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Monday, December 10, 2007

The Church's Witness on Issues in the Arab/Israeli Conflict


This is a discussion of the witness of the American Churches with regard to the Arab/Israeli conflict.(1) Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East is concerned that a bias against the state of Israel has emerged within many of the mainstream Christian denominations. This prejudice is reflected in a troubling willingness to lay the blame for the conflict in the Middle East on Israel's shoulders while saying very little about any culpability the Palestinians or Arab nations might have. An example of this bias is found in the Divestment and other resolutions that have been passed by various Protestant denominations since 2004. In these resolutions, history seems to begin after the 1967 Six-day war ended, and the "occupation" and Israeli policies are focused on as the sole cause of the conflict. Some of the Christian commentary on the conflict has become quite extreme, with accusations of apartheid, Nazi-like behavior and attempts at ethnic cleansing, all aimed at Israel. This does not serve the cause of peace and justice.

In the past year there has been an increase in attacks on the fundamental legitimacy of a Jewish state. That begins to send out very serious warning signals.

While some of this we understand is rooted at least partly in a wholesome, righteous, gospel centered and legitimate concern for Palestinian suffering, it incorrectly assumes that the party suffering the most at a given moment is the most innocent party and it is flawed in its refusal to acknowledge the complexity of the situation.

Continued here: The Church's Witness on Issues in the Arab/Israeli Conflict

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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

UCC insists it still supports terror and will continue to be unfair to Israel

It seems that elements in the United Church of Christ (perhaps it is not so united) are trying to disown their own resolution. Earlier, we reported that United Church of Christ (UCC) Reverses anti-Israel resolution. But now, a spokesman for the UCC is trying to have us believe that a part of the resolution is not part of the resolution, and that in fact, it is perfectly satisfied with Palestinian internecine violence, incitement and terrorism, and insists on maintianing its former policy of unfair, uninformed one-sided condemnation of Israel:
This is part of what they are trying to disown:
WHEREAS, many children and young people are not being educated for peace but are being exposed to hatred and intolerance in textbooks and the media; and
WHEREAS, the 26th General Synod of the United Church of Christ continues to affirm the right of the peoples of both Israel and Palestine to live in peace, side by side in two secure and economically viable states; and

WHEREAS, the 25th General Synod of the United Church of Christ passed two resolutions focusing on the actions of Israel, entitled "Tear Down the Wall" and "Concerning the Use of Economic Leverage in Promoting Peace in the Middle East," and has yet to fully address other forces contributing to the ongoing violence, oppression and suffering in the region; and

WHEREAS, many children and young people are not being educated for peace but are being exposed to hatred and intolerance in textbooks and the media; and

WHEREAS, in recent months violence has dramatically escalated between the Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, especially in the Gaza Strip, in spite of the fact that Israel disengaged from Gaza in September 2005; and

WHEREAS the potential for Palestinian civil war has never before been so real, and if it comes to pass would be disastrous for everyone in the region; and

WHEREAS, the escalating violence between Fatah and Hamas now calls us to consider whether we may have overlooked many aspects of an extraordinarily complicated situation and extraordinarily complicated relationships in the region; and

WHEREAS, we reaffirm our call to act as peacemakers in this war-torn yet holy land;

