Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Middle East Conflict: A Christian Perspective


The Middle East Conflict: A Christian Perspective on the Origins and Solutions

a 60 minute audio-visual presentation on the origins and solutions to the Middle East conflict from a Christian perspective, delivered at Indiana University Purdue University, Fort Wayne, in March 2011.


Also available as a higher resolution DVD for $10 or £5 from stephen@sizers.org. Order using PayPal on the side menu.

Monday, 25 April 2011

Turning Wine into Water: Stanlake Park

Turning Wine into Water: Saturday 16th July at Stanlake Park Wine Estate, Twyford, Berkshire, RG10 0BN from 2:00pm-6:00pm.

There will be wine and cheese tasting, juice and biscuits for the children, tea and cake for everyone, with a children’s treasure hunt, guided tours of the winery and beautiful walks round the estate. Free admission but donations welcome to help provide a well  and permanent buildings for Goshen School in Uganda. In August a team will be going from Christ Church, Virginia Water to help with the well construction and extend the school.

For more information (and short videos) about how you can be part of this exciting project see here.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Christ is Risen!


1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
 11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.  13 They asked her, “Woman,[a] why are you crying?”
   “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
 15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
   Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
   She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
 19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.  21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of anyone, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” (John 20:1-23)

Saturday, 23 April 2011

The Ex- Muslim Jihadi Terrorists


A Center of Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice hosts an article by Sheila Musaji who writes about the allegations made against Dr. Ergun Caner, the former President of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.
A rising star on the Religious Right, entertaining audiences at major Religious Right gatherings with his hip, he used to tell irreverent stories about his upbringing as a radical Muslim and his conversion to Christianity.  He is also the author of “Unveiling Islam: An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs”. He is an ex-Muslim who has converted to Christianity, and claims to be a former terrorist.  His claims don’t hold up any better than do those of Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani.
Right Wing Watch reports,
Turns out, according to a growing chorus of critics – many of them Southern Baptists and other Christians – Caner has apparently been lying for years about his childhood and his life story. It’s hard to even summarize the extent of the deceptions being described by his critics, but they include his claims to have grown up in Turkey and to have personally involved in Islamic Jihad, when court records from his parents’ divorce place him in Columbus, Ohio when he was just a few years old. Check some of the critical websites for voluminous debunking of Caner’s colorful (and apparently fanciful) stories about  learning about America through TV broadcasts in Turkey and more. Some charges are even more directly related to his ministry, such as his claims to have debated top Muslim scholars around the world. Caner’s critics say there’s no evidence of those debates.
These are no vague or reckless charges, but carefully documented exposes that draw from Caner’s sermons, speeches, and online videos, and other public records.  Liberty doesn’t seem to have responded publicly, but recently posted a revised version of Caner’s bio with disputed claims removed.
John Kennedy, writing for Christianity Today counters the critics:
John F. Ankerberg, who interviewed Caner for more than a dozen television programs, has posted on his website that he is disheartened by the attacks upon his friend's integrity and character. Ankerberg said he believes Caner's testimony is "completely true." During the Liberty investigation, Ankerberg, citing copyright infringement, had several videos posted by critics pulled from YouTube.
"Ergun and his brother, Emir, are men of God who have taken a valiant stand for the Lord, even costing them and their families their safety," Ankerberg said. "For someone to attack Ergun's selfless sacrifice, especially since they malign his character without any substantiation, is both unchristian and unbiblical."
Norman L. Geisler, distinguished professor of apologetics at Veritas Evangelical Seminary in Murrieta, California, says the investigation's outcome vindicates Caner.
"They exonerated him on everything except some misstatements on nothing that was crucial," Geisler told CT on Wednesday. "No moral or doctrinal charges were established; no culpability was proven."
In a previous article, Shoebat, Saleem, and Anani - Three Arab Villages Are Missing Their Idiots, Sheila Musaji wrote about three other ex-terrorists,
In 2006 I wrote an article about an event I attended in Saint Louis at which the film Obsession was shown and the speaker who was invited to prove the film’s point was Walid Shoebat.  As I said in the article, 
“The speaker at this film was billed as a “former” PLO terrorist turned Christian/Zionist.  Walid Shoebat claims to live in California under an assumed name with protection from the Islamic radicals who have declared a “fatwa” to kill him.  He made many undocumented claims, and most shockingly said that it was time to stop working for peace - it is time to start taking real action. .  A review of his radio interview before the St. Louis presentation, as well as a review of statements at other showings of this film, and of his website http://www.abrahamic-faith.com is very revealing.  He has said “Please take back the holy Temple Mount.” He has said “We need to choose war.” He has sanctioned the use of extrajudicial assassinations.  This is a man who wants to hurry Armageddon and the rapture along, at which time the Messiah will come and the Jews, Muslims, and everyone who does not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God will be killed and sent to hell.  This is anti-Semitic and Islamophobic.  This is an extremist Christian terrorist.  This is not a former terrorist.  This is a man who used to hate Jews and now hates Muslims, who used to commit violence against Jews and now justifies violence against Muslims.”
Shoebat is now a part of a three man road show - Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani, billed as the “3 ex-terrorists” who go around the country villifying Islam.  They were even invited to appear recently at the U.S. Air Force Academy to enlighten the students.  And, they have a “3 ex-terrorists” website
I certainly doubt the veracity of the Islamophobic statements made by this group, as do most sane people, and am more than a little concerned about the effects this concerted propoganda effort will have in poisoning people’s minds and sidelining people from serious consideration of real issues and solutions.
See also:

Christianity Today Ergun Caner Out as Seminary Dean

Bloggers Target Seminary President Liberty's Ergun Caner accused of false statements in his testimony about converting from Islam.

