Thursday, May 21, 2009

Anglicans, Israel and Zionism – they just don’t get it

Anglican Friends of Israel are dismayed at the Resolution on the Middle East passed by the Anglican Consultative Committee in the name of all Anglicans last weekend. The Anglican Journal reports the dismay at the original Resolution prepared by Anglican Peace and Justice Network amongst some of the VIP delegates. According to the Anglican Journal, Claire Amos, the Anglican Communion’s Director of Theological Studies, feared that if passed, the Resolution would prove ‘deeply detrimental’ to Anglican-Jewish dialogue and would even appear to be ‘bad faith’ on the part of the Anglican Communion. Archbishop Rowan Williams baulked at a clause demanding a reversal what the AJPN called ‘the judaization of the city (of Jerusalem) by the government of Israel …’. According to the Journal, the Archbishop felt that using the word ‘Judaization’ equated religious Israeli Jews with what he termed ‘the political machinations of the Israeli government’.

That the Archbishop of Canterbury and others succeeded in suppressing a resolution which the Bishop of Bristol described as approaching ‘pretty angry’ in tone and volume, comes as some relief. However, the resulting Resolution still indicates that the leadership of the Church of England has not really grasped the roots of the conflict in the Middle East where they seem incapable of looking beyond the misleading paradigm of Israeli oppression and Palestinian victimhood.

For instance, the Resolution now adopted ‘deplores violence wherever it is used’ but identifies only Israeli use of force. Are ACC delegates really unaware of the 10,000 rockets which have rained down on Israel’s cities and villages from Gaza since September 2000? Or of the arms and explosives bound for terrorist operations against Israelis that are regularly intercepted at checkpoints in the Palestinian territories and at Israel’s security barrier?

Poverty exists in both Israel and the Palestinian territories, but the Resolution mentions only Palestinian poverty, and Israeli policies alone are blamed for it. Are Anglican leaders not even a little troubled by the billions of dollars of aid which are squandered on propping up corrupt Palestinian leaders and nourishing terrorism instead of being channelled into Palestinian infrastructure, education or jobs? Are they perturbed by UN-funded Palestinian schools which teach children to hate Jews and dedicate their lives to Israel’s destruction?

If they are, they are not telling.

The long history of Arab aggression towards Israel’s Jews, and the very real determination among many Arab leaders to witness Israel’s eradication, is consistently ignored for it cannot be forced into the current Anglican framework of Palestinians as victims of Israel. So, ignoring oft-repeated Arab statements calling for the end of Israel as a Jewish state and the string of failures by Palestinian leaders to honour any of their responsibilities under existing treaties, such as the dismantling of their terrorist infrastructure, the Resolution ‘calls on the Israeli government to respond favourably’ to Arab peace proposals.

Coincidentally, only two days before the Resolution was passed, Abbas Zaki, Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon, expressed the hope that the two-state solution would result not in the Anglican dream of two states living side by side in peace and prosperity, but in Israel’s collapse.

Zaki continued: “...when the ideology of Israel collapses, and we take, at least, Jerusalem... Allah willing, and drive them out of all of Palestine.”

This was just the latest statement in a long line from Arab leaders from Hamas to Hezbollah and from Iran to Libya. When have Anglican leaders even acknowledged such statements, let alone responded to them?

No-one suggests that all Israeli government policies are just or righteous. But it is manifestly unjust that so many official Anglican pronouncements reference Israeli security measures only in the context of Palestinian inconvenience and humiliation, divorcing them from the context of the widespread Arab refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist and the continuing threat of Arab terrorism.

This imbalance in the Anglican response is both unhelpful for Palestinians who need friends to be honest about the root causes of their suffering, and unjust to Israel which has repeatedly demonstrated willingness to make concessions for peace, but nevertheless refuses to leave her citizens to the mercy of Arab leaders, at the behest of a deeply hostile UN.

It is heartening to learn that the Archbishop of Canterbury is overseeing ongoing dialogue between Anglicans and Jews. The refusal of Anglican leaders to allow the ACC meeting to be used by the Anglican Peace and Justice Network to platform their fury against Israel is a relief. But more is needed.

Anglican leaders need to confront the uncomfortable fact that they have adopted a narrative framework of the conflict that is historically flawed and ideologically skewed. That is why it is imperative that Claire Amos’ suggestion that the Anglican Church explore its understanding of Zionism should be taken up very soon.


Anonymous Anglican without a Church said...

The Anglican church has already bent over backwards to accommodate Zionists even to the extent of alienating its own congregation. Every concession it makes is followed by demands for another one. I see the church has replaced one repellant name tag - AngloCatholics - with another - JudeoChristians. The Anglican Church should concentrate on ministering to Anglicans instead of abasing themselves before minority religions.

