Large Hall, RISC (Above Global Cafe),
35 – 39 London Street, Reading, RG1 4PS
Refreshments, Palestinian Fairtrade Goods And Handicrafts Will Be Available.
Late last week Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spoke at the United Nations to request an official recognition of Palestine as an independent state with full statehood status at the UN.The majority of Christians and church leaders in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip support the Palestinian bid to seek full statehood at the United Nations. This position is not driven by anti-Israeli or anti-American sentiments but rather because most Arab Christians believe that without a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict they have no future in the Middle East, and without Palestinian statehood, there will be no end to the conflict.He concludes:
The political turmoil in Palestine and the neighboring countries has prompted many Christians to abandon their homelands and seek refuge in Western countries. This trend will continue until the political chaos that springs up from the Arab-Israeli conflict ends.
Consequently, Western Christians who are concerned for the future of the Church in the Palestinian territories and the rest of the Middle East need to support the Palestinian drive for statehood.
The danger is this: If the Palestinian Authority fails to deliver to Palestinians an independent Palestinian state due to US and Israeli political maneuverings, in the near future, the secular Palestinian government will surely fall and only Hamas will be left to lead the Palestinian struggle for independence. This does not bode well for Israelis, Palestinians, future peace talks, or for the Christian communities in the Middle East.
The Church loses its influence in the world if it abandons its mission to be “the salt of the earth and “a light to the nations.” May the light of Christ in us help guide the Palestinian people in their perilous path towards statehood.
Withholding aid to the Palestinian Authority might actually be the best way to bring about a Palestinian state. When the PA can no longer pay the wages of the Palestinian police and civil servants, the Israelis will have to take responsibility for their occupation instead of sub-contracting it. Somehow I don't think the Israelis will be enthusiastic to do so. The choice is either annexation (one state) or withdrawal (two states).
Note the irony in the juxtaposition of these two news stories:
European Union representatives have told the Palestinians that any unilateral move on their part will put European aid to the Palestinian Authority at risk, according to senior UN officials in New York. –Haaretz
Israel announced plans Tuesday for 1,100 new housing units in an area of East Jerusalem outside Israel’s pre-1967 boundaries. The move reflects Israel’s continued rejection of Palestinian demands for a halt in settlement construction as a condition for peace talks. –San Francisco Chronicle
New housing in Gilo: NOT a 'unilateral' act.So, a Palestinian campaign for statehood is unilateral and will result in the Palestinians losing their largest foreign benefactors and driving hundreds of thousands into even greater privation than they now face. But 1,100 new Israeli housing units on occupied Palestinian land is not, and will not result in the suspension of $3 billion in U.S. aid. Makes perfect sense to me.
“Tafasta meruba, lo tafasta,” is a Hebrew saying that means, “If you get too greedy, you end up with nothing,” and it fits well to the arm-twisting job Israel just did on Obama at the UN. By leaning on him too single-handedly to block the Palestinian statehood bid, to pressure countries like Gabon and Bosnia-Herzegovina to go along, and to give a speech that Avigdor Lieberman said he would “sign with both hands,” Israel bent Obama too far, until he just broke. In the eyes of Palestinians, Muslims of the Middle East and probably everybody else in the world, the U.S. president has now assumed the identity of the ultimate Israel lobbyist, of Mr.Hasbara. “He’s not the president of the United States, he’s the president of Israel,” a man in Ramallah said to me the day after the speech, and that’s what Palestinians think today: They flat-out hate Obama. They may hate him more than any other U.S. president in history, including George W. Bush. They thought Obama was on their side, and in the moment of truth he sold them out to the LIkud, to the settlers, to the Republican wackos. Palestinians, and presumably all Muslims, feel toward Obama today how the settlers felt toward Ariel Sharon after he decided to withdraw from Gaza: betrayed.Read more here
With Obama’s America now having zero credibility in the Middle East, where does this leave Israel? Alone and vulnerable to an extent that’s unfamiliar to Israelis. Until now, the U.S. held sway with the Palestinians; it doesn’t anymore. It held sway with Egypt, Jordan and Turkey; I wonder how much it has left now. In highly dramatic fashion, the U.S. stood up for the occupation and against Palestinian independence, and the result of this disgrace is that outside of Israel and America, the occupation is more unpopular and Palestinian independence more popular than ever. It’s the Palestinians who have the wind at their back now, and Israel that’s pissing in the wind. And America can’t help us anymore because America has become a spent force around here.
|“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3).||The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ… There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:16, 28-29)|
|“I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore… and through your seed all nations on earth will be blessed…” (Genesis 22:17-18)|
Most of the assembled delegates, normally polite but rarely animated, stood up to cheer and clap when the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas came to the podium to declare his application for membership. The American delegation, grim-faced, sat on their hands...
