Sunday, 31 July 2011

Veolia and the Unethical Investment Advisory Group

Edward Mason, Secretary to the Ethical Investment Advisory Group
Church House, Great Smith Street, London, SW1P 3AZ

31 July 2011

Dear Mr Mason

Thank you for your letter of June 30 explaining why the Ethical Investment Advisory Group does not wish to divest from Veolia. I appreciate you taking the trouble to answer me in such detail. I must however take issue with you in an equally detailed way.

Of course no population should be deprived of investment and development because they live in an area of conflict. I do not call for divestment because Veolia is operating in an area where human rights are breached but because Veolia has facilitated and is facilitating those abuses. (p1, para)

Veolia is facilitating the breaking of the Fourth Geneva Convention (FGC) Article 49 – as you admit in paragraph 4 on page 4 – by building a light railway which links the illegal settlements to each other and to Israel proper. Veolia is profiting from those abuses and, in turn, so is the Church of England. (p2, paras 1,2,3)

Complicity in Israel 's breaches of international law is a clear case of interaction between Veolia's core business operations and conflict dynamics that does great harm (p2, para5).

How can the EIAG possibly be reassured that Veolia’s activities comply with International Law when the settlements themselves are serious and enduring breaches and the tramway facilitates such breaches? (p2, para 10; p3, para 1)

I must say I am surprised to have a recent French case quoted at me. Your group is not bound by French law but we are all bound by International(IL) Law and International Humanitarian Law(IHL)! (p3, blob 1)

As I understand it Nanterre High Court considered whether the IL provisions in question gave rise to “justiciable” rights under French law between private parties. The judgement was that it did not but that does not actually clear Veolia of breaching IL and the decision is currently being appealed. (p3, blob 1)

You cite the need for no discrimination between different groups yet you know that the adverts for the jobs are in Hebrew and demand army service as a condition – both of which exclude Palestinians – most of whom cannot speak much Hebrew, far less read it – and Palestinians are excluded from army service. Moreover, much of the route of the tramway passes through areas where Palestinians are forbidden. (p3, blob 2)

Veolia's support for settlements certainly makes the situation on the ground worse by consolidating and perpetuating their illegal establishment

Veolia has not yet disposed of its interest in the JLRT and has been quite slippery about its moves in the past. I remember we broke out the champagne a few years ago because Veolia seemed to be withdrawing from the JLRT but the move proved premature. (p 4, para 3)

Even if it sells its shares, Veolia will be involved in service and maintenance for several years. Veolia has not admitted to anything unethical about its JLRT involvement and says that it is selling up merely because it was made a good offer. Veolia has announced that it plans to sell Tovlan to an illegal Israeli settlement – not a convincing token of the company’s bona fides. Veolia’s contracts, operations and intentions still amount to complicity in breaches of the FGC – therefore by definition, in war crimes. They should be of deep concern to the EIAG, and the Church of England should not hold shares in Veolia whilst they continue.

The fact that you have “noted” resolution 13/7 of the UN Human Rights Council in April 2010 and that you have “taken this into account” in your engagement is a great puzzle to me You write that the UN HRC expressed grave concern at the decision to establish the tramway between West Jerusalem and a named settlement “which is in clear violation of international law and relevant UN resolutions”. (p 4, para 4)

I do not understand why you want to continue to be invested in this company.

Your predecessor Neville White was a great exponent of engagement, too. He engaged with Caterpillar for years, directly going against the will of General Synod which voted overwhelmingly to divest from a company which supplies armoured bulldozers to the Israeli Defence Forces. These huge bulldozers are used to flatten people’s homes – sometimes when they are still in them. American peace activist Rachel Corrie died under one such. When the EIAG finally decided to divest from Caterpillar, it claimed to have done so on financial and not on moral grounds.

It puzzles me greatly that a body with the word “ethical” in its title and with Jesus Christ as its model can be so set against acting in a moral fashion.

Yours etc,

Georgina White

Palestine and the UN: The World Divided

The map that says it all.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Pastor John Hagee: A Preoccupation With the Jews

Jews on First have produced this illuminating video about Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a leading Christian Zionist organization, and as its leader enjoys the support of major Jewish organizations. With narration by Ed Asner, their video shows a number of instances in which Hagee's understanding of Jews and Judaism should give cause for concern. Hagee declares that Hitler was "part Jewish." He says that Jews attribute special healing powers to the "spittle" of their first-born sons. He repeats anti-semitic canards about Jewish control of the financial system. They hope this video will prompt rabbis and Jewish organizational leaders, especially, to reevaluate their relationships with Hagee and CUFI.

David Rosser-Owen of The Association of British Muslims have expressed similar concerns:
Given the nature of the rabble-rousing content of his preaching and the inflammatory effect that it has, it would be singularly inappropriate for this preacher to be allowed into the United Kingdom during the middle of the month of Ramadan and to have free access to a public platform in Birmingham, a city with a very large multi-cultural and multi-religious population. We call on The Rt Hon Theresa May, HM The Home Secretary, in her power to issue an Exclusion Order for Mr Hagee, in the same way that she has done for other extremist hate preachers, in the public interest.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Revd Dr Rowan Williams has described John Hagee's views as "dangerous fantasies"

Richard Bartholomew points out that while not necessarily anti-semitic, Hagee's fantasies are nevertheless inflamatory:
...who rants about how the US economy is run by a group of Satanists called the Illuminati, in particular naming Alan Greenspan and “the Rothschilds”? Or who infers that Satan was able to make particular use of Karl Marx because he was Jewish and Hitler because he was “partly Jewish”?
Home Office Minister Theresa May said recently, "I will seek to exclude an individual if I consider that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good, and the government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe that they might seek to undermine our society.”

In the light of these concerns from mainstream Jewish, Christian and Muslim organisations, it is hoped that the Home Secretary will issue an Exclusion Order and ban John Hagee from visiting the UK in August to hold a fund-raising Bible Prophecy Seminar in Birmingham on the grounds that it is "not conducive to the public good."

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Palestine 2011: A Return to June 1967 or May 1948?

In 1962, John F Kennedy said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

In September 2011, the United Nations will test that premise. It can legitimise an independent, sovereign and contiguous Palestinian State on the June 1967 borders. In so doing, it can secure peace with justice for both Israelis and Palestinians.

But if Britain and Europe abstain or join the United States and Israel in opposing the inalienable right to self determination for the Palestinians, more is at stake than the Two State, Road-Map to Peace, previously endorsed by the UN, USA, Russia and Europe.

The delegitimisation of the State of Palestine will fuel calls for the delegitimisation of the State of Israel. If the 1967 borders are no longer recognised what is there to stop those who do not recognise the 1948 borders?

See M.J. Rosenberg 'Its Netanyahu who is 'delegitimising' Israel

Sheik Raed Salah: Britain's First Palestinian Political Prisoner

Yesterday I met Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel. We met in North London where he is living with friends, virtually under house arrest, while waiting an appeal hearing against his deportation.

It is lamentable that a religious leader who issued a clear statement before travelling to Britain condemning all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism; who has never been convicted of anti-Semitism in Israel; has committed no crime in the UK; and who was invited to speak in Parliament by MP's, now finds himself living under strict bail conditions including the wearing of an electronic tag, observing a night-time curfew, reporting to immigration officials at noon every day and refraining from public-speaking.