21 May 2009 at 09:10  
Blogger Fivish said...

It would appear that the left wing 'intellectual' elite within the church harbours the same hatred of Jews and Israel that is manifest amongst the majority of Moslems. Have they not studied the Bible and noted that they would be cursed for their actions?

21 May 2009 at 09:15  
Blogger Gnostic said...

The Anglican church has had its collective heads wedged firmly up its own cassock for decades. And now they arrogantly insist on speaking on my behalf do they? Even though they never asked my opinion? Well I can speak for myself, thank you. All I need is one word to sum up their Resolution:


The next census will see me signed up as a Jedi.

21 May 2009 at 09:34  
Anonymous Kwelos said...

Your Grace's communicants may wish to peruse the links under 'Dhimmitude - Church of England' and 'Jews -extermination of Jews a religious duty' at the Religion of Peace™ Subject Index.

21 May 2009 at 10:22  
Anonymous Mainstream Parties Suck said...

Here is the translation from Kerithuth-6b as quoted below:

"The teaching of the Rabbis is: He who pours oil over a Goi [non-Jew], and over dead bodies is freed from punishment. This is true for an animal because it is not a man.(48) But how can it be said that by pouring oil over a Goi [non-Jew] one is freed from punishment, since a Goi is also a man? But this is not true, for it is written: Ye are my flock, the flock of my pasture are men (Ezechiel, XXXIV, 31). You are thus called men, but the Goim [non-Jews] are not called men."

This is paraphrased as "Only the Jews are humans, the Non-Jews are not humans, but cattle"

If these same statements were made about African-Americans or any other ethnic race of people, they would be unilaterally condemned as hateful and racists ideologies. Yet these are apparently the "sacred" law books of Israel -- a country and people we support.

21 May 2009 at 11:39  
Anonymous Ignore the Truth said...

It was no surprise that the United States and Israel walked out of a United Nations conference on racism as soon as Israel came in for criticism. It is, however, a disgrace. Israel certainly is a racist state. Its own human-rights advocates call it that. The claim that Israel doesn't discriminate against non-Jews is absurd on its face.

Suppose, for example, the U.S. Congress passed a law that said the United States is a Christian, Anglo-Saxon nation and that any Christian, Anglo-Saxon person anywhere in the world is automatically eligible to become a citizen. Do you seriously think the Anti-Defamation League would not have a conniption fit and scream racism?

Well, Israel has such a law for Jews. Thus a Russian Jew, for example, can become a citizen, but a Palestinian driven out of his own country in 1948 cannot return.

21 May 2009 at 11:39  
Anonymous Ignore the truth said...

Suppose, for another example, a group of wealthy people established the Christian National Fund. This fund would be used to purchase property. Once purchased, the property could never be sold to, rented to or leased to a non-Christian. Would that not be called discrimination? Well, there is such a fund called the Jewish National Fund, which has all of those restrictions on the property it owns. It played a great part in establishing Israel.

And, of course, if American officials routinely issued building permits to Christian Anglo-Saxons while denying them to Jews or other groups, that would be considered racist. And neighborhoods that denied non-Christians an opportunity to buy or rent would likewise be considered racist. All of these forms of discrimination are practiced in Israel against Palestinians.

21 May 2009 at 11:40  
Anonymous The Full Account said...

The Israeli "democracy" that the Fundamentalist/Christian Zionists so devotedly support is a theocratic-racist state. It is a Jewish/Zionist state devoted exclusively to the culture, interests, heritage and religion of the Jewish people. Immigration is based on being Jewish. Any Jew can claim citizenship while Palestinians who lived there for decades and were expelled in an ethnic cleansing and to this day are denied the right to return to their homeland.

Marriages and other aspects of civil laws are decided by religious courts who do not recognize marriage between Jews and Palestinians. The Israeli government pays the salary of rabbis and the employee's of municipal rabbinates and religious councils. In 2004 3,000 Rabbi's and employee's of municipal rabbinates and religious councils almost went on strike over back pay issues with the government.

Recently, the Israeli Ministry of Interior ruled that new immigrants who have converted to Judaism will not be allowed to bring non-Jewish family members into the country. The decision is expected to cut in half the number of eligible immigrants to Israel.

Under the emergency regulation from the British mandate which is still in force-- the Press Ordinance of 1933 -- the government can close newspapers at will and without reason.

. In Israel Citizenship and nationality are two different things. Citizenship (ezrahut) may be held by Arabs or Jews. Nationality (le'um), bestows much greater rights than citizenship, is for Jews alone. In 1972 the Supreme Court that non-Jews cannot qualify for nationality rights in the state of Israel because there is no Israeli nation separate from the Jewish people.