[President Barack Obama] made a speech that was so pro-Israeli it shocked even the Israelis...
It was noticeable how Mr Lieberman didn't clap at some of his prime minister's applause lines - while the rest of the Israeli delegation worked hard to make some noise in a hall that was otherwise resoundingly silent during his speech...Jeremy Bowen's conclusion explains why Mr Abbas was right to go directly to the United Nations:
[Mahmoud Abbas] didn't buckle, so his supporters cheered and even wept when they gathered to watch the speech around a big screen in Ramallah in the West Bank...
One Israeli journalist quipped that all the [US] president lacked was a framed portrait with him on the podium of Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement...
The region needs peace, and the conflict at the heart of so much poison needs to be ended before more people die...
If the Quartet is finding it so hard to agree on a couple of hundred key words, how on earth are they going to persuade the Israelis and the Palestinians to do a deal that still evades them almost 20 years after they started talking peace?
Obama's performance was pathetic. As usual, Hanan Ashrawi, the only eloquent Palestinian voice in New York this week, got it right. "I couldn't believe what I heard," she told Haaretz, that finest of Israeli newspapers. "It sounded as though the Palestinians were the ones occupying Israel. There wasn't one word of empathy for the Palestinians.And today in Prayers, taunts and weary resignation in Jerusalem.
Haaretz had already referred this week to "President Barack Netanyahu" while the racist Israeli foreign minister said he would sign the speech with both hands. Maybe, I reflected in Jerusalem yesterday, Obama really is seeking election – to the Israeli Knesset.That just about says it all. The Palestinian Spring has begun...
“Son of man, the people living in those ruins in the land of Israel are saying, ‘Abraham was only one man, yet he possessed the land. But we are many; surely the land has been given to us as our possession.’ Therefore say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Since you eat meat with the blood still in it and look to your idols and shed blood, should you then possess the land? You rely on your sword, you do detestable things... Should you then possess the land?’ … I will make the land a desolate waste, and her proud strength will come to an end.’ (Ezekiel 33:24-26,28-29)The Hebrew scriptures insist, residence was open to all God’s people on the basis of faith not race. When the people of God returned from exile in Babylon, they were given these instructions:
“You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the foreigners residing among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe a foreigner resides, there you are to give them their inheritance,” declares the Sovereign LORD." (Ezekiel 47:21-23)Indeed, the writer to Hebrews explains that the land was never their ultimate desire or inheritance any way. The land was only ever intended as a temporary residence until the coming of Jesus Christ. Our shared eternal inheritance is heavenly not earthly.
“By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God… All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.... People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.... Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one... These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:9-10; 13-16; 39-40)The New Testament insists the promises God made to Abraham are fulfilled not in the Jewish people but in Jesus and those who acknowledge him.
"The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ… There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:16, 28-29)So may God bless Israelis and Palestinians committed to justice, peacemaking and reconciliation and may his curse be upon those who resort to racism and violence to satisfy their greed and achieve their political aims.
This week on his television show Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson said a man would be morally justified to divorce his wife with Alzheimer's disease in order to marry another woman. The dementia-riddled wife is, Robertson said, "not there" anymore. This is more than an embarrassment. This is more than cruelty. This is a repudiation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.Read more here
Few Christians take Robertson all that seriously anymore. Most roll their eyes, and shake their heads when he makes another outlandish comment (for instance, defending China's brutal one-child abortion policy to identifying God's judgment on specific actions in the September 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, or the Haiti earthquake). This is serious, though, because it points to an issue that is much bigger than Robertson.
Faced with the increasingly difficult task of ‘selling’ Israeli policies to the UK public, Israel’s supporters in this country are cementing relationships with some strange bed-fellows.One waits to see how more mainstream Christians are fettered in the same way.
Israeli embassy officials are happy working with groups like ‘Mordechai Voice’, a new addition to the Christian Zionist scene in the UK. Apart from helping with local presentations, staff from Israel’s embassy spoke at a July “prayer meeting” organised by people who look forward to the day “all Israel is saved”. It seems the Embassy has no problem collaborating with Christians whose motivation for supporting Israel is the belief that such advocacy is the “key to UK revival”.
49% of the respondents supported the Palestinian bid to gain full United Nations membership of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders, while 21% said their government should oppose it. The poll showed that the majority of the support was in four predominantly Muslim countries, with Chinese people also strongly endorsing the proposal, yet even in countries where opposition was strongest, more people supported the resolution than were against it.
The BBC said that the participants’ support for the Palestinian bid was strongest in Egypt, where 90% were in favor and only 9% opposed; however, the lowest level of support was in India, with 32% in favor, 25% opposed and many undecided.
In other Muslim countries, Turkey recorded 60% support and 19% opposition; Pakistan 52% for, 12% against and Indonesia 51% for, 16% against. The Chinese were among the most enthusiastic supporters, with 56% in favor and just 9% opposed.
