into what amounts to a concentration camp, combined with demographic reality will doom the State of Israel if a two state peace agreement is not reached and reached fast. But Christian Zionists have done all they can to undermine peace in the name of fulfilling "biblical prophecy" as have the far right of the Jewish Zionists, people like my old friend Norman Podhoretz.

With "friends" like the Christian Zionists -- exemplified by the Reverend John Hagee and many others who "support" Israel while eagerly waiting for the "return of Christ" and the destruction of all "unbelieving Jews" -- Israel needs no enemies. Given that the hard-line American Christian Zionists encouraged the Republican Party to become the party of permanent war to keep the State of Israel "safe" they have actually helped set the stage for its destruction. And therefore the Republicans also opened the door to our national economic ruin as well. The two are linked; eternal war and ruin, because our permanent wars (thinly veiled excuses to "keep Israel safe") are never paid for by increased taxes or a draft. (Disclosure: my son served in the Marines and was deployed.)

Read more here
See Frank's website here

Saturday, 23 May 2009

The Truth about Angels and Demons


Check out this great new site The Truth about Angels and Demons.

Josh Kimball has written this critique for Christianity Today:

"Most Christians familiar with his works will agree that author Dan Brown’s first bestseller, Angels and Demons, is nowhere near as blasphemous – if at all – as his second, The Da Vinci Code.

But there are still a number who will be encouraging others to pass on the upcoming movie adaptation of the first novel to keep Brown from financially reaping off what critics say are lies that he asserts as facts.

“Dan Brown says in his book that the Illuminati are ‘factual’ and that they were ‘hunted ruthlessly by the Catholic Church,’” notes Catholic League president Bill Donohue, referring to the Enlightenment-era secret society that is the focus of the upcoming "Angels and Demons" movie.

Furthermore, as Donohue points out, Brown said in a promotional interview that the Illuminati “vowed vengeance against the Vatican in the 1600s.”

“The early Illuminati – those of Galileo's day – were expelled from Rome by the Vatican and hunted mercilessly,” the author had said.

Donohue, however, says “all of this is a lie”, noting that the Illuminati were founded in 1776 and were dissolved in 1787.

“It is obvious that Galileo and Bernini could not possibly have been members,” he argues, referring to the two 17th century scientists. “Galileo died in 1647 and Bernini passed away in 1680. More important, the Catholic Church never hunted, much less killed, a single member of the Illuminati.”

Donohue made his comments shortly after The Huffington Post published an op-ed by Academy Award-winning American filmmaker and producer Ron Howard regarding his upcoming adaptation of Angels and Demons.

In the piece, Howard responded to criticisms issued by Donohue and insisted that the movie is a work of fiction and also not anti-Catholic.

“Let me be clear: neither I nor ‘Angels & Demon’s are anti-Catholic,” he wrote last Tuesday. “And let me be a little controversial: I believe Catholics, including most in the hierarchy of the Church, will enjoy the movie for what it is: an exciting mystery, set in the awe-inspiring beauty of Rome.

“After all, in ‘Angels & Demons’, Professor Robert Langdon teams up with the Catholic Church to thwart a vicious attack against the Vatican. What, exactly, is anti-Catholic about that?” the producer asked.

Howard also said he has respect for “Catholics and their Church”, knowing that they accomplish many good works throughout the world.

“And I believe ‘Angels & Demons’ treats the Church with respect – even a degree of reverence – for its traditions and beliefs,” he added.

Donohue, however, said he has evidence of the anti-Catholic animus harboured by those associated with the film and that his organization knows from a Canadian priest, who hung out with Howard’s crew last summer in Rome dressed in civilian clothes, “just how much they hate Catholicism”.

“It’s time to stop the lies and come clean,” Donohue responded.

While Howard did not address the “lies” that Donohue claimed author Brown had asserted as truth, the producer concluded his piece by encouraging Donohue to first see the movie, saying that “faith is believing without seeing and a boycott would be disbelieving without seeing.

“Then he will finally witness, and perhaps believe, that what I say is true,” he wrote.

On the web:

Op-ed by Ron Howard at www.huffingtonpost.com

Peter Rainer at Christian Science Monitor


Friday, 22 May 2009

Where is the Church of England’s heart invested?


Over at Ekklesia, staff writers, Jonathan Bartley and Simon Barrow have written a major paper designed to stimulate discussion on church investment policy. They write in the wake of the loss of a cool £1.3 billion the Church of England had invested in shares and property. The Church still has significant assets and therefore large responsibilities.

Their paper looks at some of the difficulties and contradictions of the Church's investment and finance policy, particularly the dislocation of decision making about money from integral mission and economic justice, which is both practically and theologically deficient. Acknowledging both the good intentions towards ethical practice and the constraints imposed by the legal and Established framework of the C of E, the paper argues that for Christian churches, economics needs to be re-located in the subversive and alternative calling of a Gospel community in an unjust world. It suggests there are many positive ways forward.

Introduction: dualism and mixed messages

The first half of May 2009 signalled mixed financial news for the Church of England. On the one hand, it proudly announced that public donations for the joint Zimbabwe emergency and development appeal launched by the Anglican Archbishops of Canterbury and York had reached £292,330 [1]. On the other, it also admitted that it had lost a sum almost 4,500 times as much - £1.3 billion – through its investments in shares and property. [2] That amounts to around a fifth of its investment wealth.

But the Church still has £4.4 billion. [3] To put that it in context, Christian Aid Week [4] with its national programme of events, high profile media campaign, and backing from churches and campaigners up and down the country aims to raise just £15 million or so for the world’s poor. The C of E, by contrast, has a huge commitment to the chunk of its assets tied up in pensions and buildings.

Read more here

King Abdullah: Peace or War in 18 Months

Last week the Times Newspaper interviewed King Abdullah of Jordan on his recent meeting with President Obama. The interview is immensely important. It shows that, following eight lamentable years of procrastination by the Bush Administration, unwilling or unable to ensure Israel meets its international obligations, patience in the Arab world is finally running out.

With the election of Barak Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, the negotiating positions of the US and Israel are probably further apart now than any time since 1967. The stakes for achieving a Middle East peace deal, not just with the Palestinians but the entire Arab world, have never been higher.

Jonathan Marcus, BBC's diplomatic correspondant says "If you cannot resolve a problem, make it bigger". The fear is that, if Israel cannot get its own way, it will try and initiate a war with Iran. Hence, this initiative by King Abdullah and President Obama

During his upcoming visit to Egypt when Obama is scheduled to give a major speech on US relations with Islam, he may very well take the opportunity to launch what is being touted as the '57 State' solution. Most likely a revision to the Saudi Plan - Israel will be required to withdraw to the 1967 borders in return for a deal over the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Most importantly, Israel will be offered recognition by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC). The difference this time is , it seems, the US Administration is buying it.

And as an added incentive, King Abdullah warns, "If we delay our peace negotiations, then there is going to be another conflict between Arabs or Muslims and Israel in the next 18 months".

Notice the King does not say 'may' but 'there is' going to be another conflict. And this time it will be one where there are no winners. Following the failure of the Road Map and Annapolis Agreements, this may, therefore, very well be the last attempt to resolve the Palestinian issue peacefully. Here is a transcript.