In a statement, Home Office Minister Theresa May said, "I will seek to exclude an individual if I consider that his or her presence in the UK is not conducive to the public good, and the government makes no apologies for refusing people access to the UK if we believe that they might seek to undermine our society.” John Ware, for the BBC observes, “The Home Office has refused to elaborate on exactly why Sheikh Salah's presence has been judged "not conducive to the public good".

Ian Black, writing in the Guardian asks, “The real question about the episode is this: if Salah is tolerated in Israel, why did the UK government object to his presence?”

Many Palestinians in the UK as well as Palestine accuse the Israeli government of being behind his arrest and attempted deportation in order to intimidate and silence critics. Hanan Chehata, writing in the New Statesman elaborates on this.

“Sheikh Raed Salah has become the target of a vicious and concerted smear campaign by the pro-Israel lobby in the UK and unfortunately our government has now weighed in to give legitimacy to the systematic persecution of Palestinians on British soil as well… Sheikh Raed is the Palestinian leader of the largest civil society body in Israel and works with the largest umbrella body of Palestinian organisations, the High Follow Up Committee. As soon as the Middle East Monitor (MEMO) began to publicise the fact that we were inviting Sheikh Raed to the United Kingdom to take part in a series of public and parliamentary speaking engagements, a vicious campaign of demonization began against him in parts of the British media. Pro-Israel bloggers and journalists began to call him an anti-Semite, a hate preacher, and other libellous and defamatory statements were made against him. This is despite the fact that he has never been convicted of anti-Semitism in Israel, has spoken openly in Tel Aviv University, and has repeatedly denied and rejected all of the allegations made against him… The shocking treatment of Sheikh Raed will backfire as it is simply exposing the fact that, once again, the British authorities seem willing to do the Israelis' dirty work for them no matter how much it flies in the face of British standards of justice, democracy and free speech.”

It seems Sheik Salah has become the first Palestinian political prisoner on British soil.

Alan Travis, writing in the Guardian cites Sarah Colborne, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign in London, said she was appalled by the decision to detain Salah. "This is a legitimate organisation which Israel has never moved to ban. Raed Salah regularly speaks at venues across Israel, where he has considerable support amongst the Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up a fifth of the population." He had been elected mayor of his home town, Um al-Fahm, three times and never been convicted of anti-Semitism in Israel.

Colborne said Salah had asked his legal team to take action against those in Britain who had made allegations of anti-Semitism against him before his arrival. "The attempt to remove Sheikh Raed Salah from this country while he is taking legal action against those who have been defaming him is an obstruction of the course of justice," she said.

That seems to be the view of ordinary people in Britain too. Yesterday afternoon we took Sheik Salah for a meal in a local restaurant. Both there and as we walked back to the car along the streets of North London, people recognised his distinctive smile and warm features, and came over to shake his hand, bow slightly in respect, or ask if they could have their photo taken with him. This seems to contradict the Home Secretary's view that his presence in Britain is "not conducive to the public good".

At least the High Court appears more resistant to the influence of the Israel Lobby than the Home Secretary. Today, Lord Justice Aikens refused to give the Home Secretary permission to appeal against a High Court judge's decision on 15 July to grant Mr Salah bail.

More Photos of Sheikh Raed Salah

See also The Blond-Haired, Blue-Eyed, “Christian” Face of Terrorism

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Maintaining the Purity of Europe

Yousef Munayyer has written an excellent analysis of the terror attack in Norway Lessons drawn from the blonde bomber for the Jerusalem Fund
Dozens of innocents were murdered by a terrorist act in Norway. But not all the casualties were human. Other casualties included some dangerous but commonly-held assumptions about terrorism.

Guesses about Islamist involvement came pouring in over the airwaves when news of the bombing broke. These were not seriously questioned by journalists but rather willfully accepted as fact. The bombing in Oslo, the experts said, featured "all the hallmarks" of an al Qaeda attack. Norway, we were told, was on al Qaeda's hit list both because of its NATO involvement in Afghanistan, and because a Norwegian newspaper republished a controversial Islamophobic cartoon originally published in Denmark.

It turned out, of course, that the perpetrator was not an al Qaeda operative but rather a right-wing ethnic Norwegian terrorist who explicitly targeted what he termed "traitorous" European politicians that advocated less restrictive immigration policies. Breivik's 1500+ page manifesto explains his ideology, which is heavily predicated on maintaining the purity of Europe by defending it from Muslim immigration.

Yet even after news reports began to emerge from eye-witnesses who said the attacker was a tall blonde with typical Norwegian looks, the mainstream media was more inclined to believe that some Islamist group was still behind it. In fact, the New York Times and other outlets kept the claim of an Islamist connection up on their homepages for hours after it became clear that the culprit was a Norwegian right-winger.

The initial claim of responsibility for the attacks was made on a so-called Jihadi website by a group that no one had ever heard of. Many in the mainstream media clung to this claim in their reporting, finding it more plausible to believe than the possibility that a Norwegian might have been behind the attacks.

The right-wing threat

In reality, domestic terrorism is far more common than transnational terrorism, even in the recent period. From 1998-2005, for example, terror attacks have claimed the lives of 26,445 people, of which only 6,447 were a result of transnational terror (3,000 of those casualties occurred on 9/11).

Has al Qaeda so convinced the West of its ubiquitous power that it is easier for observers to jump to irrational conclusions based on anonymous internet chatter? This seems to be the case.

This exaggeration, this Islamist boogeyman, contributes directly to the failure to conceptualise and imagine threats like Breivik and his ilk. With the discussions on terrorism in both the public and policy realm overly saturated with analysis on Islam and Islamists, it becomes very easy to miss this right-wing terror threat.
Read more here

According to the BBC, authorities deny any link to right wing activists in the UK. However, the Guardian reports that Breivik sent 'manifesto' to 250 UK contacts hours before Norway killings.
 The man responsible for the mass killing in Norway emailed his 1,500-page document to 250 British contacts less than 90 minutes before he began his attack, according to a Belgian MP.
Anders Behring Breivik sent his manifesto to 1,003 email addresses at 2.09pm on Friday – less than an hour and a half before he detonated a bomb in Oslo.

According to Tanguy Veys MP for the rightwing anti-Muslim party Vlaams Belang, – and one of those who received the document – approximately a quarter of those on the email list were UK-based.

"I think the UK was the biggest group [of recipients]," he told the Guardian last night. "There were people from Italy, France Germany … but the UK was the biggest number."
See also Carl Medearis The Blond-Haired, Blue-Eyed, “Christian” Face of Terrorism

Archbishop criticises Israel for restrictions on Palestinian religious liberty

The Church Times carries a balanced report on the two-day conference on Christians in the Holy Land hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace this week.
Dr Williams said that participants at the conference, which was attended by about 60 Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious leaders and politicians, expressed concern that the restriction of movement for Palestinian Christians “cuts against the principle of religious liberty”.

There was a “renewed stress on pressing for better guaranteed access to the holy sites, particularly during festivals”. Speaking on Tuesday at the end of the conference, in response to an accusation of bias, Dr Williams insisted that the Church of England was not anti-Israel:

“Proper solidar­ity with Palestinians is looking to­wards a just solution which is good for Israel as well. There is no security in the region that is not shared security.”