Gee whizz! Support for peace and condemnation of terrorism and  hate. Making informed judgements rather than basing them on race hatred and political expediency! Horror of horrors! What would Jesus say about that? Real heresy no doubt. No wonder the UCC is anxious to disown it. Wouldn't anyone be ashamed of a statement like that? According to the  press release of Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East.
"In his statement, which appears on the UCC website, Rev. Thomas asserts that the 'be it resolved' clauses are the only binding parts of the resolution and thus suggests that by invoking the 'whereas' section, Fair Witness is somehow misleading the public," says Dexter Van Zile, UCC layperson and member of Fair Witness's Executive Committee.
On the other hand, it would appear that UCC's resolutions themselves are entirely in keeping with the "be it resolved" clauses, which are quoted hereunder:
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the 26th General Synod of the United Church of Christ recognizes the need for ongoing balanced study, commentary and critique related to the conflict in the region;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the 26th General Synod condemns all media programs, publications, advertising campaigns, textbooks and groups that perpetuate violence instead of promoting peace; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT the 26th General Synod directs the Executive Council to establish a Task Force to engage in ongoing and balanced study of the causes, history and context of the conflict, including appropriate responses to the situation that may or may not lead to further support of economic leverage and removal of the security barrier. The Task Force is to report to the 27th General Synod in 2009 for any necessary further action, and also to report to all settings of the Church so that they, too, may have a deeper understanding of the situation.
The background part of the resolution states:
The 25th General Synod of the United Church of Christ passed two resolutions in 2005 concerning the ongoing violence in the Middle East ("Tear Down the Wall" and "Concerning the Use of Economic Leverage in Promoting Peace in the Middle East"). We continue to be committed to assisting the Palestinian and Israeli people in finding a just two-state solution that will ensure a secure, peaceful and productive future. Because the "Tear Down the Wall" resolution focused solely on the actions of Israel, we also have a responsibility to more fully understand and name the ways other nations and forces have contributed to the situation...
Clearly someone at UCC thought the earlier resolutions were unjust. Thomas for his part, is firm in his belief that the resolutions do not in any way alter the unfair anti-Israel resoutions of the 2005 UCC Synod, as explained in this article: Thomas: Synod policy on Israel-Palestine 'remains today what it was before. Thomas protests that the UCC is firm in its support of terrorism, has no interest in understanding the conflict in a balanced way, and will continue to overlook incitement and terror and promulgate anti-Israel policies. It would seem that he claims that the UCC does not "also have a responsibility to more fully understand and name the ways other nations and forces have contributed to the situation."
After the Presbyterian Church USA reversed its anti-Israel policies, an attempt was made, with unclear success, to nullify the earlier resolutions and some elements in PC-USA continued to encourage and support friends of the Hezbollah (see Presbyterian Church USA Doesn't Recognize Israel ). The same process is taking place in UCC it seems.
But the promoters of fairness and fighters against terror and promoters of other heresies are sticking by their guns. See: Fair Witness Reaffirms Its Statement Regarding UCC General Synod's Resolution
from Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East. This sort of heresy is dangerous. It could lead to subversive ideas such as "love they neighbor as thyself" and talk of motes and beams and other such. In the good old days, they knew what to do with heretics.
Undoubtedly, Thomas is one of those people who protests so loudly against "Christian Zionism" as a dangerous movement. Some tenets of Christian Zionism may indeed be dangerous, but aren't racism, prejudice and one sidedness and tacit support for terror equally dangerous? Who was the fellow who said, "Judge not, lest ye be judged?" The Rev. Thomas probably  never heard of him.
Ami Isseroff

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Sunday, July 1, 2007

Christian Zionism

What is Christian Zionism ?
"Christian Zionism" has been the subject of much controversy. Opponents of  Christian support for Israel apparently invented this name. They claim that all Christian Zionists are dispensationalists and that the movement was originated by J.N. Darby. At the same time, they mayclaim, paradoxically, that any Christian who supports Israel is a Christian Zionist. Supposedly, all such people are extremist fanatics who believe in imminent rapture, and try to hasten the apocalyptic battle of Armageddon. Supposedly, they are also all seeking to convert the Jews, and they all oppose territorial concessions by Israel on theological grounds. The Reverend Stephen Sizer in particular, has been active in propagating these views. His motives are transparently political beneath a theological veneer, as are the motives of most such critics.
Though some Christian Zionists do hold the above views in various forms, that is far from a veridical picture of Christian Zionism and Christian support for Israel. Among the most active and visible Christian Zionists, many are not dispensationalists and do not believe in rapture or hastening the battle of Armageddon, nor do they seek to convert Jews.  Christian supporters of Israel include Christians of many Protestant denominations and beliefs, as well as some Catholics.
Historically, Christian support for restoration of Israel preceded J.N. Darby by over two hundred years. It originated in the doctrines of the Puritans, which were transmitted from England to the United States. Support for restoration of Israel became much more than an article of faith. Just as previously anti-Semitism had taken hold and become an integral part of European culture, so in the United States, support for restoration of Israel became embedded in American culture. Christian support for restoration of Israel has a long and impressive history in practical as well as political Zionism and theology, that began long before the arrival of dispensationalism in the United States. We have prepared an extensive resource that discusses the theological issues, the critiques and the history of Christian support for Israel at Christian Zionism .
We hope you will find this resource of use in understanding the nature of Christian Zionism, and we will appreciate constructive comments, links and support. The work, large as it is, is a work in progress.
Cross posted: Israel News  Midde East Analysis  

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Israel: Crimes against humanity of reactionaries

Who is a progressive? Who is a reactionary? Who commits "war crimes?" The picture of massive and senseless destruction below should make every decent person angry.

Who committed it, and against whom was it committed?

The structure is not a mosque in Gaza, destroyed by the evil colonialist Zionists. It is a restaurant of Kibbutz Nir Am, a civilian structure in a civilian socialist collective settlement, destroyed by a Qassam rocket launched by the reactionary fanatic and genocidal Hamas in unprovoked attacks on Israeli civilian communities inside Israel. Their declared goal is to eliminate Israel and substitute a Shaaria Muslim state. They never hide their goal.

The rocket attacks are not a response to occupation. They began as Israel decided to withdraw from occupied Gaza, and intensified when Israel withdrew. The rocket attacks are not a response to the international boycott of the Hamas led genocidal racist government, since they began before Hamas was elected to power.