So this is good timing between your visit to Washington and before President Obama’s visit to Cairo?

I concentrated in my discussions with him on his being the spiritual dimension while I work on the politics of this. The trickle-down effect to the people has always been the challenge. So the message of reconciliation, the message of hope for the future of Jerusalem comes at a perfect time because there has been a flurry of activity over the past six weeks, after the Doha summit and what the Arab nations are doing as part of the Arab peace proposal. [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu’s expected visit to Washington next week will be the turning point.

Obviously, I’m sure President Obama is keeping his cards close to his chest until he hears what Prime Minister Netanyahu has to say. I think the President is committed to the two-state solution. He is committed to the two-state solution now. He feels the urgency of the need to move today. Because we’re not working for peace in a vacuum, with others not there. So this is a critical moment.

A cynic might say, we’ve had the Annapolis peace conference, we’ve had the road map for peace, the Arab initiative, almost a decade with no results. What’s the difference now?

Four or five decades! There are two major factors. We are sick and tired of the process. We are talking about direct negotiations. That is a major point. We are approaching this in a regional context. You could say through the Arab peace proposal. The Americans see this as we do and I think the Europeans. Britain is playing a very vital pro-active role, more than I have ever seen in the ten years of my experience in bringing people together.

What we are talking about is not Israelis and Palestinians sitting at the table, but Israelis sitting with Palestinians, Israelis sitting with Syrians, Israelis sitting with Lebanese. And with the Arabs and the Muslim world lined up to open direct negotiations with Israelis at the same time. So it’s the work that needs to be done over the next couple of months that has a regional answer to this — that is not a two-state solution, it is a 57-state solution.

That is the tipping point that shakes up Israeli politicians and the Israeli public. Do you want to stay Fortress Israel for the next ten years? The calamity that that would bring to all of us, including the West? This has become a global problem. We are saying to the Israelis that this is an issue that is far bigger than you Israelis and the Palestinians. This is where I think the Obama Administration gets it. I am very, very concerned about having a conference in six months' time, and another one in a year’s time, that doesn’t work. I think we’re going to have to do a lot of shuttle diplomacy, get people to a table in the next couple of months to get a solution.

So you are front-loading an offer to the Israelis that says if a deal is done, these are the people who will be making peace with you, whom you will be having embassies with and whom you will be trading with?

If you consider that a third of the world does not recognise Israel — 57 nations of the United Nations do not recognise Israel, a third of the world — their international relationships can’t be all that good. More countries recognise North Korea than Israel. That is a very strong statement when we are offering a third of the world to meet them with open arms. The future is not the Jordan river or the Golan Heights or Sinai, the future is Morocco in the Atlantic to Indonesia in the Pacific. I think that’s the prize.

There have been reports that the Americans have asked you to clarify certain parts of the Arab initiative, in particular the status of Jerusalem and the future of Palestinian refugees.

I was very specific in carrying a letter on behalf of the Arab League highlighting the Arab peace proposal, their desire to work with President Obama to make this successful, their commitment to extending the hand of friendship to the Israelis and a lot of other things that we could probably do for the world.

Are these reports malicious?

It’s hard to say. I’d like to think they’re not malicious, it’s just people with a lot of extra time on their hands. The speculation is very far from reality.

You have a very right-wing Government in Israel which does not even accept a two-state solution. How do you overcome that?

We have to deal with what we’re stuck with. Just because there is a right-wing government in Israel does not mean that we should chuck in the towel. There are a lot of American Jews and Israelis who tell me that it takes a right-wing Israeli government to do it. I said, I hope so! Netanyahu has a lot on his shoulders as he goes to Washington. I think the international atmosphere is not going to be in favour of wasting time; it is going to be very much “we are getting sick and tired of this”.

Here is one final opportunity. If the only player in this equation between the West, the Arabs and the Muslims that is not being helpful and is against peace is Israel, then let’s call it for what it is. Let Israel understand that the world sees Israeli policy for what it is.

Have you dealt with Netanyahu before?

I had three months with the overlap [after the death of King Hussein]. These were probably the least pleasant of my ten years. However, a lot has happened in the last ten years and we are looking at the bigger picture, and looking for what’s best for Israel, which I believe is the two-state solution.

How about Jerusalem?

It is not an international problem, it is an international solution. Jerusalem unfortunately has been a symbol of conflict for so many centuries. From the start of this new century what we desperately need is for Jerusalem to become a symbol of hope. How do you encourage the three monotheistic religions to make Jerusalem into a pillar for the future of this century? I am sensing a lot more maturity and understanding in these troubled times of cultural and religious suspicions that Jerusalem could be a binder that we need.

Do you think you can bring Syria on board?

The Syrians definitely see the benefit of peace negotiations with Israel, and I’m hoping in my discussions with their foreign minister on my visit to Damascus tomorrow that they understand that this is a regional approach, because I strongly believe that a bilateral approach between Israel and Syria would be used by one or the other side to waste time. I think that this regional approach that Obama is looking at and which is endorsed by all of us, of getting all three of them at the table at the same time, sends a powerful message to Israel and a powerful commitment to solving the Lebanese and Syrian problems at the same time.

So there is a tremendous opportunity for Syria to benefit from the regional context of this and ingratiate itself into the West. So it is my real hope that they see how the dynamic approach has changed and they see this as part of a team. There is hope now that it’s a win-win situation for everyone. What’s good for the Palestinians is good for the Syrians, is good for the Lebanese.

Isn’t this a reversal of the traditional policy of Syria of wanting a comprehensive solution?

Well, they said that but they didn’t mean it. The comprehensive approach is the only way.

Netanyahu is going to Cairo and Washington. How do you see the process moving forward?

The critical juncture will be what comes out of the Obama-Netanyahu meeting. If there is procrastination by Israel on the two-state solution or there is no clear American vision for how this is going to play out in 2009, then all the tremendous credibility that Obama has worldwide and in this region will evaporate overnight if nothing comes out in May. All eyes will be looking to Washington in May. If there are no clear signals and no clear directives to all of us, then there will be a feeling that this is just another American government that is going to let us all down.

If you don’t succeed in your peace plans, will it matter?

We’re going to have a war. Leading up to the Lebanese war, I said there was going to be a conflict with Israel. I said it four or five months before. I said it would happen either in Lebanon or Gaza. It was Lebanon. In November, I said there would be another war in Lebanon or Gaza. I thought it would happen when Obama was in office but was surprised by it happening a month earlier. If we delay our peace negotiations, then there’s going to be another conflict between Arabs or Muslims and Israel in the next 12 to 18 months — as sure as the other conflicts happened.

So that’s the alternative — to have another round of war, and death and destruction. But its implications now resonate far beyond the Middle East region. There are other challenges in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We have a lot more on our plate to deal with. If the call is in May that this is not the right time or we are not interested, then the world is going to be sucked into another conflict in the Middle East.

See also UN backs King Abdullah's campaign to avert war

Additional reporting in the Daily Telegraph

Fake Israeli maps removed from London Underground

Israeli tourism posters being removed from London Underground!

Israeli tourism ads are being removed from the tube, following massive pressure and complaints.