He said that the delegates at the conference had discussed how “time seems to be running out for the two-state solution. . . The settle­ments question was of course in everyone’s mind, and the sense that settlements presented one of those great threats to a two-state solution.”

Dr Williams called for a “step change” in how the Church in the UK engages with Christian com­muni­ties in the Holy Land. He said Christians needed to “rethink how we approach pilgrimage, [so it is] not just a tourist venture, but en­gages with the realities on the ground”.

He described how partici­pants at the conference had ex­pressed fears of its becoming a “Christian Disneyland rather than living communities”.
Dr Williams stated that the conference had not “set out to solve the political problems”, but was focused on “problems that might be solved”, such as questions of access for Palestinian Christians and how to make life “slightly more bear­able, slightly more just” for them.

“We cannot wait for politicians to sort it out. Therefore we as civil society, as people of faith, need to get on with making the difference we can make.”

Earlier this month, Dr Williams was criticised by Christian Pales­tinian groups after he gave a BBC interview on the plight of Christians in the Holy Land that did not men­tion the Israeli occupation (News, 1 July).

He said on Tuesday that his remarks in the interview had related to “a very specific case”, and he had not intended to make “any general comment” about the situation facing Palestinians.

The conference had been attended by the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, the Rt Revd Suheil Dawani, whose residency permit was revoked earlier this year (News, 11 March).

Dr Williams said the situation was “still unresolved”. Dr Williams launched an appeal at the General Synod last week for funds for Christian communities in the Holy Land. He said that he had returned from a visit last year “with a very, very strong sense that we had to do more to express our solidarity with the Christian communities there”.

In response to his appeal, mem­bers of the congregation at South­well Minster have invited six Pales­tinian Chris­tians from Jerusalem, includ­ing a priest, to visit the diocese in Octo­ber. A statement from the Minster said that it hoped the group would “give a fresh insight into oppression in the Middle East and how Christians can support those who are battling injustice”.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Palestine: The World's Next Nation? You Decide

In four days the UN Security Council will meet, and the world has an opportunity to embrace a new proposal that could turn the tide on decades of failed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks: UN recognition of the state of Palestine.

Over 120 nations from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America have already endorsed this initiative, but Israel's right-wing government and the US vehemently oppose it. The UK and other key European countries are still undecided, but a massive public push now could tip them to vote for this momentous opportunity to end 40 years of military occupation.

US-led peace initiatives have failed for decades, while Israel has confined the Palestinians to small areas, confiscated their lands and blocked their independence. This bold new initiative could be the best opportunity to jump start a resolution of the conflict, but Europe and the UK must take the lead. Let’s build a massive global call for the UK and other European leaders to endorse this statehood bid now, and make clear that citizens across the world support this legitimate, non-violent, diplomatic proposal. Sign the petition and send this to everyone:

While the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are complex, most people on all sides agree that the best path to peace now is the creation of two states. But repeated peace processes have been undermined by violence on both sides, extensive Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank, and the humanitarian blockade on Gaza. The Israeli occupation has shrunk and fragmented the territory for a Palestinian state and made daily life a crippling ordeal for the Palestinian people. The UN, World Bank and IMF have all recently announced that Palestinians are ready to run an independent state, but say the main constraint to success is the Israeli occupation. Even the US President has called for an end to settlement expansion and a return to the 1967 borders with mutually agreed land-swaps, but Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has furiously refused to cooperate.

Sign for Independence for Palestine - the world's next nation

It’s time for a dramatic shift away from a futile peace process and on to a new path for progress. While the Israeli and US governments are calling the Palestinian initiative ‘unilateral’ and dangerous, in fact the world’s nations overwhelmingly support this diplomatic move away from violence. Global recognition of Palestine could crush extremists, and foster a growing non-violent Palestinian-Israeli movement in step with the democratic momentum across the region. Most importantly, it will rescue a path to a negotiated settlement, allow the Palestinians access to a variety of international institutions that can help advance Palestinian freedom, and send a clear signal to Israel’s pro-settler government that the world will no longer accept their impunity and intransigence.

For too long, Israel has undermined the hope for a Palestinian state. For too long, the US has appeased them, and for too long Europe has hidden behind the US. Right now, France, Spain, Germany, the UK and the High Representative of the EU are on the fence about Palestinian statehood. Let’s appeal to them to stand on the right side of history and support a Palestinian declaration of freedom and independence, with overwhelming support, and financial aid. Sign the urgent petition now to urge Europe to support the bid and back this move for long-term peace in Israel and Palestine:

Sign for Independence for Palestine - the world's next nation

Palestinian statehood will not bring a resolution to this intractable conflict overnight, but UN recognition will change the dynamics and will begin to unlock the door towards freedom and peace. Across Palestine, people are preparing, with hope and expectation, to reclaim a freedom their generation has never known. Let's stand with them and push European leaders to do the same, as they have stood with the people of Egypt, Syria and Libya.

John Hagee's views are "Dangerous Fantasies" says Archbishop

The Christians in the Holy Land conference held 18 - 19 July 2011 at Lambeth Palace was jointly hosted by the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. During a Press briefing, the two Archbishops were asked about the visit to Birmingham in August of the controversial Christian Zionist Pastor John Hagee to hold a Prophecy Seminar about the end of the world.

Hagee has for example, advocated a pre-emptive military attack against Iran.
“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.” Sarah Posner, “Pastor Strangelove” The American Prospect Online,
Asked whether Christian in the UK should welcome someone like Pastor Hagee. Archbishop Nichols replied,
"He clearly takes a very different line on things than we do [the two archbishops] and I think than the major churches do. I would trust the intelligence of people in this country to judge those remarks in their full context presumably, but to judge them appropriately. They are not the lines that we have been pursuing. They are not the lines that we have heard voices from in this conference call for. We acknowledge not every voice was present but we believe that this conference really has sketched out a pathway and a pattern which can be productive for all concerned."

The Archbishop of Canterbury was more succinct and direct. "I think that the views you've described are dangerous fantasies, both historical and political."

Coincidentally, John Hagee's latest film "Jerusalem Countdown" releases this week.Adapted from the best selling novel, "Jerusalem Countdown," by Pastor Hagee highlights the reality of an inevitable conflict between Israel and Islam. (Read full synopsis)

"The film is already creating a buzz on the internet," says Russell Wolfe, CEO of Pure Flix Entertainment. Pure Flix, is rapidly becoming the largest producer of Christian films in the nation. Wolfe explains, "We have launched a cinema program for churches and ministries to obtain licenses to show these films to congregations and groups to promote outreach through film, and provide an alternative to the current Hollywood trends with "family-friendly" and faith based movies."

Jerusalem Countdown is suspected to turn some heads with its end times and terrorist story line. "The rapture scene in this film is amazing, they really put a lot of work into this!" says Scott Reed, vice president of distribution for Five and Two Pictures. Country radio legend Randy Travis stars in the film along with Anna Zielinski, Lee Majors, David A.R. White, Jaci Velasquez and Stacey Keach.