Any fair person has to look at the actual facts, rather than Palestinian propaganda. If that picture showed your home, what would you expect your government to do?

Ami Isseroff

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Sunday, April 29, 2007

The pro-terrorism lobby PR campaign

An Anti-Israel ad campaign for Washington DC subways is being dismissed as ineffective by pro-Israel groups, but any propaganda is effective to some extent. It reaches someone. It helps to popularize a slogan and an attitude. It builds sentiment and a support group incrementally. It would be wrong to try to quash the campaign, but it would surely be right to spend some resources in presenting the case for Israel in the same way. Unfortunately, in the 1950s and 1960s nobody launched a campaign to end the illegal Jordanian occupation of Jerusalem, and in 1914, nobody thought of launching a campaign to end the longest occupation in history, the foreign occupation of the land of Israel. And today, nobody is thinking of effective advertising campaigns to present the truth about Israeli Palestinian conflict.
The ACLU insisted that this unfair advertising campaign had to be allowed in order to provide "freedom of speech." The ACLU is incorrect. The Washington DC subways are a public utility, and the municipality and the directors of the subways have an obligation to keep unseemly racist and political propaganda out of the subways. Advertisements in support of the racial inferiority of black people would not be allowed in the subways under the rubric of "freedom of speech." Moreover, ACLU does not champion "freedom of speech" for causes it does not like. The film Obsession, which documents anti-American and anti-Israel incitement by radical Muslims and Palestinian Arabs, was banned from mainstream American movie theaters and blocked on campuses. The ACLU did not not take up their cause. "Freedom of expression" is guaranteed only for messages that certain people like, and not for others, but nobody seems to mind.
As Snoopy the Goon points out, boycott campaigns and ad campaigns have a cumulative effect, even if they are really representative of a tiny minority at first. Giving them publicity by protesting or blocking them will back-fire, but pro-active publicity and initiatives to counter them are essential.
Here is the full story of the Anti-Israel ad campaign :
WASHINGTON, D.C. - area commuters will be inundated with a controversial poster-ad campaign when they take the city's subway system next month.

Starting May 13 for four weeks, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has ordered 20 of its subway stations to place posters advertising a June 10 rally to end "Israel's illegal military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem."

Initiated by a charity called the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the 46-by-60-inch posters depict an imposing tank pointing its main firing turret at a child with a schoolbag walking along a dirt road.

"Imagine if this were your child's path to school. Palestinians don't have to imagine," the poster states, before continuing to call for an end to U.S. aid for "Israel's brutal military occupation. paid for by U.S. taxpayers like you."

CBS Outdoor, the New York-based firm that places in-station advertising for WMATA, at first refused to consider the poster, but eventually relented to pressure from WMATA and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

According to an April 4 report in the Washington Jewish Week online, the U.S. Campaign contacted the ACLU, which then advised WMATA to order CBS Outdoor to place the posters, citing freedom of speech rights.

Joanne Ferreira, a WMATA spokesperson, said, "We didn't have any problem with the ad. It was a First Amendment issue."

In the same report, Oren Segal, a spokesperson for the Anti-Defamation League said, "If past events by this organization are any indication, it will make no attempt to present a balanced view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and this ad is a pure reflection of that."

Jodi Senese, CBS Outdoor's executive vice-president in charge of marketing, explained to The CJN last week why she first turned away the poster.

"I initially rejected it on grounds that I thought it was too inflammatory to children," she said over the phone from her Manhattan office.

Senese recalled that she told U.S. Campaign staff that if they wanted to raise awareness for their campaign, she was fine with it based on First Amendment rights, "but not like this," she said.

The U.S. Campaign claims 250 member organizations in the United States. Its website features a prominent logo with the slogan, "Apartheid: Wrong for South Africans. Wrong for Palestinians."

Senese, who is Jewish, indicated that though she was uneasy with the ad, her personal feelings were not a part of her initial decision to dismiss the ad.

"I'm very proud [of being a Jew]," Senese said. "I thought the image was inflammatory, but I also believe in our First Amendment rights. As Jews [in America], we thrive on that right as well."

Senese indicated at the time of the interview, that to her knowledge no other group had yet come forward with a counter-campaign for CBS Outdoor to run.

Arthur Spitzer, who is Jewish and the legal director for the ACLU in the National Capital Area, told the Washington Jewish Week it wasn't "a case about Judaism or Israel. but about establishing someone's right to freedom of speech, which I agree with regardless of whether I agree with their particular political position."

Jewish organizations in the D.C. area downplayed the seriousness of the upcoming campaign.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of Washington-based pro-Israel think-tank, the Israel Project, said her organization didn't consider the ad campaign worth wasting resources to counter in the media and expected the ads to have a "minimum impact."