Late last week, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign started to receive information from members about adverts that they had seen on the London Underground. The adverts by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism and ThinkIsrael included a map that included the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, together with Jews for Justice for Palestinians, immediately started working to bring these adverts down. We complained to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) ourselves, and notified our members and supporters, many of whom also made complaints to the ASA, Transport for London and CBS Outdoor, which was the company that put up the adverts.

Sarah Colborne, Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Director of Campaigns and Operations, said:

‘The Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomes the removal of these adverts, which had a map showing Israel as including the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights – which are all illegally occupied by Israel. These adverts wiped Palestine off the map. It was particularly grotesque to use this map in an advert for tourism, given that under the Israeli blockade of Gaza, even humanitarian aid staff are denied entry.

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign had found the posters astonishing, given that the ASA had already upheld a previous complaint against ThinkIsrael.com for using a similarly misleading map in an advertisement placed in the Radio Times in 2007’.

On that occasion, the ASA ruled that ThinkIsrael.com had breached the ‘truthfulness’ clause, and also the ‘non-response’ clause, when it failed to reply to ASA’s correspondence. PSC welcomes the deluge of complaints from members and supporters on this issue.

See original blog article

See BBC update

Israel is still using fake maps. See Phillip Weiss

Thursday, 21 May 2009

+ Suheil Dawani and Jimmy Carter Reaffirm Support for President Obama and the Two State Solution

National Christian leaders meeting at The Carter Center on May 14-15 sent the following letter to President Barack Obama following two days of discussions on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Citing a growing sense of despair in the Holy Land, the letter conveys to the President support for his efforts to push for a two-state solution and calls for an immediate opening of the Gaza borders.

The diverse group included the Rev Mark S. Hanson, presiding bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Jim Wallis, president and chief executive officer, Sojourners; the Rev. Dr. William Shaw, president of National Baptist Convention, Inc.; the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, Anglican bishop in Jerusalem; Ambassador Warren Clark, executive director, Churches for Middle East Peace; Dr. Bob Roberts, Jr., founder and senior pastor, North Wood Church; and others. In response to requests from leading members in the Christian community, The Carter Center agreed to host the conference. Planning for the conference began prior to the election of 2008. Anticipating the arrival of a new administration in Washington, the Carter Center's Human Rights Program agreed to convene a conference Towards a New Christian Consensus: Peace with Justice in the Holy Land.

Its purpose would be to present to the new administration the collective conviction and Christian understanding among the participants of the importance of immediate action to seek "peace with justice in the Holy Land".

At the close of the two day conference, the participants crafted a brief letter , which was sent to President Barack Obama Friday. The text of the letter and the names of those who signed it follow:

May 15, 2009

Dear President Obama,

We are a diverse group of Christian leaders convened in Atlanta, who have been meeting for the past two days. As you prepare for meetings with Israeli, Palestinian, and other Arab leaders, we offer you our support, encouragement and commitment. We have heard testimony consistent with the experiences of our churches in the Holy Land about a growing sense of despair. Yet, at this meeting we sense a rising hope. That hope is grounded in the growing consensus across the Christian community that supports a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the new leadership that you bring, both of which will make more possible a real, just, and lasting two-state solution and an end to conflict in the region that upholds the security and freedom of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Our pledge to you is to continue to build constituencies that will advocate for a just political settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We request that you call upon Prime Minister Netanyahu to embrace the principle of a two-state solution. As members of your administration have already suggested, we share a concern about how Israeli settlements make that solution less and less possible. Furthermore, we are concerned that a way be found immediately to open the Gaza borders in a manner that respects both humanitarian and security concerns.

We are committed to an ongoing conversation with you about achieving the solution we can no longer postpone. Know that we are praying for you in these critical meetings.


The Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel, Presbyterian Minister, Executive Director of AMIS, Inc, and Moderator of the 214th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

The Rev. Dr. Jimmy R. Allen, Coordinator, New Baptist Covenant

The Rev. Dr. Randall C. Bailey, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Hebrew Bible, Interdenominational Theological Center

The Rev. Bruce Burnside, Bishop of the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Ambassador Warren Clark, Executive Director, Churches for Middle East Peace

Dr. Elizabeth Corrie, Director of the Youth Theological Initiative and Assistant Professor of Youth Education and Peacebuilding, Candler School of Theology, Emory University

The Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem

Dr. Joy Fenner, Former President, Baptist General Convention of Texas

James Fine, Legislative Secretary for Foreign Policy, Friends Committee on National Legislation

Ms. Beth Fogg, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship

The Rev. Dr. David Goatley, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention

Dr. Marsha Snulligan Haney, Professor of Missiology and Religions of the World, Interdenominational Theological Center

The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and President, Lutheran World Federation

Lynne Hybels, Advocate for Global Engagement, Willow Creek Community Church

The Rev. Charles Jones, Area Director for Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, American Baptist Foreign Mission Society

The Rev. John McCullough, Executive Director and CEO, Church World Service

The Rev. Dr. Kathy Nelson, Pastor, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and F.I.S.H. Foundation, Inc.

The Rev. Gradye Parsons, General Assembly Stated Clerk for the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.

The Rev. Canon John L. Peterson, Canon for Global Justice and Reconciliation, Washington National Cathedral

Dr. Bob Roberts, Jr., Founder and Senior Pastor, North Wood Church

Leila Sansour, Executive Director, Open Bethlehem

The Rev. Dr. William Shaw, President of National Baptist Convention, Inc.

Ronald J. Sider, Professor at Palmer Theological Seminary, Philadelphia, and President of Evangelicals for Social Action

The Rev. Dr. T. DeWitt Smith, President, Progressive National Baptist Convention

James M. Wall, Contributing Editor, Christian Century and former Editor

Jim Wallis, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sojourners

Ambassador Phil C. Wilcox, Jr., Director, Foundation for Middle East Peace

The Rev. Robina Marie Winbush, Associate Stated Clerk and Director, Department of Ecumenical and Agency Relations, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Bishop Mouneer Anis and the Demise of the Anglican Covenant


Bishop Mouneer writes on his Diocesan Website a moving epitaph to the Anglican Covenant:

"With hope and anticipation we went to Jamaica to participate in the ACC 14 meeting. The Anglican Covenant was the most important item in our agenda. Its importance arises from fact that it is the only hope left to keep the unity of the Anglican Communion. It was very encouraging seeing the Archbishop of Canterbury, many other participants, and our ecumenical partners supporting the Covenant wholeheartedly. All that was required from the ACC was to agree to send the whole text of the Covenant to the Provinces for discussion and adoption.

In his first presidential address Archbishop Rowan Williams appealed to the ACC members by these words: "Before we say goodbye to each other we owe it to the Lord of the church to make that effort to have those conversations and take each other seriously in the gospel. My hope is that this report[1] will help us to do this." It is worth mentioning that the report of the Windsor Continuation Group (WCG) has affirmed the importance of the Covenant, recommended the continuation of the moratoria, and the establishing of the pastoral form.