To read a response to John Hagee's anti-semitic and dangerous theology see:

Pastor John Hagee, Sheikh Raed Salah and the Home Secretary

Weird and Wacky Theology 3: Armageddon out of here

John Hagee and Incitement to Racial and Religious Hatred

The Other Gospel of John Hagee by G. Richard Fisher

Monday, 25 July 2011

Executive Briefing on the Middle East: 15 November 2011

On Tuesday, November 15, 2011 EMEU will conduct a special Executive Briefing on the Middle East in the Bay area of San Francisco in the city of Fremont and held in the historic Centerville Presbyterian Church founded in 1853.

The purpose of this special one day briefing is to inform and gain insight into today’s Middle East. EMEU is inviting business and civic leaders, mission pastors, seminary and Bible college professors, and others for full day briefing ending with a banquet in the evening. Included in the briefing will be close interaction and round table discussions between Western and Middle Eastern leadership.

Since its start-up in 1985 EMEU has conducted strategic briefings and consultations on the Middle East. Our last meeting was in Dallas, Texas in November of 2010 when EMEU celebrated its 25th Anniversary. Prior to that, we met in Washington, D.C. at the Capitol Center in November 2009. Other EMEU events over the years have taken place in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Jerusalem plus one in 2006 at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois jointly sponsored by EMEU and The Billy Graham Center.

Attendance is by invitation only.

If you are not on the EMEU mailing list or EMEU News list and would like to apply for an invitation to this briefing please click subscribe and type the acronym EBOME in the “why you wish to subscribe” block.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Providing a Well and Classrooms for Goshen School, Luweero, Uganda

Members of Christ Church family and friends raised over £6,900 at the Stanlake Park Wine Estate "Turning Wine into Water" event. Despite serious amounts of rain in the morning the skies were mostly clear for the afternoon. A big thank you to Mr and Mrs Peter Dart, who own Stanlake, for hosting the event. We invite you to visit during the English Wine Festival next weekend Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th July.

Combined with gifts already received, we have raised over £20,000. This will be enough to provide a well for Goshen school and Nkondo Village in Uganda and  enough for three additional classrooms (they need four). In August a small team from Virginia Water will be going to help with the construction work.

Shadrach Luwago
is the pharmacist at Kiwoko Hospital. He pastors a local church and also leads the hospital mission team. He and his wife Nora also care for around 30 orphans in their own home.

A year ago Shadrach founded a much needed school in the nearby village of Nkondo. Goshen school has already proved very popular with 240 children registered. Besides needing additional permanent buildings (another story), their most pressing need is for clean water, and that is where you come in. The nearest safe water supply is 3 kilometres away.

Help dig a well for Goshen School

 It is going to cost about £4,000 to survey the ground, dig the well and install a pump. Providing safe clean drinking water will significantly reduce mortality rates as well as sickness and disease for hundreds of people.
A Ugandan based charity called Fields of Life which helps build schools in East Africa has the necessary drilling equipment.

Dear Stephen,

Greetings from Goshen family. Thank you very much for the email. I am sorry for the delay to reply this email. I have had problems with connections and many days after work i had to go to school to collect water for the kids with the pickup. The nearest water source is approx. 3 kilometres. Because at the school now we have 240 kids, it becomes very difficult to fetch enough water for all of them, especially during lunch time when it is very hot and every child after having lunch is thirst for some water. It is difficult for them to run 3 kms. to the well and 3 kms. back for the afternoon classes.

This is why i have to fetch for them some water for drinking and also for cooking, but because I go after work in the hospital, time does not allow me to fetch enough water for them. It is in the evening and everybody in the village is coming to fetch water so we have to queue. You can find over 50 jerry cans in a line. By the time they finish getting their water it is already dark. After class all the kids get their jerry cans and walk with a teacher to fetch their own water to wash.

Whenever it rains we use gathered water in the ponds but this kind of water is very polluted and makes many kids sick. right now we are looking for ways of getting drugs to deworm all the kids at school. Most of them are sick with worms.

We have even decided to buy a donkey as you can see in the photo with a plan of making a cart for it to be able to pull the cart with some jerry cans of water to bring to the school. Thank you very much for considering to support Goshen school and the people of Nkondo village as well.

God bless,

So, will you help me? If you wish to make a contribution to provide safe clean water to Goshen school and Nkondo village, you can do so through Christ Church, Virginia Water, which is a registered charity. You can give via a Bankers Order Form or by cheque payable to PCC EPCCVW and send it to Revd Dr Stephen Sizer, Christ Church, Virginia Water, GU25 4PT, headed "Goshen School Well"

You can watch a short video I made of Shadrach talking about his school. I also interviewed Craig Dyer of Christianity Explored and Jim McAnlis of Fields of Life about their involvement in Shadrach’s work.

You can also download a copy of this article for wider distribution.


Charities like Christ Church are able to reclaim basic rate tax (22%) on your donations if you are a UK taxpayer. This equates to approximately 28% of the gift you give us out of your taxed income. If you pay UK tax and have not already done so, please download and return the Gift Aid Declaration. If you are a US/UK dual taxpayer, please be advised that Christ Church is registered with the CAF American Donor Fund enabling you too to give tax-efficiently claiming Gift Aid in the UK while still benefiting from a tax deduction in the US. Click here for more details.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Is Zionism losing ground among Evangelicals?

The Pew Forum on Religion has published the findings of a major survey of the opinions of Global Evangelical Protestant Leaders.

Significantly, the survey found that only 34% say they sympathize with Israel. A majority say they sympathize either with both sides equally (39%) or with neither side (13%).

Among evangelical leaders from the United States, even fewer sympathize more with Israel (30%) while nearly half (49%) say they sympathize with both sides equally.

Similarly only 48% of the evangelicals say the state of Israel is a fulfilment of biblical prophecy about the Second Coming of Jesus, while 42% say it is not. This is perhaps an indication that evangelicals are increasingly better informed about the Middle East.

Charles Carlson observes,
“The poll results state that 73% of those polled think "God's covenant with the Jewish people" continues today, and only 22% say it does not. It should be noted here that this is a Judeo-Christian give-away, since it is based on a false premise. The Pew Forum and all Evangelicals need to understand that there never was an Old Testament covenant with "the Jewish people." Most Evangelicals, radical or moderate, fail to properly distinguish the ancient tribe of Israelites from the Jews of today, and in particular, the Jewish inhabitants of the modern secular Jewish state of Israel. This error is the result of scriptural distortion that is encouraged by the State of Israel and its lobbies in the USA, and by the Israel-friendly press.”
Despite what Zionists would have us believe, the greatest threat to Christianity is perceived to come from secularism (71%); consumerism (67%); and from sex and violence in popular culture (59%). Only a minority see the influence of Islam as a major threat (47%) and this is even lower among evangelicals in the Middle East who live as minorities under Islamic rule (35%).

Positive attitudes toward Jewish people are rightly much higher, suggesting evangelicals distinguish between the Jewish faith and Zionism as practised in Israel. Three-quarters have either mostly favourable (60%) or very favourable (16%) views of Jews, even though most do not think those views are reciprocated; 86% think that Jews are either neutral (53%) or unfriendly (33%) toward evangelicals.

