Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East deplores the Sabeel Apartheid Conference held in Boston's Old South Church, October 26-27. While claiming to be a paradigm for "Justice & Peace," the conference was filled with vitriolic and one-sided attacks on Israel and invidious comparisons of racist South African apartheid to policies Israel has adopted largely in the context of self-defense.
"This is particularly disturbing in light of Sabeel's history of employing deicide imagery when referring to Israel, championing a one-state solution and openly questioning the legitimacy of a Jewish state," stated Sr. Ruth Lautt, Fair Witness National Director.
Comparisons of Israel to an apartheid state at this conference were not linked to factual reality. For example, in a speech given by David Wildman, Executive Secretary for Human Rights & Racial Justice at the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 was characterized as one of the "apartheid realities." According to Rev. L. T. Archer Summers, Senior Minister at the First United Methodist Church in Palo Alto, California, "Mr. Wildman's reference to an internationally sanctioned ceasefire that 'allowed . . .PLO fighters safe passage out,' portrays the PLO in Lebanon as innocent victims of unprovoked Israeli aggression. The reality? The PLO had been launching attacks on Israel from southern Lebanon through the 1970s. Why is this key part of the history missing from Mr. Wildman's narrative?"
"The selective telling of both historical and current facts on the ground has become a staple for Sabeel," notes Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, the Bernard Iddings Bell Professor of Religion at Bard College. "Their factual distortions are then coupled with classic anti-Semitic ploys which masquerade as Biblical themes. In Mr. Wildman's recounting of Luke's parable of the persistent widow, for example, he replaces the Jewish widow of the Gospel with a Palestinian widow whose husband he imagines might have been killed at an Israeli checkpoint."
"Sabeel has for years claimed to be a Christian group seeking peace in Palestine/Israel. However, any group that routinely employs anti-Semitic canards and historical distortions that invariably cast one party (Israel) as evil and cruel must be seriously questioned as a voice of truth and an authentic seeker of peace," says Fr. James Loughran, S.A., Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute.
Sr. Ruth Lautt, OP, Esq.
Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East
475 Riverside Drive, Ste 1960
New York, NY 10115
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