Strenuous opposition:

Unfortunately, the Episcopal Church in America (TEC) and a few other churches were strongly opposing the idea of the Covenant especially section 4[2]. Their excuse was that this section is new and has not been studied enough by the Provinces as the other sections have been. They have forgotten that this particular section of the Covenant is in fact the outcome of many deliberations and responses that came from dioceses as well as bishops who attended the Lambeth Conference in 2008. In addition to this, section 4 was already present in the commentary of the St. Andrews draft of the Covenant that was sent to the provinces after the Lambeth Conference. I personal believe that we will never have a perfect Covenant that could be accepted by all, even if we spend another 10 years working in it. TEC also described section 4 as "punitive." In response to this, it was clarified that the Covenant gives guidance to the Provinces which are responsible for making their own decisions. The Covenant also does not require any changes in the constitutions of the Provinces. In addition to this, section 4 allows Provinces to make amendments to the Covenant after it is accepted. In fact, it is because that section 4 is not strong enough many conservatives described the Covenant as very weak and useless.

My own impression is that the fear behind accepting the text of the Covenant, especially section 4, originates from the desire to avoid anything binding which would affirm the interdependence of the Anglican churches. Denying the interdependence of churches is contrary to the very meaning of the word "Communion." For this reason without this section, the "Covenant" would not be a Covenant and the word "Communion" would lose its meaning.

Unfair Process Increases the Distrust:

Sadly, the way many things were planned for the ACC 14 meetings helped to undermine the Covenant supporting voices. These were voices from provinces which are happy, for the sake of the unity of the Anglican Communion, to accept the Ridley Covenant draft. The carefully chosen resolution committee, which was responsible for drafting all resolutions, was composed of five members three of them are from three provinces (TEC, Scotland, and NZ) which strongly oppose the Covenant. The other two members are from the United Church of South India (CSI) and Ghana. CSI made it clear that they will not be able to adopt an Anglican Covenant because they are a union of different churches.

The discussion of the Covenant was done in discernment groups of 20 each. The advantage of this arrangement was that it gave every member the opportunity to share his/her views. However, the disadvantage was that each group did not know the views of the other groups. The outcome of the group discussions would go directly to the resolution committee by the member of this committee in each group. We were able, through private investigations, to know that most of the groups except one were supportive of the Covenant as a whole. Sadly, this majority support of the Covenant was not reflected in the resolutions that were presented to us by the resolution committee. In fact, the first resolution that was put in front of us (resolution A) suggested the detachment of section 4 from the Covenant. Many have spoken against this resolution including the Archbishop of Canterbury.

This resolution A was defeated by the majority. However, it was a shock for us when it was decided to bring two clauses from this defeated resolution as amendments to resolution B. Many of our African and Asian brothers and sisters were confused by this especially after they rejoiced when resolution A was rejected. Then I objected and requested a legal advice in this matter but the chairman decided not to deal with my request[3].

False victory and lost opportunity:

As a result of this manipulative process, the sending of the Covenant text to the provinces was deferred with the hope of playing further games. The postponement of the Covenant was perceived by some, especially TEC, as a great victory. This was clear from their press reports. Those who think that they won the victory are in fact the losers of a great opportunity and hope for healing of our wounded Communion.

In March 2007 the standing committee of TEC rejected the Pastoral Scheme[4], which was suggested by the primates meeting in Dar Es Salam, and claimed that it is against her polity. Immediately after this rejection several consecrations of new American bishops took place by African Primates and several dioceses decided to leave TEC. The postponement of the Covenant may produce similar serious consequences.

The Clear Stand of the Archbishop Rowan:

I know that some of my colleagues try to blame the Archbishop of Canterbury for the delay of the Covenant. In response to this, I want to say that I was amazed by the strong and clear stand of Archbishop Rowan in support of the whole Covenant with section 4 included. He says: "The AC [Anglican Communion] suffers from a lack of clarity of what kind of fellowship it's meant to be. So long as we have that unclarity we will be unclear about what we really mean by church. The AC has never called itself a church. Yet as a world wide communion, it has claimed for itself that it is precisely more than just an assembly of local churches. It has tried go behave in a church like way. Do we want to be a communion behaving in a church like way with some sacraments, ministry, and doctrine, with some clarity ...or do we want to operate in a way where Anglicanism is a far more dispersed family ...where we no longer act like a unit in the Anglican world? I am not persuaded by that case but it's there. It is possible to think about an Anglican future where churches exist in a vague global cluster with no organs for acting together. That is a very significant step away from what we have regular assumed about the communion. I maintain that something more "covenantal" is needed." It is because of his strong conviction; Archbishop Rowan stood several times to support the Covenant and the unity of the Anglican Communion.

In his last Presidential address, Archbishop Rowan said "....I would want to say with great emphasis, don't please put off discussion of the Covenant simply because of that detail we are finalizing. The texts are out there. Please pray them through and talk them through, starting now". "But meanwhile the texts are on the table. Talk about them. Begin the discernment. Begin that intelligent engagement with those texts as soon as you can".

Turning the Despair into Joy:

In view of all this, I am now convinced that we have a great opportunity to turn around the whole situation. We can do this if we, as dioceses and Provinces, started to discuss, make comments and adopt the Covenant without any further delay. Those who will sign the Covenant will form a strong covenantal fellowship. Such fellowship will not, in any way, introduce changes in the present structures of the Anglican Communion, rather it will encourages churches to deepen their communion with each other so that they would be able to advance the mission of the Gospel and the Kingdom of God without the distraction of the current crisis . This will bring real hope and true unity to our beloved Communion.

+Mouneer Egypt

The Most Rev. Dr. Mouneer Hanna Anis

Bishop of the Anglican/Episcopal Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa

President Bishop of the Anglican/Episcopal Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East


[1] The report of the Windsor Continuation Group.

[2] For the Covenant Sections see http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/ridley_cambridge/draft_text.cfm

[3] The whole session was televised and recorded at http://www.anglicantv.org/

[4] See this Pastoral Scheme in Dar Es Salam primates meeting at http://www.aco.org/communion/primates/resources/downloads/communique2007_english.pdf

See also:

ACC Bishops from Egypt, Peru and Nigeria reflect on the delay to the Covenant


Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The Very Long Arm of the US Office of Foreign Assets Control


Interpal were recently cleared for the third time by the Charity Commissioners of any wrong doing in its charitable work relieving the suffering of Palestinian refugees.

In the Inquiry Report published in February by the Charity Commission, they found no evidence to substantiate spurious allegations of illegal activity on the part of the Charity.

Sadly, that is not good enough it seems. The Coop, for example, recently refused to supply Interpal with banking facilities. When asked why, this was their candid reply:

Please find below clarification outlining why The Co‑operative Bank has taken the decision not to provide banking services to the charity Interpal at this present time.

We understand that late in 2008 Interpal's bankers (Lloyds TSB) provided notice that they intended to cease providing clearing services on their behalf.

As a consequence Interpal contacted The Co‑operative Bank and asked if we would be in a position to provide them with the clearing services they required.
Our decision not to offer banking facilities to Interpal was based solely on the fact that Interpal are named on the sanctions list issued by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). OFAC is an agency of the US Department of Treasury and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy.

OFAC has the power to seize payments made to or from individuals or entities named on their sanction lists. This position has not changed since December 2008 and Interpal remains on the OFAC list, consequently there is a risk to The Co‑operative Bank and to Interpal that any foreign payments made to or from an Interpal bank account may be seized by the US Government.

If The Co‑operative Bank agreed to provide banking services to Interpal we ourselves could be fined by the US Government for non‑compliance with their sanctions regime.