See the Pew Forum Survey of Global Evangelical Protestant Leaders 

Christ Church Annual Baptism Service

Christ Church Baptism Celebration 10th July 2011 from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Freedom for Palestine: OneWorld

Palestine is in crisis. Today Palestinians face daily human rights abuse and live in crushing poverty in refugee camps and under Israeli Occupation. In response to this injustice, a group of international musicians are releasing the song Freedom for Palestine by OneWorld.


Maxi Jazz (Faithless), Dave Randall (Slovo/Faithless), LSK, the Durban Gospel Choir, Jamie Catto (1 Giant Leap) and musicians from around the world.

Supported by

War on Want, The A.M.Qattan Foundation, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, A Just Peace for Palestine, Friends of Al Aqsa, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions UK, Stop the War Coalition and Trust Greenbelt

Proceeds from the single will go to UK Charity War on Want for projects in Palestine. | (+44) 020 7324 5055

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Is Christian Zionism Anti-Semitic?

Catherine Lillington, writing in the Birmingham Mail yesterday expresses Concern over 'hate' pastor's Birmingham visit.

An American pastor who has said Hitler was carrying out “God’s will” by chasing the Jews from Europe is coming to Birmingham. MP Richard Burden (Lab Northfield) has tabled questions in the House of Commons asking Theresa May, the Home Secretary, why Pastor John Hagee is being allowed into the country to hold a rally in the city. Rev Hagee, who also described the Roman Catholic Church as “the great whore” and a “false cult system”, will deliver sermons at the city’s Symphony Hall on August 19 and 20.

On his website, the televangelist described the event as a “Rally & Prophecy Seminar”.
In one sermon, Mr Hagee compared Adolf Hitler to a “hunter” sent by God to force Jews to live in Israel. Rev Hagee has also suggested that Hurricane Katrina was God’s retribution for homosexual sin.

In 2008, US presidential hopeful John McCain rejected the backing of the church leader over his view of the holocaust. During a sermon, Rev Hagee said the Nazi leader was carrying out a divine plan to gather Jews into the Holy Land. The Republican candidate described the comments as “crazy and unacceptable”.

Mr Burden said: “It’s hard to understand why Raed Salah is banned from the UK while Pastor Hagee is welcomed despite his repulsive and bigoted views. I also wonder whether Symphony Hall knows what Pastor Hagee will be saying when he uses their premises.”

Rabbi Shlomo Odze, of Birmingham Central Synagogue said Birmingham had a proud identity of religious integration and multiculturalism.“It’s a great quality of the city,” he added. “There can never be any excuse for any sort of rhetoric of either hatred or in this case anti-semitism. It’s worrying that somebody like that could be coming to Birmingham and holding such a very large conference or seminar.“If part of that is going to be rhetoric that is against other religions or other religious groups then that’s wrong.”

The Jewish people fare little better in the predictions of other Christian writers, who provide more graphic and detailed descriptions of the suffering that will take place in Israel during the Tribulation and Battle of Armageddon.

Charles Ryrie, for example predicts this will be, ‘the time of Israel’s greatest bloodbath.’  John Walvoord similarly predicts a holocaust in which at least 750 million people will perish.  Tim LaHaye warns that ‘Jacob’s trouble’, prophesied by Jeremiah 30:7, will certainly be far worse than the Spanish Inquisition … or even the Holocaust of Adolf Hitler.’

While confident that Christians will escape Armageddon and witness the events from heaven, Lindsey warns
‘… only a tiny fraction of the world’s population will be left. Only a remnant will have survived. Many of the Jews would have been killed.’ 
In his book, The Final Battle (1995), under the heading ‘It will take a miracle to save Israel - Intelligence Digest,’ Lindsey claims, ‘Israel is in for a very rough time. The Jewish State will be brought to the brink of destruction.’ In a later chapter he clarifies what this will mean:
‘The land of Israel and the surrounding area will certainly be targeted for nuclear attack. Iran and all the Muslim nations around Israel have already been targeted with Israeli nukes … All of Europe, the seat of power of the Antichrist, would surely be a nuclear battlefield, as would the United States ... Zechariah gives an unusual, detailed account of how hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the Israel battle zone will die. Their flesh will be consumed from their bones, their eyes from their sockets, and their tongues from their mouths while they stand on their feet (Zechariah 14:12). This is exactly the sort of thing that happens from the intense radiation of a neutron type bomb.’
Lindsey claims that for a distance of 200 miles from the Valley of Jezreel near Megiddo across to the Jordan Valley then down to the Dead Sea and on to the Gulf of Aqaba, the entire valley will be filled with the debris of war and the bodies of animals and people, and above all, blood. He writes:
‘I have travelled the entire length of this valley ... It is almost impossible to imagine the valley covered with blood five feet high! Yet that is exactly what God predicts, and He always fulfils His Word. Some have asked, “Wouldn't the blood coagulate and not flow?” Blood exposed to intense radiation doesn't coagulate … Because of the intense radiation, blood will not coagulate. It will literally become a sea of blood five feet deep.’
Lindsey’s apocalyptic views are, however, shared by many other authors, including several associated with Jews for Jesus. Reviewing The Late Great Planet Earth their website promises, ‘This book will undoubtedly help you decide where you fit in God's prophetic plan for the ages.’

David Brickner’s own book Future Hope depicts an identical scenario to Lindsey’s. His literalist exegesis similarly creates dissonance between biblical texts and contemporary events, with invading armies using Bronze Age military tactics while deploying 21st Century weaponry.

While encouraging Jews to return to Israel, Brickner is pessimistic about their fate. ‘The good news is, as the prophet said, that Israel will be delivered in the end. The bad news is that deliverance comes at enormous cost and through great conflict.' 

Brickner is convinced Jerusalem will be the epicentre of the battle of Armageddon.
‘There is terrible bloodshed as Jerusalem suffers horrible defeat ... half of the people in the city are destroyed or taken into captivity. The destruction and devastation are hard to imagine. The nation of Israel is battered, broken and beaten. She is nearly destroyed ... but it’s not over yet.’
In an article entitled, ‘Haman, Hitler, and Now Hussein - Another Holocaust?’ Louis Goldberg, the Scholar in Residence of Jews for Jesus, describes a similarly terrifying scenario awaiting Israel, based on his literal reading of Zechariah 13-14:
‘“So,” you might ask, “with Israel once more on her ancient soil and enjoying freedom she has not known for 2,500 years, how in the world can we talk about another holocaust? How would nations and leaders ever permit such a situation ever to occur again?”’
Goldberg answers with a quotation from Zechariah 13 to prove that it will, he calculates, lead to at least 2.5 million Jews dying in Israel alone. He claims the suffering of survivors will be worse than at any other time in their history.
‘What horror! What destruction! How can we even talk about it? It should make every human being weep. With the ovens of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen still warm in the minds of the Holocaust survivors, how can we even begin to imagine another carnage?’
Brickner raises the apocalyptic temperature higher by claiming,
‘The sure word of prophecy in the scripture promises that the dawn is nearing … Listen closely as the orchestra begins. Can you hear the themes? The piece they are playing is “The Overture to Armageddon.”’
Although Rosen, Brickner and Goldberg are Jewish by birth, their writings, along with those of Hagee, Lindsey and LeHaye, could be easily construed as anti-Semitic for predicting with such certitude another holocaust, which in their own words, will be worse than anything experienced in history.