US and the Philippines both had 36% against the resolution, but 45% of Americans and 56% of Filipinos backed recognition, said the BBC.
It added that public opinion in the three large European Union member states included in the poll was strikingly similar on the issue: France recorded 54% support with 20% opposition, Germany recorded 53% support versus 28% against, and the UK showed 53% in support and 26% against.
Overall, 30% of the participants opted for not giving a definite answer as they thought their country should abstain, or 'it depends,' or they did not offer a view; more than half of Russians and Chileans did not offer a definite opinion, showed the poll.
A total of 20,466 people in 19 countries were interviewed, either face-to-face or by telephone between July 3 and August 29 this year.
Israel must’ve been petrified that the assault and dumping of documents from embassy windows would expose secret intelligence files to public scrutiny. That’s the only reason I can think that Israel would go to the extraordinary length of calling on big brother to intercede on its behalf. Further, this indicates how much lower Israel’s stature has sunk in the region. Now it has picked huge fights with Turkey (killed nine of its citizens on the Mavi Marmara) and Egypt (killed five of its soldiers after Eilat attack and invaded Egypt in doing so). It of course, threatens Iran with annihilation semi-regularly. The only neighboring state with which it has no major bone to pick (or vice versa) is Jordan.
At this rate, Israel may need for the U.S. to intervene to save it from its worst impulses toward self-destruction. Though I have no confidence that Obama can do this in a way that won’t bring Israel and his own administration into even greater disrepute.He is spot on asking the question why Israel has to ask the US Administration to speak to the Egyptians on their behalf.
Last I checked, Israel was not a U.S. protectorate, but rather an independent nation. Why Israel should not feel confident appealing directly to Egypt in this case, and instead turned to its evident protectors, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, is beyond me. It seems a grave error on the part of Obama to publicly announce his intervention, as it will further tarnish Israel’s and America’s reputations in the Arab world. We look like the Bobsey Twins or, if you will, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.Read more here
Sygmunt Bauman, the Jewish sociologist and one of the greatest philosophers of our time, castigated Israel harshly this week, saying it did not want peace and was afraid of it.
Bauman said Israel was "taking advantage of the Holocaust to legitimize unconscionable acts," and compared the separation fence to the walls surrounding the Warsaw Ghetto, in which hundreds of thousands of Jews perished in the Holocaust.
In a long interview to the important Polish weekly "Politika," Bauman said Israel was not interested in peace. "Israeli politicians are terrified of peace, they tremble with fear from the possibility of peace, because without war and without general mobilization they don't know how to live," he said.Frister concludes,
He is seen as one of the greatest sociologists of our time and has dealt extensively with the ties between the Holocaust and modernism, globalization and consumer culture in the postmodern era.When a Polish Jewish leader compares Palestine to the Warsaw Ghetto, its time to do something to avoid history repeating itself.
This wasteful governing by fear, by contempt for the basic dignities of life, this steady asphyxiation of a dependent people, should be the very last means to be adopted by those who themselves know too well the awful significance, the unforgettable suffering of such an existence. It is unworthy of my great people, the Jews, who have striven to abide by a code of moral rectitude for some 5,000 years, who can create and achieve a society for themselves such as we see around us but can yet deny the sharing of its great qualities and benefits to those dwelling amongst them.When asked why he had made such a provocative speech he said "That is why I have come."
"All the evidence ... indicates that Palestine was the factor that united the conspirators – at every level," they write. One of the organisers of the attack believed it would make Americans concentrate on "the atrocities that America is committing by supporting Israel". Palestine, the authors state, "was certainly the principal political grievance ... driving the young Arabs (who had lived) in Hamburg".
As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11, perhaps it is time to answer the question.The motivation for the attacks was "ducked" even by the official 9/11 report, say the authors. The commissioners had disagreed on this "issue" – cliché code word for "problem" – and its two most senior officials, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, were later to explain: "This was sensitive ground ...Commissioners who argued that al-Qa'ida was motivated by a religious ideology – and not by opposition to American policies – rejected mentioning the Israeli-Palestinian conflict... In their view, listing US support for Israel as a root cause of al-Qa'ida's opposition to the United States indicated that the United States should reassess that policy." And there you have it.
So what happened? The commissioners, Summers and Swan state, "settled on vague language that circumvented the issue of motive". There's a hint in the official report – but only in a footnote which, of course, few read. In other words, we still haven't told the truth about the crime which – we are supposed to believe – "changed the world for ever". Mind you, after watching Obama on his knees before Netanyahu last May, I'm really not surprised.
When the Israeli Prime Minister gets even the US Congress to grovel to him, the American people are not going to be told the answer to the most important and "sensitive" question of 9/11: why?