Consequently, our decision not to offer banking facilities to Interpal whilst they remain on the OFAC list still stands. Should Interpal be removed from the OFAC list, The Co‑operative Bank would be willing to reconsider this decision in the future.


You sincerely,

Russ Brady
Head of Corporate Affairs

So there you have it. Blackmail, US style.

Sea Change in American Attitudes Toward Israel

The first meeting between the newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and President Barak Obama at the White House last Monday marks an historic and defining change in the 'special' relationship between the United States and Israel sealed thirty years ago when Jimmy Carter and Menachin Begin were both elected in the mid 1970s.

Nurtured by evangelical leaders such as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, the Christian Right became leading advocates for Israel in the 1980s working hand in glove with AIPAC. A tripartite coalition emerged between the Israeli Right, Evangelicals and the Neo Conservatives in the US Administration. They ensured US foreign policy in the Middle East coincided with that of Israel. The signs are, however, that this is set to change under the new Obama Administration.

Just as the sub-prime mortgage scandal exposed the bankruptcy of many of America's financial institutions, so growing numbers of Americans are waking up to the fact that the so called "loan guarantees" which fund Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine are not in the best interests of the USA. And continually vetoing resolutions critical of Israel in the United Nations is not winning America any new friends either. While George W. Bush brokered the Road-Map his adminstration did nothing in eight long years to implement it.

As Philip Weiss comments "The Israel lobby has always feared public awareness. But the Iraq war and Gaza have ended the politics of ignorance; awareness is growing, especially on the left."

This is corroborated by the findings of an interactive poll conducted by Zogby International about US attitudes toward the conflict in the Middle East.

Robert Dreyfuss in The Nation claims "The results suggest that Obama would have strong support for a hands-on US diplomatic effort to forge an Israel-Palestine deal, even if it means pressure on Israel.

According to the poll, when asked if the United States should "get tough" with Israel in order to back up its call for an end to settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, fully 50 percent of Americans said yes, with just 19 percent saying "do nothing," and 32 percent not sure.

Even though Americans have a high opinion of Israel (by a 71-21 margin) and a low opinion of the Palestinians (by a 25-66 margin) in terms of favorability, overall -- not just in regard to settlements -- Americans say that it's "time for the United States to get tough with Israel" by a surprising 45-44 margin.

Hiding in those numbers, however, is an overwhelming partisan gap, and that is the really striking thing about the Zogby poll.

Asked whether the interests of Israel and the US are identical, only 28 percent of Obama voters agreed, while 59 percent disagreed. Among McCain voters, it was the reverse: 78 percent of McCain voters said US and Israel interests were identical and 15 percent said they are not.

Asked about Netanyahu, the favorability rating for Obama voters was 29-49 percent, while the rating for McCain voters was a lopsided 82-9 percent.

And on the crucial question, is it time to get tough with Israel, the gap was a veritable Grand Canyon. Among Obama voters, 71 percent agreed and 18 percent disagreed. Among McCain voters, 16 percent agreed and 73 percent disagreed.

Similar divides showed up on virtually every question asked.

What does it mean? It says that President Obama will have the support of his base, including Democrats and Independents, if he decides to force the issue in coming months with the Israeli leader. According to John Zogby, part of the reason is demographic: black voters, Hispanic voters, and young (18-30) voters are far less attached to the US-Israeli special relationship than are older, more traditional voters, especially among Christian evangelicals."

Since Israel has just issued tenders for the construction of a new illegal settlement at Maskiot, the first test may very well be whether President Obama links the continuation of US loan guarantees with Israel's compliance of its international obligations under the Road-Map and Annapolis Agreement.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Hart of the Matter: Christian Zionism

This programme is one of a 13 part series called “Hart of the Matter” aired between October 2008 and January 2009, on Press.TV - a programme committed to telling viewers the truth - the truth about who must do what and why if the Palestine problem, the cancer at the heart of international affairs, is to be cured before it consumes us all. You can also download the audio (mp3)

The Forgotten Faithful

The June edition of National Geographic has a superb article about the Palestinian Christian community. Written by Don Belt, and entitled "The Forgotten Faithful" the article traces how "Followers of Jesus for nearly 2,000 years, native Christians today are disappearing from the land where their faith was born."

Easter in Jerusalem is not for the faint of heart. The Old City, livid and chaotic in the calmest of times, seems to come completely unhinged in the days leading up to the holiday. By the tens of thousands, Christians from all over the world pour in like a conquering horde, surging down the Via Dolorosa's narrow streets and ancient alleyways, seeking communion in the cold stones or some glimmer, perhaps, of the agonies Jesus endured in his final hours. Every face on Earth seems to float through the streets during Easter, every possible combination of eye and hair and skin color, every costume and style of dress, from blue-black African Christians in eye-popping dashikis to pale Finnish Christians dressed as Jesus with a bloody crown of thorns to American Christians in sneakers and "I [heart] Israel" caps, clearly stoked for the battle of Armageddon.

They come because this is where Christianity began. Here in Jerusalem and on lands nearby are the stony hills where Jesus walked and taught and died—and later, where his followers prayed and bled and battled over what his teaching would become. Huddled alongside Jewish converts in the caves of Palestine and Syria, Arabs were among the first to be persecuted for the new faith, and the first to be called Christians. It was here in the Levant—a geographical area including present-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and the Pales­tinian territories—that hundreds of churches and monasteries were built after Constantine, emperor of Rome, legalized Christianity in 313 and declared his Levantine provinces holy land. Even after Arab Muslims conquered the region in 638, it remained predominantly Christian.

Ironically, it was during the Crusades (1095-1291) that Arab Christians, slaughtered along with Muslims by the crusaders and caught in the cross fire between Islam and the Christian West, began a long, steady retreat into the minority. Today native Christians in the Levant are the envoys of a forgotten world, bearing the fierce and hunted spirit of the early church. Their communities, composed of various Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant sects, have dwindled in the past century from a quarter to about 8 percent of the population as the current generation leaves for economic reasons, to escape the region's violence, or because they have relatives in the West who help them emigrate. Their departure, sadly, deprives the Levant of some of its best educated and most politically moderate citizens—the people these societies can least afford to lose. And so, for Jerusalem's Arab Christians, there is a giddiness during Easter, as if, after a long and lonely ordeal, much needed reinforcements have arrived.

In a small apartment on the outskirts of the city, a young Palestinian Christian couple I will call Lisa and Mark are preparing to enter the fray. Lisa, still in jeans and a T-shirt, is struggling to get their 18-month-old daughter, Nadia, into a white Easter dress. Mark, in his pajamas, is trying without success to prevent their three-year-old son, Nate, whose mood ricochets between Spiderman and Attila the Hun, from trashing the brand new pants-and-vest outfit they've wrestled him into—or the TV, or the painting of child Jesus on the wall, or the vase of flowers on the table. Mark, a big, hot-running guy, grimaces in exasperation. It's eight o'clock on a chilly morning in March, and he's already sweating profusely. Yet it's Easter, a time of optimism and hope, and a special one at that.

This is the first Easter, ever, that Mark has been allowed to spend with the family in Jerusalem. He is from Bethlehem, in the West Bank, so his identity papers are from the Palestinian Authority; he needs a permit from Israel to visit. Lisa, whose family lives in the Old City, holds an Israeli ID. So although they've been married for five years and rent this apartment in the Jerusalem suburbs, under Israeli law they can't reside under the same roof. Mark lives with his parents in Bethlehem, which is six miles away but might as well be a hundred, lying on the far side of an Israeli checkpoint and the 24-foot-high concrete barrier known as the Wall.