For more on the historical roots, theological basis and political agenda of Christian Zionism [and the sources quoted above] see Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon?

For a deconstruction of Christian Zionist theology see Zion's Christian Soldiers: The Bible, Israel and the Church

Both books available from Amazon.

See also 


Friday, 8 July 2011

It is Official: Israel may be called an Apartheid State

The South African Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have ruled that Israel may be called an Apartheid State, and they should know. A Press Release from the South African Artists Against Apartheid Collective stated:

"This afternoon, in a bold ruling defending the right to freedom of expression and political speech, the South African media watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), unequivocally dismissed all complaints relating to a radio advert on 5fm that called for the boycott of Israel and compared Israel to Apartheid South Africa.

In February this year, during the South African tour of the international dance band, Faithless, a radio message featuring Dave Randall (lead guitarist of Faithless) was broadcast on the popular SABC radio station, 5fm. The advert was in support of a local group, the South African Artists Against Apartheid collective. In the advert Randall says:

“Hi, I’m Dave Randall from Faithless. Twenty years ago I would not have played in apartheid South Africa; today I refuse to play in Israel. Be on the right side of history. Don’t entertain apartheid. Join the international boycott of Israel. I support”

In an official complaint to the ASA, the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) attacked the radio advert and alleged that the view expressed that Israel is an Apartheid State is “untrue, not supported by any evidence… and contains a lie which amounts to false propaganda”.

The SAJBD sought an order requesting the SABC to apologise for broadcasting the radio advert.
Today the ASA dismissed each and every complaint made by the SAJBD against the advert and instead ruled in favor of the submissions made by SA Artists Against Apartheid, who were represented by Webber Wentzel Attorneys.

The ASA also refused to provide any sanctions in favor of the SAJBD. Reggae DJ, “The Admiral”, and member of the SA Artists Against Apartheid collective, welcomed today’s decision:

“The ASA decision is significant due to our own history of Apartheid. The decision sends a clear message to the Zionist lobby that the time has come for an end to the baseless accusations of “discrimination” and “hate speech” whenever criticism of Israel is voiced. Calling Israel an Apartheid state is legitimate because Israel practices Apartheid. The boycott of such an oppressive regime should be supported as it was in our own Anti-Apartheid freedom struggle.”

South African Palestine solidarity groups have celebrated the ASA ruling claiming it as a “legal victory” for the boycott of Israel movement. Fatima Vally from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Working Group said in a press release:

“This is the second major boycott of Israel decision coming from South Africa in less than six months. The first being the historic decision by the University of Johannesburg to sever its Israeli ties. The boycott of Israel campaign is the new Anti-Apartheid Movement, and its growing rapidly.”

The SA Artists Against Apartheid collective welcomes this positive decision, an adverse ruling could have had detrimental consequences for freedom of expression in general, and Palestine solidarity in particular.

The original advert flighted on 5fm is available for viewing here:

Below is a short summary of the four main issues dealt with by the ASA.

1. Discrimination
Responding to the SAJBD complaint that the 5fm advertisement resulted in discrimination, the ASA  rejected the complaint entirely, stating that the reasonable person would clearly understand that:

“[The advertisement] is a call to all listeners irrespective of their circumstances, race, gender and the like, to support the [cultural boycott of Israel] cause…if anything, it [the advert] is condemning the actions and events in Israel, rather than victimising or castigating people of Israeli origin. Put differently, it is condemning oppressive actions…”

2. Freedom of expression and political speech
SA Artists Against Apartheid submitted that the ASA should take into account the fact that the radio advert was a form of political speech which is protected by the right to freedom and expression under section 16 of the South African Constitution:

“Political expression is of particular importance in a democratic society because it has a bearing on each citizen’s ability to formulate and convey information, ideas and opinions about issues of public importance. International campaigns such as the cultural boycott of Israel have a domestic implication as well, as South African citizens are entitled to express their views on the stance that should be adopted by South Africa in relation to Israel.”

3. Offensive advertising
Responding to the complaint that the advertisement constituted offensive advertising, the ASA ruled that a reasonable person who is neither hypercritical nor hypersensitive:

“…cannot reach a conclusion that this commercial was intended to offend. There are no calls for violence, no derogatory comments flung about, and no implication that all Israelis should be condemned. The commercial states the artists’ reason for not performing in Israel, and invites people to join in the cause promoted.”

4. The claim that Israel is an apartheid state
SA Artists Against Apartheid submitted that the view that Israel is an apartheid state “is based on a sound factual matrix and the connection between apartheid South Africa and Israel has been made numerous times in the South African media. The claim is therefore justified […] “SA Artists Against Apartheid successfully disputed the allegation that the reference to Israel being an apartheid state can only be justified by a ruling of an International Court:

“The term “apartheid” is clearly not an exclusively legal term and is recognised as a descriptive term to refer to a situation that exhibits segregation and inequality.”

The ASA noted that extensive evidence was submitted in favor of the case that Israel is an apartheid state. Some of these submissions included “reports by a UN Special Rapporteur on the Occupied Palestinian Territories as well as a copy of the International Court of Justice [ruling] concerning the [Israeli Separation]
wall in Jerusalem”.

Source: Kairos South Africa

For an introduction to Israeli Apartheid see Ben White's Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner's Guide

Thursday, 7 July 2011

The Church of England's Unethical Investment in Veolia

The Interfaith Group for Morally Responsible Investment (IMRI) has recently been in discussion with the Ethical Investment Advisory Group (EIAG), which advises the Church of England on its investments, over its investments in Veolia. IMRI’s concern is with Veolia’s support for Israel's illegal settlements through its bus services and the Jerusalem light rail tramway that link the settlements to Israel, and its Tovlan landfill site that takes settlements' rubbish.

As Brent Palestine Solidarity Campaign writes:
“The Veolia parent company is Veolia Environnement, a French multinational. Veolia Transport, a subsidiary of Veolia Environnement, is a leading partner in the CityPass consortium, contracted to build a light-rail tramway system linking west Jerusalem to illegal Jewish settlements in occupied east Jerusalem. Once completed, the rail system will cement Israel's hold on occupied east Jerusalem and tie the settlements even more firmly into the State of Israel. And not only the settlements in east Jerusalem: the “Ammunition Hill” station of the network will operate as the feeder station for settler traffic from Ma’aleh Adumim, a large Israeli settlement in the West Bank, and from Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley.”

The EIAG has responded to a campaigner's letter with the following comments (in italics). IMRI continues to question the ethical advice being given by the EIAG:

It is not the EIAG’s practice to recommend that the national investing bodies of the Church avoid investment in companies operating in particular territories or countries such as Palestine, Sudan or Burma on the grounds that breaches of international law, international humanitarian law or human rights are associated with those territories or countries.

As EIAG I think realises, the issue is not that Veolia is operating in Israel or Palestine, but that certain of its operations constitute complicity in Israel's breaches of international law.

The court case in the French courts brought by the Palestinian Solidarity Association about the legality of Veolia’s involvement in the JLRT in terms of both international and French law (I believe that the court has issued its first finding and found that Veolia is not in breach of international or French law)

That is not strictly correct. The Court decided that it had to answer a preliminary question, namely whether the international law provisions in question gave rise to justiciable rights under French law between private parties (horizontal impact of international law). It answered that question negatively, but that is not the same as clearing Veolia of a breach of international law, which was not in fact addressed by the Nanterre High Court.

