Friday, 30 September 2011

The Middle East Conflict: A Christian Perspective


Large Hall,  RISC (Above Global Cafe),
35 – 39 London Street, Reading, RG1 4PS

Refreshments, Palestinian Fairtrade Goods And Handicrafts Will Be Available.

The M.E. Trust Launch at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle






See more photos here

Why Western Christians Should Support a Palestinian State

Alex Awad, the pastor of East Jerusalem Baptist Church, has written a challenging piece for Sojourners on why Western Christians should support a Palestinian State.

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.
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.
 He concludes:

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.

Christian Zionism: Historical Roots,Theological Basis and Political Agenda



Christian Zionism: A Critque



A presentation on Christian Zionism: Historical Roots, Theological Basis and Political Consequences recorded at Trinity Parish Episcopal Church in Seattle.

For related resources see here

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

When is Unilateral Action not Unilateral Action?

When it is our friends unilateral action. Richard Silverstein, over on Tikun Olam points out the hypocrisy of the US and EU stance.

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.
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).

Colegate Palmolive and Dead Sea Salt


I like my shower gel. Palmolive make Thermal Spa Mineral Massage. It contains Dead Sea salt. It feels good on the skin but it also troubles my conscience.

The question is which side of the Dead Sea is the salt extracted? From Jordan or one of the illegal Israeli settlements in Occupied Palestine?

I wrote to Colegate a few months ago but never got a reply. I want to give Colegate the benefit of the doubt. But if the Dead Sea salt is stolen from the Palestinians then I won't be buying Colegate or Palmolive products again.

It will be interesting to see if there is a link up between Colegate and Ahava

For more information see here

Recant or face execution: Iranian pastor verdict

Urgent action is needed today for Iranian pastor Nadarkhani facing execution if he does not recant his faith tomorrow.

Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani has repeatedly refused to renounce his Christian faith during a court trial and if he continues to refuse, he can be executed any time from Thursday onwards.

Pastor Nadarkhani was arrested in October 2009 while attempting to register his church. He was tried and found guilty of apostasy (abandoning Islam) in September 2010. For further details click here.

The pastor is in court in Rasht this week after the Supreme Court asked for a re-examination of his case. The deciding factor was whether or not he had been a practising Muslim adult before he converted to Christianity. The court ruled that he wasn’t a practising Muslim, but still upheld the charge of apostasy because he has Muslim ancestry.

Join CSW’s urgent appeal today to see justice upheld. Email the Iranian embassy, urging them not to go ahead with his potential execution which could happen any time from Thursday onwards.


See also The Christian Messenger report

British Government Condemns Israeli Settlement Expansion

Foreign Secretary William Hague: "Settlement expansion is illegal under international law, corrodes trust and undermines the basic principle of land for peace." Commenting on today’s announcement by the Government of Israel on settlement advancement, the Foreign Secretary said:

“I condemn today’s news that the Government of Israel is advancing plans for 780 new settlement housing units, with an option of an additional 600 units in the East Jerusalem settlement of Mordot Gilo. This is a time when all parties should be striving to return to talks and responding to the Quartet statement call to refrain from provocative actions. Settlement expansion is illegal under international law, corrodes trust and undermines the basic principle of land for peace. We call on the Government of Israel to revoke this decision.”

Please click on the link to view the article: here

Unfortunately words from the British Foreign Secretary mean very little without economic sanctions.  

Jerusalem under Threat - Public Meeting in London

Settlement expansion, evictions, demolitions, discriminatory laws - Palestinians living in East Jerusalem are under threat as is the status of the city as a spiritual centre for the 3 Abrahamic religions and as the capital of a future Palestinian state. A panel of speakers will discuss one of the key issues of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict

Dr. Ghada Karmi - Palestinian writer, fellow and lecturer Institute of  Arab & Islamic studies at University of Exeter
Rev. Stephen Sizer - Pastor & writer on Christian Zionism
Arthur Goodman - Lobby organizer for Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Dr. Daud Abdullah - Director of the Middle East Monitor
Linda Ramsden - Director of  ICAHD UK (Israeli Committee against House Demolitions)

‘Jerusalem is already one of the trickiest issues on the road to reaching a final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. But several inter-linked Israeli policies are reducing the possibility of reaching a final status agreement on Jerusalem that any Palestinian could accept. We judge that this is a deliberate Israeli policy - the completion of the annexation of East Jerusalem.'  Suppressed EU report 2005

Thursday 6th October at 7pm
Rivercourt Methodist Church,
King Street,
Hammersmith
W6 9JT
(Short walk from Ravenscourt Park Tube-District Line- or 5 minutes walk from Hammersmith Tube )

Free Admission

Presented by West London Palestine Solidarity Campaign
pscwestlondon@googlemail.com
www.palestinecampaign.org

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Two State Solution is Dead

Today, the Israeli government approved a further 1,200 homes in the illegal colony of Gilo, while the US envoy, insists  Israeli settlement freeze should not be precondition to peace talks

No wonder journalists like Ben White insist, the two state solution is dead.