Read the rest at National Geographic

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Wiping Palestine off the Map

Israeli Tourism Adverts Wipe Palestine From the Map

Posters have recently appeared in London Underground tube stations advertising Israel as a tourist destination. The map on the advert depicts Israel as incorporating the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights (see photo below).

Please write to London Underground, the Advertising Standards Agency and CBS Outdoors – the company which manages the poster sites – asking for the removal of these posters, which deliberately deny the existence of Palestine. Contact details are at the bottom of this email.

A draft letter is included below. You can use this letter as it is, or take the information from it to write your own.

DRAFT LETTER:

Dear …

I have noticed with concern a poster which is currently being displayed on London Underground’s advertising sites.

The poster has been produced by the Israeli Ministry of Tourism as part of an advertising campaign to attract visitors to Israel.

The map on the advertisement portrays Israel as an area which incorporates the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights.

However, none of these areas are part of Israel, but instead have been subject to military occupation or blockade by Israel since 1967.

UN Resolution 242 calls on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, which are Palestinian territories, but Israel remains in violation of this resolution, and also maintains its illegal occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights.

Israel has sealed off the Gaza Strip since 2005, making access virtually impossible, resulting in severe shortages of food, medicine and clean water, which has left the Strip’s 1.4 million Palestinians facing a humanitarian crisis. Any ‘tourists’ would be unable to visit the Gaza Strip, as Israel prevents even humanitarian aid workers and lawyers from entering.

In the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel continues to build settlements in direct contravention of international law, taking land from the Palestinians to do so and demolishing their homes and farms in the process.

In addition, Israel is in the process of building the Apartheid Wall through the West Bank, which, when completed, will expropriate 50% of Palestinian land in the West Bank, depriving farmers and families of their livelihoods and water supply, and making movement for Palestinians almost impossible.

The Wall breaches numerous international agreements, including the Fourth Geneva Convention’s articles on the destruction of land and/or property (article 53) and on collective punishment (article 33).

The Israeli Ministry of Tourism’s assertion, through the map displayed on the poster, is insidious and wrong, and I urgently call on you to remove it from all its sites to avoid being complicit in this deliberate misinformation.

I look forward to your response.
Yours

++++++++++++

CONTACT DETAILS:

1. Transport for London

Floor 23, Empress State Building
Empress Approach
London SW6 1TR
Tel: 020 7222 5600
Email: enquire@tfl.gov.uk

London Underground Customer Service Centre

55 Broadway
London SW1H 0BD
Tel: 0845 330 9880
Email: enquiry.tube@tfl.gov.uk

What will happen: The complaint will go to the appropriate section and you will receive an answer.

2. CBS Outdoor Ltd
Email: The customer service manager, Richard Ashman
richard.ashman@cbsoutdoor.co.uk

Tel: 020 7482 2863

Post: 28 Jamestown Road, Camden Lock, London, NW1 7BY

What will happen: CBS approves advertising internally, but seek advice from the Committee of Advertising Practice. CBS also works in connection with the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA). It can be asked to remove advertising from its sites by the ASA.

3. Advertising Standards Agency
Email: new.complaints@asa.org.uk

Tel: 020 7492 2222

Post: Advertising Standards Authority, Mid City Place, 71 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6QT

What will happen: The complaint will be considered within the codes of practice, and you will receive a reply within 10 days.

UN Resolution 242 calls on Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, which are Palestinian territories, but Israel remains in violation of this resolution, and also maintains its illegal occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights.

In April 2008, the ASA upheld a complaint against ThinkIsrael.com when it used a similarly misleading map in a tourism-promotion advert placed in the Radio Times. Click here for the ruling:

The ASA ruled that ThinkIsrael.com had breached clause 7.1 (Truthfulness) and clause 2.6 (Non-response) when it failed to reply to any correspondence with the ASA over a four month period.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

+ Wallace Benn: Confessing Anglicans

Last night we hosted + Wallace Benn, Bishop of Lewes and President of the Church of England Evangelical Council at Christ Church, Virginia Water. + Wallace spoke on Confessing Anglicans in Global and Local Mission. You can view his two presentations here:

+ Wallace Benn: Contend for the Faith from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.



+ Wallace Benn: Be Faithful from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.


THE launch in the UK and Ireland of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA), an orthodox Anglican movement for mission at global and local level, is to take place on July 6 in London.

The Fellowship is the outworking of last year’s GAFCON conference in Jerusalem, at which 1200 delegates signed up to the Jerusalem Statement. Those attending Gafcon 2008 represented some 40 million Anglicans world-wide, 70% of the total active membership of 55 million.

The launch event, entitled ‘Be Faithful! – Confessing Anglicans in Global and Local Mission’ will be held at Westminster Central Hall from 10.30am-5.30pm. The aim is to encourage and envision Anglicans who are committed to the orthodox teachings of the Anglican Church and who are passionate about global and local mission. It will be the first of regular ‘fellowship’ events both in the UK and across the world.

Speakers at the July 6 gathering, where around 2,300 bishops, clergy and laity are expected, will include contributors from across the Anglican Communion, including Bishops Keith Ackerman (President of Forward in Faith North America), Wallace Benn (Bishop of Lewes), John Broadhurst (Chairman of Forward in Faith UK) and Michael Nazir-Ali, Dr Chik Kaw Tan plus Archbishop Peter Jensen (secretary of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans www.fca.net). They, and others yet to be announced, will also lead gatherings in London churches on Sunday July 5th. the day before the launch.

For further information about the event, email befaithfulanglicans@gmail.com, or book on-line here


Friday, 15 May 2009

Peacemaking in the Middle East


A Non-Violent Pro-active Response to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine

This weekend I was due to contribute to a conference at Tehran University on Palestine: The Duty of all Nations. I was going to give a paper showing that Christianity mandates pro-active non-violent peacemaking as the most appropriate and effective response to injustice. Jesus repudiated the use of violence to resolve conflict. However, I was denied a visa.

My presentation would have been based on this article:

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ… If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-13; 26)

The Need for Morally Responsible Investment

The State of Israel was established in 1948 on 78% of historic Palestine leading to the displacement of most of its Palestinian inhabitants, who became refugees. Since 1967, Israel has occupied the Palestinian Territories – the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip as well as the Golan Heights from Syria. For nearly forty years, almost four million Palestinians have lived under Israeli military occupation. The ‘Green Line’ denotes the pre-1967 borders of the West Bank and Gaza, and is recognised internationally as the agreed boundary between Israel and Palestine.

During this period, Israel has consistently refused to implement over 60 United Nations Resolutions and remains in breach of International Law through the systematic violation of the basic human rights of Palestinians on a daily basis. Many Palestinians are deprived of food, water, education, access to natural resources, schools and hospitals, and the freedoms of expression, worship, and travel. This deprivation only intensifies as their lands and water sources are confiscated to build Israeli colonies (known as ‘Settlements’ these are new Jewish-only towns and villages) and the Separation Barrier (in parts an 8m+ high wall, in parts a high fence, often separating families and people from their farms).