She said when the Israel Project and other prominent Jewish organizations in the area first learned about the ad, they worried about its "ominous" potential.

They discussed the matter at length and then conducted several focus group studies on the ad with dozens of "highly educated people" before concluding the ad wasn't worth combating actively.

In fact, Laszlo Mizrahi claimed that of the dozens who analyzed the ad in the focus groups, upon first glance most thought the tank was an American one surrounded by Iraqi children. And even when they read the poster's words, participants had little sympathy for the cause, she said.

"It's a poorly run... poorly executed campaign and the American people are onto [the U.S. Campaign's] game," Laszlo Mizrahi said. "There are real, legitimate threats to the U.S.-Israel relationship - this is just not one of

"If these guys want to build support for their cause, they need to have something to sell that doesn't encourage children to blow themselves up."
Unfortunately, Laszlo Mizrahi is wrong. Our biggest enemy is complacency, based on the premise that "nobody will believe that crazy rubbish." People believe the darndest things, for reasons that have little to do with logic. The Hamas movement and Al-Qaeda have built their political empires based on the premise that one can encourage children and adults to blow themselves up. It seems crazy to the rest of us, but it works for them. And their "philosophy" is supported by political scientists who excuse terrorism and suicide bombing in different ways. Messages manage to make their way into people's minds in ways that defy logical analysis. If, for example, people at first mistake the tank for an American tank, they will link the Israeli occupation with the US war in Iraq, which most Americans now oppose. Rest assured, that if this campaign makes mistakes, the next ad campaign will learn from those mistakes. Where are our posters, showing the results of suicide bombings and the Muslim demonstrators carrying signs, "Europe is the Cancer, Islam is the answer?"
Ami Isseroff

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Knesset Christian Allies Caucus: First Ever 'Jerusalem Assembly' to Be Launched in Jerusalem

Can Jews say "no" when Christians offer friendship and an apology? I don't see how.

First Ever 'Jerusalem Assembly' to Be Launched in Jerusalem

Over 200 Christian Zionists from around the world to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, repent for wrongs committed against the Jewish people, swear allegiance to Support Israel

Jerusalem - The Knesset Christian Allies Caucus (KCAC), in conjunction with the Texas-based Christian organization Covenant Alliances, will host the first ever Jerusalem Assembly in Jerusalem from Tuesday, March 27, 2007 to Wednesday, March 28, 2007 in Jerusalem.

Celebrating the nearly forty years since the reunification of Jerusalem, Covenant Alliances will bring a delegation of more than two hundred Christian Zionist leaders for the U.S., Canada, England Africa and Israel who will highlight their love and dedication to the State of Israel.

Kicking off the 'Jerusalem Assembly', Covenant Alliances will be leading an all day conference at the Jerusalem Regency Hotel on Tuesday, March 27th, 2007. Beginning at 8:30AM, this event will include a variety of seminars, worship sessions and fellowship gatherings. Top Evangelical leaders will speak about the Jewish-Christian relationship throughout the day, along with Members of Knesset Effie Eitam and Elhanan Glazer. The days events, taking place from 8:30 to 17:30, will be followed by a gala banquet dinner beginning at 18:45. Member of Knesset Elon, Chairman of the KCAC, will address the group during this dinner.

On Wednesday, March 28, 2007 at 12:30 in the auditorium of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), Covenant Alliances and the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus will join together for a monumental ceremony.

Top Evangelical pastors will take this opportunity to present a "Love Letter to Israel", a document pledging their "undying love" for the Jewish people and acknowledging their so-called position "as the Called Spiritual Nation
of the Almighty." They will then present the "Letter of Repentance" to the Knesset Christian Allies Caucus, in which they they will request forgiveness for the crimes Christians have committed against the Jewish people throughout history. The letter reads,

On behalf of millions of Christians who love Israel and pray for her, we would like to repent before you for crimes committed against the Jewish people throughout history in the name of Christianity. We have sinned against G-d and against you...

Accepting these two documents will be Members of Knesset Benny Elon, Gilad Erdan and Orit Noked.

The Knesset Christian Allies Caucus of the Israeli Parliament, which is co-hosting this event, serves as a multi-partisan caucus made up of Members of Knesset from the entire political spectrum. Established in 2004, this
body works to open formal and direct lines of communication between Israeli Members of Knesset and Christian leaders worldwide. Member of Knesset Benny Elon, Chairman of the KCAC, and Member of Knesset Gilad Erdan will accept the "Letter of Repentance" on behalf of the caucus.

All 'Jerusalem Assembly' events are open to the press.

For more information:
Knesset Christian Allies Caucus
Miya Keren, Office Administrator
Tel. 054-697-4172

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