"This week should be the end of the so-called peace process - and the ‘two state solution’. Whatever happens at the United Nations, the game is finished, and a transition to something else altogether is already underway...While Palestinians and their supporters increasingly and intelligently place ‘rights’ at the centre of their campaigning, soon the recognition that Jews and Palestinians must share one country as equals will mean that the only ones left talking about a Palestinian state will be those trying to preserve a regime of Jewish ethno-religious exclusivity."

Read more here.

Last week at the UN, Israel lost America

Jerusalem Post columnist Larry Derfner has written a thought provoking piece, Last week at the UN, Israel lost America

“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.

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.
Read more here

The Netanyahu-Obama Generous Offer

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Seven Biblical Answers to Popular Zionist Assumptions

1. God promises to bless those who bless Israel and curses those who curse Israel
This popular ‘red herring’ is based on Genesis 12:3. It shows how vital it is we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture. First, the original promise was made to Abraham and no one else. Second, there is nothing in the promise to indicate God intended it be applied to Abraham’s physical descendants unconditionally, or in perpetuity. Third, in the New Testament we are told explicitly that the promises were fulfilled in Jesus Christ and in those who acknowledge Him as their Lord and Saviour. God’s blessings come by grace through faith, not by works or race (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Promise Fulfilment
“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)

2. The Jewish people are God’s “chosen people”
The assumption that the Jewish people are God’s “chosen people” is so deeply ingrained, to question it sounds heretical or anti-Semitic.  Yet both Hebrew and Christian Scriptures insist membership of God’s people is open to all races on the basis of grace through faith in Jesus Christ. In Isaiah 56, we see the Lord anticipate and repudiate the rise of an exclusive Israeli nationalism. In the New Testament the term “chosen” is used exclusively of the followers of Jesus, irrespective of race (See also Ephesians 2:14-16 and Colossians 3:11-12 concerning the unity of God’s people).

Read more here

This study can be downloaded and is based on, Zion’s Christian Soldiers: The Bible Israel and the Church (IVP).  A more comprehensive Bible study guide can be downloaded from the website www.withgodonourside.com

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Obama UN speech so pro-Israeli it shocked even the Israelis: BBC Report

The BBC, unlike Fox and CNN, aspires to be impartial when reporting news from the Middle East. Today, Jeremy Bowen gives his refreshingly blunt eyewitness account of the Palestinian Statehood Bid at the UN. Here are some of his gems.

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...

[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...
Jeremy Bowen's conclusion explains why Mr Abbas was right to go directly to the United Nations:
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?

Robert Fisk in the Independent is also brilliant in his article yesterday A President who is helpless in the face of Middle East reality
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...

Friday, 23 September 2011

God Bless Jews and Palestinians


Today the Palestinian Authority will submit a request to be recognised as a sovereign independent state with recognised borders. It has been a long time coming. Many will say, what matters is what God says not the UN and they will quote selective verses from the Hebrew Bible suggesting the promises God made to Abraham about the extent of the land is the exclusive inheritance of the Jewish people today. A simple reading of some key Hebrew passages shows this to be arrogant and presumptuous.

Contrary to popular assumption, the Scriptures repeatedly insist that the land belongs to God and that residence is always conditional. For example, God said to his people, “‘The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you reside in my land as foreigners and strangers.” (Leviticus 25:23). In Ezekiel, it seems the Lord anticipated the reasoning of those who arrogantly claimed rights to the land because of the covenant originally made with Abraham.
“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.







How much did our house cost Daddy?

Shir Hever, in this week's Newsweek calculates the Economics of Occupation and comes up with some staggering figures.

Because Israel has never released all the necessary data, we've taken the numbers available from various Israeli research studies, extrapolated them, and adjusted the results for interest and inflation. In arriving at a very conservative estimate, we made sure to count only the extra costs of controlling the occupied territories, not the costs of basic-services that settlers would receive if they lived in Israel proper, or the buildup of the state's military.