International Humanitarian Law, (the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention), requires that people living under occupation must be protected until the occupation comes to an end. It is illegal to build on or confiscate their land. It is illegal to harm or kill innocent civilians. It is forbidden to employ collective punishments, degrading treatment and torture. It is illegal to transfer and settle civilians from the occupying power into the territory occupied. International Law also forbids the acquisition of territory through war.

The movement towards a resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict through non-violent means is now accelerating. There is a window of opportunity to reach a just settlement. In spite of past setbacks and much scepticism, many people on both sides of the conflict cling to the hope of peace and reject violence. We must not give in to despair. Regardless of whether this new opportunity bears fruit in the political arena, we believe that serious ethical and moral issues relating to the occupation still need to be addressed by people of faith. One of these is the challenge for churches to consider seriously the issue of morally responsible investment.

Christians must act responsibly before God who calls us to value all people and stand up for all who are suffering and oppressed regardless of their nationality. Such a stand leads us to responsible stewardship in the investments we make as individuals, churches, institutions and corporations. We must disavow the financing of or profiting from, directly or indirectly, organisations complicit in violent, unethical, immoral, and illegal actions. Specifically, we need to re-evaluate:

  1. Earning money through investment in companies whose products or services are used in such a way as to violate International Law and human rights is equivalent to profiting from unlawful acts and from the oppression of others.
  2. Investment in such companies can be seen as condoning the harm of innocent civilians under occupation and the illegal Israeli settlement policies that lead to human rights violations.
  3. Investment in such companies enables the government of Israel to sustain the ongoing violation of human rights of innocent civilians.
  4. Continuing such investments, once the facts are brought to our attention, constitutes deliberate condoning of the evil practices.

“[God] will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble… For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted… The Lord is known by his justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hand… But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.” (Psalm 9:8-9, 12, 18)

One of the companies that has been identified as complicit in violations of human rights is Caterpillar.

Caterpillar: A Case Study

Caterpillar is the world’s largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment and the largest UK employer in the earth moving and construction industry. With 93,000 employees and 3,000 branches in 180 countries, its sales and revenue in 2004 amounted to $30 billion. Caterpillar also markets a range of rugged boots, branded clothing and fashion accessories.

Caterpillar has a Code of Worldwide Business Conduct. In it they state that “We avoid those who violate the law or fail to comply with the sound business practices we promote.” Caterpillar bulldozers have been used by the Israeli military since 1967 to consolidate its illegal occupation and colonisation of the Palestinian Territories. Caterpillar bulldozers have been used by the Israeli military to demolish thousands of Palestinian homes, schools, farms, wells, roads, orchards and ancient olive groves. Their frequent use has come to international public attention following three major incidents: the destruction of the Jenin refugee camp in April 2002; the killing of peace activist Rachel Corrie in Gaza in March 2003; and the destruction of homes, roads and agricultural land in Rafah in May 2004. As a consequence, Caterpillar have been subjected to unprecedented criticism from the United Nations and international human rights groups.

The Israeli army has around 100 Caterpillar D9 bulldozers, each weighing over 53 tons. At nearly 4 metres high and over 8 metres long, with a powerful front-fitted blade and rear ‘ripper’ blade, the D9 bulldozer is as tall as a double decker bus and as heavy as a tank. Caterpillar bulldozers are further customised by the Israeli military adding machine gun mounts, smoke projectors and grenade launchers.

In an interview in Yediot Aharonot, Israel’s most popular tabloid newspaper in May 2002, following the use of Caterpillar D9s causing widespread death and destruction in the Jenin refugee camp, Moshe Nissim, a bulldozer operator admitted, “I had no mercy for anybody. I would erase anyone with the D9 … when I was told to bring down a house, I took the opportunity to bring down some more houses … They were warned by loudspeaker to get out of the house before I came, but I gave no one a chance. I didn’t wait. I didn’t give one blow and wait for them to come out. I would just ram the house with full power, to bring it down as fast as possible.”

According to War on Want, the bulldozer unit was cited for outstanding service for its role in the operation. Following the devastation caused by Caterpillar D9s by the Israeli army during their assault on the Rafah refugee camp in May 2004, John Dugard, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, accused the Israeli military of grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

In his report to the UN General Assembly Dugard noted: “Homes have been destroyed in a purely purposeless manner. Bulldozers have savagely dug up roads, including electricity, sewage and water lines, in a brutal display of power … The time has come for the international community to identify those responsible for this savage destruction of property and to take the necessary legal action against them.”

Caterpillar bulldozers are also being used in the construction of Israel’s controversial Separation Barrier, encroaching deep inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The route of the Separation Barrier, with imposing watchtowers and sniper positions built every few hundred metres, is clearly intended to incorporate Israel’s illegal Settlement Blocks, annexe significant portions of the Palestinian Territories such as the Jordan Valley and imprison Palestinians within a series of isolated Bantustans (see later for definition). Deprived of their land and denied access to employment, schools and hospitals, the impact of the Separation Barrier is deeply traumatic and will further exacerbate the exodus of Palestinians from their homeland.

In July 2004 the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the UN’s highest judicial body, ruled the Barrier illegal, demanding construction be halted, dismantled and compensation paid to Palestinians affected by it. The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to demand Israel abide by the ICJ’s ruling.

All countries which are party to the Fourth Geneva Convention are obliged to ensure Israel’s compliance with the Convention, and to restrain corporations such as Caterpillar from participating in the Barrier’s construction.

The Caterpillar D9 is now an indispensable weapon used by the Israeli military against the civilian Palestinian population, largely funded by the US government’s Foreign Military Sales Programme. Jewish Voice for Peace insist “Caterpillar bulldozers are not given to Israel as construction equipment but explicitly as weapons.”

In the words of Robert Fisk, the Middle East analyst, the Caterpillar bulldozer that killed Rachel Corrie “was part of the regular US aid to Israel.”The uses of Caterpillar D9’s by the Israeli military in the Palestinian Occupied Territories is in violation of Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and this constitute war crimes under international law. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both urge Caterpillar to take a closer look at the UN Norms on business and human rights."

As HRW point out, “The UN standards exist for the behaviour of companies. Caterpillar has every reason to know that the D9 is being used to destroy homes illegally, and it is therefore complicit in these facts.”

Bringing an End to Israel’s Illegal Occupation

The Interfaith Group for Morally Responsible Investment now call upon UK churches directly to exert pressure on companies and corporations to discontinue business activities that:

  • Provide products, services or technology that sustain, support or maintain the occupation of the Palestinian Territories;
  • Provide products, services, or financial support for the establishment, expansion, or maintenance of settlements on occupied land;
  • Provide products, services or financial backing to groups that commit violence against innocent civilians;
  • Provide finances or assist in the construction of Israel’s Separation Barrier.
Disinvestment is a non-violent option that brings attention to the issues, and promotes peaceful change.

“Non violence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding… It is a sword that heals.” Revd. Martin Luther King

"Our aim is not to bring Israel to its knees but to its senses" Zougbhi Zougbhi, Wi'am, Bethlehem.