All articles in Israel dealing with security issues must be submitted to a military censor. You cannot appeal his decision. Security issues in Israel cover vast areas of public policy.

Some time ago it was found that the Israeli Broadcasting Authority (IBA) was setting up illegal roadblocks in Arab areas, (staffed by police) where Arab drivers are stopped and required to pay fines for not having TV licenses. They are threatened with having their cars impounded or not having their identity papers returned. They have collected some $5 million dollars.

21 May 2009 at 11:43  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

If only Israel could learn to be as fair, just, peace-loving and incorruptible as it's Arab neighbours then the world would be a better place.

21 May 2009 at 12:40  
Anonymous Can we do it here then? said...

Rebel Saint

An eye for an eye...I love it. When can we start it here?

21 May 2009 at 13:00  
Anonymous Penny said...

What bizarre replies!

Words fail me......

21 May 2009 at 14:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ignore the Truth:

Saudi Arabia certainly is a racist state. Its own human-rights advocates - er, don't exist. The claim that Saudi Arabia doesn't discriminate against non-Muslims (and non-Arabs, and non-males) is absurd on its face.

Suppose, for example, that the Iranian Majlis passed a law that said Iran is an Islamic Republic and non-Shia Muslims are second class citizens, if even that.Do you seriously think the Muslim world or Guardian readers would give a toss?

Well, Iran has such a law for Shia Muslims. And across the Arab world, the descendants of 750,000 Jews driven out of their own countries in 1948 cannot return.

(& maybe you could consider why it is that Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese and Kuwaitis can't stand their Palestinian 'brothers'!)

21 May 2009 at 15:25  
Anonymous Penny said...

"And across the Arab world, the descendants of 750,000 Jews driven out of their own countries in 1948 cannot return."

Just a minor point but I believe the figure is nearer to 860,000. My partner's family were amongst those expelled from Egypt where they had lived for centuries.

Everything they had was taken from them - right down to jewellery and cameras which were seized at the port from which they sailed. They were allowed to take only a suitcase of clothes and so arrived in their new country quite literally owning only the clothes on their backs.

Interestingly, none of these 860,000 or their descendants has decided that the way forward is to turn to suicide bombing as a way of retrieving their former homes. In fact, very, very few today know these refugees even existed. Instead, they picked themselves up, dusted themselves down and got on with the job of creating new lives.

21 May 2009 at 16:00  
OpenID jamestheless said...

Oh dear, Your Grace, they're really crawling out of the woodwork today!

Rather than relying on what is at best a misleading translation, I suggest reading Kerithuth 6b in the original, in the context of the rest of the Talmud, paying particular attention to the Talmud's use of the word "Adam". (Hint: it doesn't mean "human being")

Even if the translation were accurate, the paraphrase is a travesty.

(I skipped over all the subsequent comments until Rebel Saint's - apologies if this point has already been made).

21 May 2009 at 16:02  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Returning the original subject of the post ... the CofE's latest pronouncement on Israel. Like our parliament, what a whore this once great body has become. She brings down curses on herself.

21 May 2009 at 16:12  
Anonymous SJB said...

Your comments may carry more weight if you could support your assertions. For example, is there a recent independent reference for your claim: "... UN-funded Palestinian schools which teach children to hate Jews and dedicate their lives to Israel’s destruction?"

21 May 2009 at 16:25  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

SJB ... in support of His Grace's assertions, can I suggest you read the Koran or visit a mosque (any in the UK will do). Alternatively, put on a kippah and tzitzis and come take a walk with me around the area I work in & minister in!

21 May 2009 at 16:52  
Anonymous Deprogrammed said...

Israel accused of racist ideologyYou are all brain-washed ignorant masses....from the mouth of a jewish fanatic non the less.

21 May 2009 at 17:50  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

The Church of England needs to be purged of communism before any progress can be made regarding that church's view of the world.

21 May 2009 at 17:57  
Anonymous len said...

As Yasser Arafat said on Jordanian television( after signing a peace agreement in Washington Sept 13, 1993)
Since we cannot defeat Israel in war, we do this in stages. We take any and every territory we can of Palestine, and establish a sovereignty there, and we use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes we can get the Arab nations to join us in the final blow against Israel.