TOTAL INCOME FROM THE OCCUPATION: $8.5 billion

TOTAL SETTLEMENT SUBSIDIES: $34.3 billion

TOTAL SECURITY COSTS: $62.7 billion

ANNUAL COST (IN 2010 DOLLARS): $6.3 billion

BUDGET PER NONSETTLER (AS OF 2010): $11,087

BUDGET PER SETTLER (AS OF 2010): $22,522

TOTAL NET COST: $88.5 billion

ANNUAL COST (IN 2010 DOLLARS): $6.3 billion

While the US tax-payer is funding the bulk of this, the Palestinians are paying an even higher price for the expansion of these illegal racist colonies - the denial of their most basic human rights which the Quartet headed by the US Administration are dedicated to vetoing in the UN today.

More photos of the illegal Israeli Colonies in Palestine

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Little Town of Bethlehem



Canon Garth Hewitt of All Hallows on the Wall, London, (home of the Amos Trust), kindly hosted a showing of the award winning film, Little Town of Bethlehem last night.

Afterwards, Ian Matthews, of EthnoGraphic Media (EGM Films), chaired a question and answer session for the invited guests with Linda Ramsden, director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) UK and myself.



For more information see:

littletownofbethlehem.org
amostrust.org and
icahd.org

Pat Robertson Repudiates the Gospel

"The broadcaster's advice to divorce an Alzheimer's patient is more than an embarrassment" says Russell D. Moore in Christianity Today
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.

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.
Read more here

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Every Israeli Settlement is basically a military base: Jeff Halper



ICAHD Director Jeff Halper’s interview on Israel arming settlers: Turning Tables: ‘Israel illegal occupier if Palestine recognized’.

The Israeli Defence Force is reportedly preparing settlers for the mass uprising of Palestinians, expected after the UN votes on a Palestinian statehood in September. The preparations include handing out tear gas and stun grenades to civilians.

Military resistance to Palestinians will only bring international sanctions on Israel after Palestine is recognised in September’s vote. That’s the view of Jeff Halper, a political activist and co-founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Kairos Palestina Conference, Amsterdam



Dr Rifat Kassis (coordinator of Kairos Palestine) presents its message to the Kairos Palestina conference, The Free University, Amsterdam. 



Mark Braverman and Stiaan van der Merwe speak about their personal journey with justice and injustice, inclusion and exclusion and their involvement in the situation in Israel and Palestine at the Kairos Palestina conference, Amsterdam



Cedar Duaybis shares her personal experience of the Nakba and the occupation of Palestine. She described the Nakba as "as open wound" for the Palestinians.



Daoud Nasser shares his experience of the Nakba and occupation.

Friends of Tent of Nations USA fotonna.org/​
Friends of Tent of Nations UK foton.org.uk/​news/​

For more photos see sizers.org/​photos/​tentofthenations/​index.html

Naim Ateek on UN Recognition for Palestine


Canon Naim Ateek, the founder and international director of Sabeel in Jerusalem, speaks about the Kairos Palestina conference in Amsterdam, about prospects for peace in the Middle East and UN recognition for Palestine. sabeel.org

The Jerusalem Declaration on Christian Zionism


"Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God." (Matthew 5:9)

Christian Zionism is a modern theological and political movement that embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism, thereby becoming detrimental to a just peace within Palestine and Israel. The Christian Zionist programme provides a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it places an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ's love and justice today.

We categorically reject Christian Zionist doctrines as false teaching that corrupts the biblical message of love, justice and reconciliation.

We further reject the contemporary alliance of Christian Zionist leaders and organizations with elements in the governments of Israel and the United States that are presently imposing their unilateral pre-emptive borders and domination over Palestine. This inevitably leads to unending cycles of violence that undermine the security of all peoples of the Middle East and the rest of the world.

We reject the teachings of Christian Zionism that facilitate and support these policies as they advance racial exclusivity and perpetual war rather than the gospel of universal love, redemption and reconciliation taught by Jesus Christ. Rather than condemn the world to the doom of Armageddon we call upon everyone to liberate themselves from the ideologies of militarism and occupation. Instead, let them pursue the healing of the nations!

We call upon Christians in Churches on every continent to pray for the Palestinian and Israeli people, both of whom are suffering as victims of occupation and militarism. These discriminative actions are turning Palestine into impoverished ghettos surrounded by exclusive Israeli settlements. The establishment of the illegal settlements and the construction of the Separation Wall on confiscated Palestinian land undermines the viability of a Palestinian state as well as peace and security in the entire region.

We call upon all Churches that remain silent, to break their silence and speak for reconciliation with justice in the Holy Land.

Therefore, we commit ourselves to the following principles as an alternative way:

We affirm that all people are created in the image of God. In turn they are called to honor the dignity of every human being and to respect their inalienable rights.

We affirm that Israelis and Palestinians are capable of living together within peace, justice and security.