The Church of England General Synod Votes to Divest from Caterpillar

In May 2005 the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) gave consideration to the Church of England’s investment in Caterpillar Inc. and in September 2005 determined not to advocate disinvestment from Caterpillar. Nevertheless they have stated:

“EIAG is concerned at the uses to which the Israeli authorities have put Caterpillar machines in the past. It will therefore actively monitor the situation, and review this decision rigorously if further sales are made that appear likely to result in the destruction of infrastructure or to place lives or livelihoods at risk.”

Canon Naim Ateek of the Sabeel Ecumenical Centre in Jerusalem together with the Right Revd Riah Abu El Assal, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, have both extended an invitation to the members of the EIAG to visit Palestine urgently and see first hand the wholesale destruction of Palestinian homes, businesses and farms caused by the 100 Caterpillar bulldozers the Israeli army already owns. Canon Ateek and Bishop Riah have both called for disinvestment.

In January 2006 the Church of England's General Synod made an historic decision to divest from Caterpillar. Here is the text of the motion passed by General Synod:

"This Synod:
(a) heeds the call from our sister church, the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, for morally responsible investment in the Palestinian occupied territories and, in particular, to disinvest from companies profiting from the illegal occupation, such as Caterpillar Inc, until they change their policies;
(b) encourages the Ethical Investment Advisory Group to follow up the consultation referred to in its Report with intensive discussions with Caterpillar Inc, with a view to its withdrawing from supplying or maintaining either equipment or parts for use by the state of Israel in demolishing Palestinian homes &c;
c) in the light of the urgency of the situation, and the increased support needed by Palestinian Christians, urges members of the EIAG to actively engage with monitoring the effects of Caterpillar Inc's machinery in the Palestinian occupied territories through visiting the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East to learn of their concerns first hand, and to see recent house demolitions;
d) urges the EIAG to give weight to the illegality under international law of the activities in which Caterpillar Inc's equipment is involved; and
e) urges the EIAG to respond to the monitoring visit and the further discussions with Caterpillar by updating its recommendations in the light of these."

Four things you can do to make a difference

1. Boycott Caterpillar. Caterpillar doesn’t just produce construction equipment; it also sells footwear and clothing in the UK, as well as other merchandise such as miniature Caterpillar vehicles, watches, mugs, bags and stationery. Don’t buy these products – and tell your friends and family to do the same.

2. Tell Caterpillar to stop supplying its bulldozers to the Israeli militaryWrite to Jim Owens, Chairman and CEO of Caterpillar, calling him to suspend all sales of Caterpillar D9s, and their spare parts, to Israel for as long as they are employed in the violation of Palestinian human rights. His address is James W Owens, Caterpillar Inc. 100 NE Adams Street, Peoria, Illinois, 61629-1425, USA.

3. Ask your PCC, Deanery and Diocesan Synod to endorse MRI. Obtain copies of the Sabeel Document, “A Call for Morally Responsible Investment” and the War on Want “Alternative Report on Caterpillar”. Explain how you might show solidarity with the Church in Palestine and help achieve a non-violent withdrawal of the illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territories. It is immoral for churches to profit from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem and the destruction not only of Palestinian society but also of the indigenous Church of Palestine. It is recommended that church investments are deposited with banks and institutions with a clear and consistent ethical stance such as the Cooperative Bank.

Any divestment must be done from moral obligation – the same moral obligation that obliges us to struggle against and separate ourselves from antisemitism. We do not believe that such investment plans are, by their very nature either anti-Semitic or anti-Israeli. On the contrary, the Occupation is destroying Israeli society by increasing poverty, violence and insecurity. Therefore actions that oppose the Occupation are, in fact, pro-Israeli.

We also believe that the best embodiments of such laws as they apply in the international arena are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, which includes the Fourth Geneva Convention, as well as other universally accepted principles of international law protecting human rights and human dignity.

[This is our right - indeed our mandate, our imperative - as Christ followers - to resist oppression, to challenge those who seek to thwart or destroy God’s laws for human society - to do justice and love mercy and walk humbly with God].

The Biblical Mandate for Divestment
As a ecumenical Christian organisation committed to both interfaith dialogue and non-violence, Sabeel emphasizes the importance of faithfulness to God – the God of love, justice, mercy, and peace.

The Bible teaches us that all people are created in God’s image and are loved equally and unconditionally. We also believe that the creator God has sanctified humanity through the Incarnation of Jesus Christ. The dignity of every human being is precious in the eyes of God. Furthermore, God in Christ has given us life.

“…in him was life, and the life was the light of all people” (John 1:4).

God’s will for all people is, therefore, to have life and to have it “more abundantly.” Jesus said, “I have come in order that you might have life – life in all its fullness” (John 10:10). For people to enjoy life in its fullness, they must live in peace and justice, in dignity and harmony with each other. Their God-given human worth must be respected. We must do everything we can to remove any obstacles that prevent human beings from the possibility of achieving life in its fullness. What is the Biblical grounds for non-violent resistance against evil?

1. Our Mandate is Justice and Mercy
“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8). “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31)

2. Our Means are Scripture & Truth (prophetic non-violence)
“Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes… Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:11, 17) “Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place." "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me... (John 18:36-37)

3. Our Motive is Peace and Reconciliation
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9). “All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
“Non violence is a powerful and just weapon. It is a weapon unique in history, which cuts without wounding… It is a sword that heals.” Revd. Martin Luther King

Divestment is a peaceful way for those who wish to affect a change in the Middle East and bring just and lasting peace and security to both Palestinians and Israelis. The pressure applied by the world community through divestment will cause the Israeli public, as well as its political and intellectual circles, to re-examine their government’s policies and practices.


“The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure – in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Divestment from apartheid South Africa was fought by ordinary people at the grassroots… Similar moral and financial pressures on Israel are being mustered one person at a time. If apartheid ended, so can this occupation, but the moral force and international pressure will have to be just as determined. The current divestment effort is the first, though certainly not the only, necessary move in that direction.” Archbishop Desmond Tutu


A Call from Palestinian Christians

“We are, therefore, pleading with our brothers and sisters all over the world to invest their God-given material resources in morally responsible activities that would contribute to the achievement of a just peace in Israel-Palestine.” Canon Naim Ateek

"I am saddened to witness less courage within our church than one would expect. Both time and energy have been spent on issues such as human sexuality. But non violent instruments such as divestment from companies that produce death rather than life does not get the same attention. No wonder the church is loosing credibility in many parts of our world. The Elijah’s are absent and the voiceless wait in vain for church Synods to be their voice. Need the church wait until there are no homes and no trees for our people to wake up and tell the Ahabs of today that Naboth is but another child of God and deserves to lead a life with dignity and secure enough that those bulldozers will not reach his home." + Bishop Riah Abu El Assal

Listen to an audio of this presentation.

Read the Open letter sent to the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG) of the Church of England from the Interfaith Group for Morally Responsible Investment (IMRI) in April 2006 challenging the EIAG over its premature decision and superficial engagement with Caterpillar.

For more information on the Caterpillar campaign see here

Updates:

Veolia and the 4th Geneve Convention

Have the Church Commissioners secretly sold their shares in Caterpillar?

Why Boycott Veolia?

Holding Veolia to Account: Adri Nieuwhof & Daniel Machover

Irish Union refusing to train Israeli tram drivers

Connex Ireland forced to cancel contract with Occupation