Our approach is to consider what companies themselves are doing, not to judge companies on the grounds of what the states in the territories or countries where the companies operate are doing.

Where the objection is complicity in the state's wrong-doing that wrong-doing is very relevant. This is the case with Veolia and Israel.

“Companies are encouraged to take adequate steps to identify the interaction between their core business operations and conflict dynamics and ensure that they do no harm.” (Core Business Guidance Point 1)

Complicity in Israel's breaches of international law is a clear case of interaction between Veolia's core business operations and conflict dynamics that does great harm.

The EIAG’s position in this engagement with Veolia has been that Veolia need to reassure the EIAG that their business activities (a) conform with international law, (b) do not discriminate between Palestinians and Israelis, and (c) make the situation on the ground better not worse.

(a) Veolia's complicity in Israel's violation of international law may or may not be illegal, but it cannot be described as conforming with international law.

(b) Veolia's bus services certainly discriminate between Palestinians and Israelis, as has their advertisement for light rail operatives.

(c) Veolia's support for settlements certainly makes the situation on the ground worse by consolidating and perpetuating their illegal establishment

The EIAG takes the view that Veolia has responded to our engagement seriously and responsibly, and that the disposal by the company of its interest in the JLRT meets our concerns.

The disposal of Veolia's JLRT interests has not yet happened and may not do so. Veolia has not admitted to anything unethical about its JLRT involvement and says that it is selling up merely because it was made a good offer. Taking into account too the technical assistance contract that will maintain Veolia's involvement even if its JLRT shares are sold, its bus services that it is doing nothing about, and its cynical intention (perhaps realised by now) of selling Tovlan to an illegal Israeli settlement, Veolia's stated intention of selling its JLRT shares cannot be an adequate indication that it is abandoning its unethical practices. Veolia's contracts, operations and intentions still amount to complicity in war crimes. They should be of deep concern to the EIAG, and the Church of England should not hold shares in Veolia whilst they continue.

For further information see: “French court decision on Jerusalem light rail must be challenged” by Daniel Machover and Adri Nieuwhof

See also correspondence with the EIAG in 2005 over its questionable advice to the Anglican Church on Caterpillar

Monday, 4 July 2011

Pastor John Hagee, Sheikh Raed Salah and the Home Secretary

Is there one application of British immigration law for Arab Muslims and another for American Christians? This letter has been sent to the Home Secretary by a Muslim colleague. We wait to see whether the Home Secretary will apply the same criteria to Pastor Hagee as has been applied to Sheikh Salah.

Rt Hon Theresa May MP
House of Commons

Dear Home Secretary,

I note from the recent press your decision to arrest Sheikh Raed Salah for reasons that are yet unconfirmed. It has been reported that the decision to arrest Mr Salah followed an appeal by the Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, Mike Freer, to yourself in the Commons that Salah be banned from Britain because of his "history of virulent anti-semitism". Mr Freer remarked, "I have been questioning the propriety of providing a platform to a speaker who reportedly peddles the conspiracy theories of Jewish involvement in the 9/11 plots."

I am not disputing your decision to arrest Mr Salah as I am not familiar with his views and had not heard of him prior to his arrest. However, I hope your judgement was made in good faith and that the evidence presented to you was sufficient enough to warrant the drastic steps the Home Office took to uphold public safety.

I am writing to bring to your attention a 3-day 'Rally and Prophecy Conference' by American Pastor John Hagee, to be held in Birmingham from 18 August 2011. Hagee is widely condemned by the liberal American Jewish community for his virulent anti-semitism, Islamophobia and homophobia. Although Hagee is a strong supporter of Israel, he does so not for the belief in the Jewish right to self-determination but for the purpose and belief of gathering world Jewry in Israel where they will eventually be slaughtered to bring about his Biblical interpretation of the End Times - and it is this belief that drives his lobbying for Israel.

As you are aware, in 2005 the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (AFR) published a working definition of anti-semitism. In it, the AFR defines anti-semitism as including:

Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion; Making mendacious, dehumanising, demonising, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions; and claiming Jews killed Jesus.

The following are clear examples of Hagee's anti-semitism as defined by the AFR:

1. In a 2006 book titled 'Jerusalem Countdown - A Prelude to War,' Hagee wrote that Jews brought the Holocaust upon themselves by rebelling against God and that the Holocaust was God's way of forcing Jews to move to Israel. Hagee predicts, according to his interpretation of Biblical scripture, they will be killed in a future apocalyptic Mideast conflict.

Clearly not a man of patience, that same year at an event launching Christians United for Israel (CUFI) attended by several Republican members of the US Senate, Hagee declared, "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 [the] Second Coming of Christ."

2. In a 1996 book titled 'The Beginning of the End,' Hagee described the murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as fulfillment of prophecy and suggested admiration for Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir. Imagining Amir's mindset as he prepared himself to kill Rabin, Hagee wrote, "Tonight, if God was good, an opportunity would show itself. No longer would Rabin be able to transfer Israeli lands to Palestinians. The damage he'd done in the West Bank and Gaza was enough. Israel had a divine right to the land, and to give it away was an act of treason against Israel and an abomination against God."

3. In a chapter titled 'Who Controls America,' from his 1997 book 'Day of Deception,' Hagee claimed, "The [US] Federal Reserve has never been audited, and yet it controls the value of money in this country... While most of the stockholders are members of the so-called Eastern Establishment, allegedly the four largest stockholders are not even Americans but members of the Rothschild family of Europe." Hagee then went on to claim, "God says in the book of Haggai, 'The silver is mine, and gold is mine.' He is not controlled by the Eastern Establishment, He's not controlled by the Rothschilds."

4. In a series of sermons delivered in 2003 titled 'Iraq the Final War,' Hagee stated, "[America's] economic destiny is controlled by the Federal Reserve system that is now headed by Alan Greenspan. Think about this. It is not a government institution. It is controlled by a group of Class A stockholders including the Rothschilds of Europe and the David Rockefellers of America."

5. In a 2006 interview on America's National Public Radio, Pastor Hagee depicted Jews as Christ killers. Responding to a question about the End Times, the Pastor stated, "Zechariah says in the 14th chapter 'and when they, the Jewish people, see him whom they have pierced' - and the word pierced there actually refers to his rib and side - 'when they see him whom they have pierced, they will weep as one weeps for his only son for a period of one week.'"

As a British Muslim I strongly support all efforts to tackle anti-semitism because I firmly believe that a society that cannot eliminate anti-semitism certainly cannot eliminate Islamophobia. It is for this reason that I urge you to deny Pastor John Hagee entry in to the UK.

I hope and trust you will apply your judgement fairly.

Name withheld
See also Weird and Wacky Theology 3: Armageddon out of here

and John Hagee and Incitement to Racial and Religious Hatred

Being a Palestinian Christian in Bethlehem

Munther talks about Being a Palestinian Christian from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

Munther is on the faculty at Bethlehem Bible College. He visited Christ Church, Virginia Water and spoke about what it is like being a Palestinian Christian in Bethlehem and about the Bible College.