Eileen Fleming, Failure of Intelligence to Support the Troops

Richard Bartholomew's Notes:

Ex-Muslim President of Liberty University’s Baptist Theological Seminary Under Fire over Details of Biography

The Rise of the Muslim Anti-Christ Explains Libya Unrest

Seattle and Las Vegas Police “Pull Out” of Counter-Terror Webinars

A Special Guest Conspiracy Theory: USA to be Islamic By End of Obama’s Second Term

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Living Stones: Middle East Crisis: Where is Church Leadership?


Living Stones of the Holy Land Trust:
Middle East Crisis: Where is Church Leadership?
Saturday 7th May 2011: 10:00am-4:00pm
The Catholic Chaplaincy, Rose Place, St. Aldate's,
Oxford, OX1 1RD


10.00 a.m. Coffee/Tea

10.30 a.m. Dr Kenneth Cragg - Introduction to the Day
World-renowned commentator on Christian-Muslim relationships and Middle Eastern Christianity.

10.50 a.m. Anthony O’ Mahony
Director of Centre for Eastern Christianity, Heythrop College, London ‘The Changing role of the Patriarchate’

11.20 a.m. Mariam Tadros
‘Role of women and families in the Church Leadership’

11.50 a.m. Rt Revd Dr Vahan Hovhanessian
Primate of the Armenian Church in the UK and Ireland ‘Some realities of church leadership in the Middle East’

12.30-1.30 Lunch Break
Variety of shops, cafés and restaurants close by or bring packed lunch.

2.00 p.m. Michael Prior Memorial Lecture

Rt Revd Dr Michael Nazir-Ali
Former Bishop of Rochester, President of OXTRAD. ‘The present contexts for Leadership in Middle Eastern Christianity’

3.00 p.m. Speaker Forum

4.00 p.m. Departure
Tea and coffee available.


Venue: Catholic Chaplaincy, Rose Place, Oxford, St. Aldate’s, OX1 1RD (opposite Christ Church in Aldate’s Street)

Admission by ticket only Ticket at door at £10 per person. Free admission for bona fide students with union card or other identity

For more information please contact Alison Driscoll" alison.driscoll@talktalk.net

Living Stones of the Holy Land Trust

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land: 21st-30th October 2011


A comprehensive 10-day Pilgrimage based in Jerusalem and the Galilee in Half Term, 21st-30th October 2011.

In the Middle East, the reality on the ground is often far removed from what we see and read in the news. Places of pilgrimage are open and welcoming visitors. We have planned our programme for late October during the half-term holidays, which is considered to be a lovely time to visit the Holy Land. We will have the opportunity to worship with the local Christian community in Jerusalem on the Sunday morning and on our journey through the Holy Land to seek them out and to offer our support and encouragement.

Visits will include Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Capernaum, the Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea and Qumran, as well as allowing free time for relaxation and private exploration. We will walk along the Via Dolorosa, sail on the Sea of Galilee, float on the Dead Sea and ascend the Mount of Masada by cable car. The Holy Land is unique in offering so many highlights and contrasts in such a compact area. Each day of our pilgrimage will be very different from the previous one.

The pilgrimage will include opportunities to meet with the Living Stones, the indigenous Christians of the Holy Land, as well as Jewish and Muslim peacemakers. We hope to meet with ICAHD (Israel Committee Against House Demolitions) or World Vision. We will also encounter the Separation Wall and possibly a Jewish settlement, a Palestinian refugee camp and staff of the Bethlehem Arab Rehabilitation Centre in Beit Jala.
We stay in two family owned and managed hotels. In Jerusalem, the three star Golden Walls Hotel overlooks the Old City walls and is walking distance of the Holy Sepulchre. In Tiberias, we stay at the four star Ron Beach Hotel in a wonderful situation right on the lakeside. The tour is on a half-board basis with buffet breakfast and table d’hote evening meal included daily. Touring is in air-conditioned coaches and we will be accompanied by a local guide who will share leadership responsibilities and look after the formalities of hotel check-ins etc. All entrance fees are included. Flights are with EL AL Israel Airlines between Luton Airport and Tel Aviv and returning from Tel Aviv into London Heathrow.

For more information download the brochure from here If you have any questions please contact Stephen

Monday, 11 April 2011

The Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors... by Norman Finkelstein

Under the controversial title "deutschland uber alles" Norman Finkelstein has placed photos on his blog of the Nazi treatment of Jews alongside contemporary photos of the Zionist treatment of Palestinians. He insists "The grandchildren of holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany..." As the son of Holocaust victims himself, his testimony is powerful.