We affirm that Palestinians are one people, both Muslim and Christian. We reject all attempts to subvert and fragment their unity.

We call upon all people to reject the narrow world view of Christian Zionism and other ideologies that privilege one people at the expense of others.

We are committed to non-violent resistance as the most effective means to end the illegal occupation in order to attain a just and lasting peace.

With urgency we warn that Christian Zionism and its alliances are justifying colonization, apartheid and empire-building.

God demands that justice be done. No enduring peace, security or reconciliation is possible without the foundation of justice. The demands of justice will not disappear. The struggle for justice must be pursued diligently and persistently but non-violently.

"What does the Lord require of you, to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:8)

This is where we take our stand. We stand for justice. We can do no other. Justice alone guarantees a peace that will lead to reconciliation with a life of security and prosperity for all the peoples of our Land. By standing on the side of justice, we open ourselves to the work of peace - and working for peace makes us children of God.

"God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." (2 Cor 5:19)

His Beattitude Patriarch Michel Sabbah,
Latin Patriarchate, Jerusalem

Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad,
Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem

Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal,
Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East

Bishop Munib Younan,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

August 22, 2006

Professor Donald Wagner and I co-wrote the declaration at the invitation of the heads of churches in Jerusalem. Theirs was  based on an earlier statement endorsed at the 5th International Sabeel Conference in April 2004.

pdf version

Israel’s advocates in the UK cosy up to Christian Right

Ben White writes over on Pulse about the how some of Israel’s advocates in the UK are nurturing relationships with the Christian Right in the UK in the same way they have in the USA
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.

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”.
One waits to see how more mainstream Christians are fettered in the same way.

Read more here

Monday, 19 September 2011

Some of my Best Friends are Zionists: Trailer



Open Letter Productions presents a trailer for our upcoming film "Some of My Best Friends Are Zionists".

Clear International Support for UN Recognition of Palestinian State

A BBC-GlobeScan poll suggests more people back UN recognition of Palestine as an independent state than oppose it. Across the 19 countries surveyed, 49% supported the proposal while 21% said their government should oppose it. The Palestinians say they will ask for full membership at the UN this week but the US says it will veto the move.

Surprisingly, more US citizens support a Palestinian state than oppose it (45% support, 36% oppose). So, if the US government vetos the resolution in the Security Council, as anticipated, they will be out of step with their own citizens.

But how this groundswell of international support for UN recognition for Palestine could be construed as 'narrow' by the BBC defeats me, but hey, even the BBC must be careful not to offend the wrong people...
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.

Read more here

Heads of Churches in Jerusalem Endorse UN Palestinian Statehood

Looking ahead to the upcoming General Assembly of the United Nations this September 2011 and the bid for Palestinian statehood, the Heads of Christian Churches in Jerusalem feel the need to intensify our prayers and diplomatic efforts for peace between Palestinians and Israelis, to consider this as the most appropriate time for such an opportunity, and thus wish to reiterate the following principles upon which we agree:

1. A two-state solution serves the cause of peace and justice.
2. Israelis and Palestinians must live each in their own independent states with peace and justice, respecting human rights according to international law.
3. Negotiations are the best way to resolve all outstanding problems between the two sides.
4. Palestinians and Israelis should exercise restraint, whatever the outcome of the vote at the United Nations.
5. Jerusalem is a Holy City to the followers of all three Abrahamic faiths, in which all people should be able to live in peace and tranquillity, a city to be shared by the two peoples and the three faiths.
Thus, we call upon decision makers and people of good will, to do their utmost to achieve the long awaited justice, peace and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians so that the prophecy of Prophet David is lived again:

« Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.» (Ps. 85: 10)
13 September, 2011

Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarchate
Patriarch Tarkom II Manoogian, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate
Very Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate
Archbishop Swerios Malki Mourad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
Archbishop Abune Mathias, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
Archbishop Joseph Jules Zreyi, Greek Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
Bishop Suheil Dawani, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem
Bishop Mounib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and Holy Land
Bishop Pierre Melki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Little Town of Bethlehem Film Show with Panel: Wednesday 21st September

Join us on the 21st September at All Hallows on the Wall in London at 7pm for the UK launch of a global campaign called Global Voices of Nonviolence along with a screening of the the award-winning documentary Little Town of Bethlehem.

For more information please visit: http://littletownofbethlehem.org/globalvoices.

The evening will also include a discussion panel featuring Stephen Sizer, Linda Ramsden from the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, and journalist Ben White.