Saturday, 2 July 2011

Justice will prevail even if the Flotilla does not sail

July 1, 2011

Greek Ambassador to Canada

Your Excellency:

It seems that the Greek Government has succumbed to Israeli pressure and blackmail to stop the Freedom Flotilla from leaving Greece. By doing so, the Greek government has proven that it is prone to Israeli, US and European pressures and does not care for principles, the rule of international humanitarian law nor for the long standing friendship between the Palestinian and Arab peoples and the Greek people. With this move, the Greek government is implicating itself and its country in Israeli war crimes and Apartheid. We call on the Greek government to immediately lift the ban on the FREEDOM Flotilla and allow it to sail to Gaza and to stop doing the dirty work for the Israeli government. We will call for a Boycott of Greek Products if you do not immediately reverse your hostile action towards the international human rights activists. We hate to resort to such actions because we know the Greek people are not behind your government’s move, but you leave all of us who believe in peace with justice with no other choice.

Hanna Kawas
Canada Palestine Association

Richard Silverstein writes,
"The Greek government has now become a direct accomplice of the Israeli plan to sabotage the Gaza flotilla.  When the Audacity of Hope set sail earlier today from its Greek port, a Coast Guard boat intercepted it followed by another full of Greek commandos.  Apparently a nation teetering on the brink of bankruptcy can muster armed to the teeth commandos to commandeer an unarmed civilian vessel full of peace activists.  Instead of saving its country from impending collapse, Greece is petrified of 60 American peace activists in a small boat sailing to Gaza.  For shame.  But this is what happens when your country has mortgaged its future through economic indulgence, leaving itself open to the pressure, blandishments, and extortion of other nations."
Read more here

Philip Weiss also offers some perceptive observations :
Evidently, the Israelis and Americans (and the French and Germans?) have succeeded in pressuring the failing Greek government into preventing the flotilla from sailing. As Medea Benjamin pointed out earlier, this likely has a lot to do with Greece’s sovereign debt crisis.
While many of us feel angry, it’s probably best not to direct our anger at the Greek government. After all, here is a coalition which has surrendered its sovereign decision-making process in order to secure a few more billion stopgap dollars. And for all its troubles – for the hot humiliation of being dictated to – the Papandreou government will likely still be “restructured.” The average Greek deserves our sympathy for the years of economic and social pain they’re in for (probably, the average EU citizen too).
Collectively, it’s important for activists to remember that the flotilla isn’t a goal unto itself. The main objective here is to draw attention to numerous Israeli violations of international law (chiefly, ghettoizing a people through collective punishment for racial difference). The dedicated activists on the Gaza-bound ships are risking their lives to publicize the human rights and needs of the Palestinians in Gaza. That’s where the focus ought to remain.
The main project at hand is working towards a just solution to the conflict, which I believe means overcoming Zionism.
 He concludes
It is easy to feel powerless, helpless and small when faced with the combined power of large states and supranational institutions, particularly when they’re subordinated to nefarious personal ambitions and special interests. But this is not the time lose heart.
The Palestinian struggle is a long one. The Palestinian people have experienced heartbreak after setback after shocking disappointment for generations now.
And yet, the struggle continues. Indeed, Palestinian resilience is a hallmark of the struggle. Our struggle will continue for the foreseeable future; this won’t get any easier.
In the nearer term, the Papandreou government will fail. The special-interest automatons occupying the dining rooms of the Four Seasons on both sides of the Atlantic will fail. That’s partly because activists will double, redouble, and treble their efforts. But it’s also because the Obamas of the world are hollow and cynical: shiny trinkets do not comprise a value system.
We are driven by the unyielding belief in justice, above all. We are unmovable. And we will prevail.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Save Jerusalem Launch with Palestine Solidarity Campaign in the House of Lords

See more photos here

Planting Hope in Palestine

A group of senior church leaders from the United States recently visited the Palestinian village of Aboud near Ramallah. Most of the surrounding fields and olive groves have been stolen by the Israeli government to build illegal Jews-only colonies. The villagers of Aboud are now imprisoned in their own village cut off from their source of income and denied any possibility of future growth. Most of the roads out have been blocked by razor wire or mounds of rock. The one road in and out is monitored by armed Israeli guards and cameras from control towers. Even the village water pump has been confiscated and re-routed to supply the illegal settlements. This map shows how much of the village land has been stolen.

We decided to do something non-violent to resist the occupation - show solidarity with he villagers, many of whom are Christians, and plant hope in the form of olive trees.

You can view more photos of the olive tree planting here. You can meet some of the lovely people of Aboud here and some of their wall art here.

Support the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

Subject: Support the Gaza Freedom Flotilla !
Main Switchboard:
 Let Our People GO !!
I urge you to advise Israel to allow the peaceful "Gaza Freedom Flotilla" of 10 ships and 1,000 peaceful people to proceed to Gaza to offload humanitarian supplies and to draw international attention to Israel’s siege of Gaza so that that siege will be lifted. I demand that you reverse your critical stance toward the Freedom Flotilla and support the Flotilla instead. Secretary Clinton has said that the Flotilla is "provocative", "dangerous", and "unnecessary". But what is more provocative, dangerous and unnecessary than Israel’s occupation of Palestine for 60 years !?!?! You at the U.S. State Department should be spending your time lifting the Israeli siege of Gaza and granting the Palestinians in general their full freedom.
By the Law of the Sea, the Freedom Flotilla will not be in Israeli territorial waters, but will be sailing to Gaza and will be in Gaza territorial waters. By no stretch of the imagination are Gaza waters in the State of Israel, or part of the "sovereignty" of Israel.

Instead of disparaging the Freedom Flotilla and, in a sense, giving Israel the green light to attack the Flotilla, Secretary Clinton should be protective of the Freedom Flotilla, and advise Israel not to use force against the Flotilla. There are U.S. citizens aboard the ship Audacity of Hope, and Secretary Clinton, instead of warning them not to go, should take responsibility for their safety and make sure that no harm comes to these, our fellow citizens, nor to any other passenger on those ships and boats.

On Friday, June 24, 2011, the State Department implied that Freedom Flotilla passengers may be subject to fines and jail for providing support for the Hamas, a group duly elected by the Palestinian people, yet designated by the U.S. as a foreign terrorist organization. But Israel has committed far more and worse terrorist acts against the Palestinians than vice versa. The Israelis misuse u.s.-made F-16s, Apache helicopter gunships, naval bombardment, drones, illegal white phosphorous (burns to the bone and keeps burning), and countless other weapons (many "experimental") against the relatively defenseless Palestinian people in terrorist acts abhorred by the international community.

Force by Israel will not be appropriate nor necessary against these peaceful, unarmed people coming by ship to Gaza. If you’ll remember, because the State Department said nothing, the 2010 Freedom Flotilla was met with violence from Israel --- Israel killed 9 unarmed Turkish civilians in an act of terrorism condemned by the world. Any blood shed will be on your hands if you fail to warn Israel not to use force this year. You at the U.S. State Department should be making all efforts to lift the Israeli siege against Gaza, and to grant the Palestinians in general their full freedom.

Sincerely yours,
Daniel Stone
See more on the Freedom Flotilla