See more here

Friday, 8 April 2011

Helen Thomas: Playboy's April Interview

A candid conversation with the disgraced dean of the White House Press Corps about her rage against Israel, her sympathy for Palestinians and why she was fired

"I knew exactly what I was doing – I was going for broke.  I had reached the point of no return.  You finally get fed up…I finally wanted to speak the truth," explains former dean of the White House Press Corps Helen Thomas when asked about her now infamous May 27, 2010 comments on Israel in Playboy's April Interview.

The outspoken journalist sparked controversy when a rabbi and blogger asked her for remarks on Israel and she responded "Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine," adding that the Jews "can go home" to "Poland, Germany and America and everywhere else."  Shortly thereafter her comments went viral and Thomas abruptly resigned from her post at Hearst Newspapers on June 7, 2010.

The 90-year-old veteran reporter sat down with Playboy Contributing Editor David Hochman for her first in-depth interview following her contentious remarks.  Not only did she share her thoughts on Israel and Palestine, she also discussed her sentiments towards Jews, her supposed retirement, President Obama, Congress's anti-Arab agenda and her obituary.  Following are selected quotes from the interview:

On the aftermath of her May 27 remarks about Israel: "I went into self-imposed house arrest for two weeks…Every columnist and commentator jumped on me immediately as anti-Semitic.  Nobody asked me to explain myself.  Nobody said, 'What did you really mean?'"

On the situation in Palestine: "Everybody knows my feelings that the Palestinians have been shortchanged in every way.  Sure, the Israelis have a right to exist – but where they were born, not to come and take someone else's home.  I've had it up to here with the violations against the Palestinians…[The Palestinians] are incarcerated and living in an open prison.  I say to the Israelis, 'Get out of people's homes!'  It's unacceptable to have soldiers knocking on a door at three in the morning and saying, 'This is my home.'  And forcing people out of homes they've lived in for centuries?  What is this?  How can anybody accept it?  I mean, Jewish-only roads?  [She later corrected herself to say Israeli-only roads.]  Would anyone tolerate something like that in America?  White-only roads?"

On Palestinian violence against the Israelis: "Of course I don't condone any violence against anyone.  But who wouldn't fight for their country?  What would any American do if their land was being taken?  Remember Pearl Harbor.  The Palestinian violence is to protect what little remains of Palestine.  The suicide bombers act out of despair and desperation.  Three generations of Palestinians have been forced out of their homes – by Israelis – and into refugee camps."

On American support of Israel: "We keep giving Israel everything.  Our government bribes the Israelis by saying, 'Please come to the [negotiating] table and we'll give you this and we'll give you that'…Why do you have to bribe people to do the right thing?  I don't want my government bribing anybody.  I want them demanding.  Stop all this aid to Israel when they're killing people!...Why do they send my American tax dollars to perpetuate it?"

Read more: http://www.bradenton.com/2011/03/17/3041886/helen-thomas-is-playboys-april.html#ixzz1Iw9JH1mV

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Breaking the Silence in Hebron


Breaking the Silence: IDF Soldiers speak out about the Occupation

Last week I met one of the co-founders of Breaking the Silence who took us on a tour of Hebron where he once served in the IDF. This is a 'must see' tour for every pilgrimage group along with an ICAHD tour of the apartheid wall and house demolitions.

Breaking The Silence (BtS) (Hebrew: שוברים שתיקה‎ Shovrim Shtika) is an Israeli Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) established by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers and veterans who collect and provide testimonies about their military service in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem during the Second Intifada, giving serving and discharged Israeli personnel and reservists a platform to confidentially describe their experience in the Israeli-occupied territories.

The organization's stated mission is to 'break the silence' of IDF soldiers who return to civilian life in Israel and "discover the gap between the reality which they encountered in the [occupied] territories, and the silence which they encounter at home." Since 2004, Breaking the Silence have run a testimonies collection project called "Soldiers Speak Out" They have collected several hundred testimonies from "those who have, during their service in the IDF, the Border Guard, and the Security Forces, played a role in the Occupied Territories." By publishing soldiers' accounts, Breaking the Silence hopes to "force Israeli society to address the reality which it created" and face the truth about "abuse towards Palestinians, looting, and destruction of property" that is familiar to soldiers.

shovrimshtika.org/​index_e.asp

The Rape of Aboud Continues

Last week I blogged about a 24 hour stay in Aboud near Ramallah and how the community have seen most of their fertile lands and olive groves plundered by the illegal Jewish settlers on the surrounding hills. We helped young people plant 15 olive trees in a symbolic act of solidarity.

It seems the settlers wanted to retaliate. On Friday, Israeli soldiers prevented a group of Palestinian youth from planting more olive seedlings on their own land to mark Land Day.

According to eyewitnesses "A group of 50 participants were planting olive seedlings when they noticed a settler, guarded by Israeli soldiers, taking pictures of them. Soldiers stopped the planting and uprooted some of the seedlings the group had planted."