21 May 2009 at 18:00  
Anonymous Huldah said...


“When then-Senator Clinton introduced our report on Palestinian school books in 2007, her comment was, ‘These textbooks do not give Palestinian children an education – they give them indoctrination,’”

See also the Channel 4 programme 'Judah and Mohammed' in which an Israeli school teacher guides her students towards accepting the need for a peaceful settlement in a lesson about Yitchak Rabin whilst a Palestinian school lionises a stone-throwing Palestinian youth, rewarding him by giving him a star part in an assembly celebrating 'shaheeds'. (suicide bombers)

21 May 2009 at 20:26  
Blogger Peter D said...

I've never quite understood the religious right's failur e to recognise the presence of Christian minority in Palestine. These co-religionists are victims of the Israeli government's policies as well, but perhaps it doesn't fit the arguments in support of Israel if some of the dirty brown people are Christians. It's so much easier if they can all be tarred as Muslim suicide bombers!
I suspect as well that the money pumped into Israel by the American government at the behest of the Jewish lobbying groups for the purchase of armaments, far outweighs the money spent by the UN in the Palestinian territories!
However, despite the fact that on this subject I disagree with you almost entirely Cranmer, I love the blog.

21 May 2009 at 21:08  
Anonymous Huldah said...

Peter D wrote
'I've never quite understood the religious right's failur e to recognise the presence of Christian minority in Palestine.'

Where d'ya get that from Pete? Pointing out that Arabs, including Palestinians share responsibility for the Middle East conflict is hardly a denial of the existence of Arab Christians, many of whom are suffering at the hands of islamists in their midst.

Being honest about the failure of Arab leaders in the region - some of whom include Palestinian Christians - is the best policy in the long run. 'The truth will set you free' and all that.

As for the attempt to smear those of us who have a different perspective to yours with the slur of racism - well, that's about on a par with those who accuse all Israel's critics of being anti-semites. A cheap and inconsequential tactic.

21 May 2009 at 21:49  
Anonymous len said...

Thus says the Lord,
"Behold I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it will happen on that day that I will make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all peoples, all who would heave it away will surely be cut to pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it"(Zechariah 12:2,3)

21 May 2009 at 21:55  
Anonymous Hank Petram said...

Peter D, of course the separation wall and other anti-terrorism precautions taken by successive Israeli governments result in personal hardship to innocent Palestinians, both Christians and Muslims. The Christians among them are not however being punished for being Christians. Elsewhere in the Middle East, however, governments are not always so friendly and tolerant towards their own Arab Christian citizens.

21 May 2009 at 22:58  
Anonymous len said...

Definitions of anti-semite on the web.
'Antisemitism is the prejudice or hostility towards jews as a group. The prejudice or hostility is usually characterized by a combination of religious, racial, cultural and ethnic biases'.

22 May 2009 at 08:14  
Blogger Peter D said...

Whoa! That set you all off didn't it! The fact remains that the Israeli government is punishing an entire comunity for the (very real) sins of a minority. This, and the fact that the Palestinians do have grievances against the Israeli government, merely recruit more terrorists without coming near to solving the problem.
We all find it easier to smear an entire group for the sins of the few, rather than to deal with individuals. People who would cheerfully call for the repatriation of all immigrants to the UK will show compassion to the individual who has come to this country because two thirds of her family were killed in the Rwandan genocide.
All I'm saying really is that until we deal with people on an individual basis rather than lumping them together as Muslim terrorists, illegal immigrants or even Mexican swine-flu sufferers we will find it hard to find solutions to these problems. Make a conection to an individual and work from there!

22 May 2009 at 09:27  
Anonymous len said...

Peter D, As Arab leaders have said they want to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, how would you advance this peace process then?

22 May 2009 at 13:16  
Blogger Peter D said...

I'm sorry to be boring and predictable about this but both sides have to negotiate a settlement in good faith. The phrase 'Arab leaders have said' implies all Arab leaders agree with wiping Israel off the face of the earth. This is just as misleading as me saying 'Israeli leaders support the building of more settlements in occupied afreas'. Yes, some do but not all. Palestinians need to stop firing rockets into Israel and the Israeli government needs to stop building walls and settlements. Until there is a negotiated peace there will never be any peace and unfortunately there are men of violence on both sides who don't seem to want a negotiated peace.

22 May 2009 at 13:54  
Anonymous Ben said...

"...the judaization of Jerusalem..."

Jerusalem has had a plurality of Jews for more than 130 years, since before the establishment of the Zionist movement in 1897. At first almost all these Jews lived in the Old City, today routinely described by the BBC as "traditionally Arab". The Old City was purged of its Jews by a series of pogroms starting in 1921, instigated and fomented by British anti-Semitic officials and Moslem fanatics, culminating in the total displacement of the Jewish population in 1948, accompanied by the destruction of all 52 synagogues there.

23 May 2009 at 18:04  
Anonymous Dr irene Lancaster said...

Thank you very much for your excellent blog on this subject. I have just come back from my daughter's wedding celebrations in Israel, during which time I was invited to a Gala Dinner in honour of Tony Blair.

Two senior Israeli government ministers agreed with Tony Blair's three-pronged approach to peace with the Palestinians.

Here is my blog on the event:

26 May 2009 at 16:19  

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