A Leonhard Woltjer Lecture on Christianity & Zionism



A lecture delivered at De Balie, Amsterdam, 16th September 2011 with Mark Braverman, author of Fatal Embrace. For more information on the historical roots, theological basis and political agenda of Christian Zionism, see stephensizer.com/​books/​christian-zionism/​

Daoud Nasser on the Tent of Nations



I interviewed Daoud Nasser about the Tent of Nations during the Kairos Palestina conference in Amsterdam.

See

Friends of Tent of Nations USA fotonna.org/​
Friends of Tent of Nations UK foton.org.uk/​news/​



For more photos see Tent of Nations

Mark Braverman on a Jewish Perspective on Christian Zionism



Mark Braverman speaking at the Leonhard Woltjer Lecture, at De Balie, Amsterdam, 16th September 2011.

"Asking the US administration to mediate between Israel and the Palestinians is like asking Herod to mediate between the Roman Empire and the persecuted church."
 
Mark Braverman is the author of Fatal Embrace

See also I know a dead parrot when I see one

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Peter Nevins on Acts 19



Peter Nevins is our new Youth pastor at Christ Church, Virginia Water. Here he is preaching on Acts 19. For more information see christianyouth.co.uk

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Cairo Clashes + Turkish Expulsion + Arab Spring = UN Palestinian Recognition?

Richard Silverstein over on Tikun Olam makes some perceptive observations about the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Cairo last night:
 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

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Sami Awad on Christ at the Checkpoint 2012


The Importance of Christian Peacemaking from Christ at the Checkpoint on Vimeo.

Sami Awad, founder of Holy Land Trust and one of the speakers at the the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference speaks about the importance for the Church to be involved in all aspects of bringing peace and justice to those who are hurting while not letting our "end times" theology to get in the way. christatthecheckpoint.com

Watch more video interviews about Christ at the Checkpoint here

Shane Claiborne on Christ at the Checkpoint 2012


Shane Claiborne on Christ at the Checkpoint 2012 from Christ at the Checkpoint on Vimeo.

Shane Claiborne shares why he is coming to the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference in March 2012 and why he feels it is important. Shane also discusses his own experiences with meeting the people of the Middle East.

Watch more video interviews about Christ at the Checkpoint here 

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Polish Jewish Leader Compares Palestine to the Warsaw Ghetto

Roman Frister wrote a sobering article in Haaretz this week entitled Polish-Jewish sociologist compares West Bank separation fence to Warsaw Ghetto walls.
 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.

Bauman's views remind me of the statement made by Sir Yehudi Menuhin in the Knesset in 1991 when we was awarded the prestigious Wolf Prize by the Israeli Government. He gave an acceptance speech in which he criticised Israel's continued occupation of the West Bank with these words,
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."

You can experience the checkpoint at Bethlehem here

Christ at the Checkpoint from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.

With God on our Side: Monday 26th September


With God On Our Side takes a look at the theology of Christian Zionism, which teaches that because the Jews are God's chosen people, they have a divine right to the land of Israel. Aspects of this belief system lead some Christians in the West to give uncritical support to Israeli government policies, even those that privilege Jews at the expense of Palestinians, leading to great suffering among Muslim and Christian Palestinians alike and threatening Israel's security as a whole.

This film demonstrates that there is a biblical alternative for Christians who want to love and support the people of Israel, a theology that doesn't favor one people group over another but instead promotes peace and reconciliation for both Jews and Palestinians."

For more information see With God on our Side 

RSVP if you would like to attend this free showing

Monday, 5 September 2011

9/11 and Palestine

On Saturday, Robert Fisk wrote a penetrating article in the Independent entitled, For 10 years, we've lied to ourselves to avoid asking the one real question.

In it, Fisk commends Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan's  The Eleventh Day for confronting what the West has refused to face in the years that have followed 9/11. 
 "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".
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?
As we approach the 10th anniversary of 9/11, perhaps it is time to answer the question.

 

Peace Not Walls: Revd Dr Mitri Raheb


In June 2010, Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, pastor of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, gave a talk in Madison, WI entitled “Keys to Understanding the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”. The Bright Stars of Bethlehem, the US-based fund-raising organization for Christmas Lutheran Church and its ministries, has now posted the videos in seven parts:

Too Many Peace Processes and Too Little Peace
Too Much Politics and Too Little Care for the People
Too Much Religion and Too Little Spirituality
Too Much Humanitarian Aid and Too Little Empowering Aid
Too Much Passion and Too Little Compassion
Too Obsessed by the Past and Too Little Focus on the Future
Too Much Pessimism-Optimism and Too Little Hope

These videos give an easy to digest overview of the situation and would make great starting points for a discussion of the situation and future of Israel-Palestine.