“Settlers are terrorising Palestinians”

by Richard on July 19, 2011

Major General Avi Mizrahi

Major General Avi Mizrahi

A shocking headline, but this doesn’t come from the ‘usual suspects’ and I hope everyone will pause to consider its source before responding. This is not the sentiment of a western bleeding-heart liberal, but the hard-nosed assessment of an Israeli army commander who is no stranger to controversy. According to today’s Independent:

A senior Israeli army commander has warned that unchecked “Jewish terror” against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank threatens to plunge the territory into another conflict.

In unusually outspoken comments, Major General Avi Mizrahi took aim at extremist Israeli settlers, and said the yeshiva, or religious seminary, in Yitzhar, one of the most radical Jewish strongholds in the West Bank, should be closed, calling it a source of terror against Palestinians.

The army has anxiously watched an upsurge in violence by hardline settlers, who in recent months have set fire to a West Bank mosque, burned Palestinian olive groves, and vandalised Palestinian property. Settlers have killed three Palestinians this year.

“What’s happening in the field is terrorism,” General Mizrahi told Channel 2’s Meet the Press, and it “needs to be dealt with.” The Israel Defence Forces (IDF), he said, fears “terrorism against Palestinians is likely to ignite the territories.”

The general’s criticism points to frustration within the army’s high command at their ability to check violent settlers.

Palestinians and Israeli NGOs frequently accuse the army of siding with settlers in conflagrations with Palestinians, prompting the army to respond that it is obliged to protect its citizens and does not set policy.

The number of violent incidents has spiked in recent months, partly because of the murder earlier this year of five members, including three children, from one Jewish family in Itamar, a settlement near Nablus. Two Palestinians were charged with the crime.

Human rights groups suggest that the more radical settlers, many of whom oppose a two-state solution on the premise that the whole of Israel is bequeathed to them by God, are agitating against Palestinian moves to seek statehood recognition at the United Nations in September.

Some fear that the surge in violent attacks against Palestinians could compound rising frustrations with the stalled peace process and trigger more violent riots.

“The army is very afraid that [action by settlers] at a critical moment could set off a Third Intifada,” said Adam Keller, spokesman for Israeli human rights body Gush Shalom, referring to a mass Palestinian uprising.

“The fact that the army is nervous is making the settlers more aggressive,” he said

The Israeli commander General Mizrahi blamed the courts for failing to rein in the most radical of the settlers – a small proportion of the roughly 500,000 Israeli settlers who are living beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

{ 171 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Joseph W 07.19.11 at 5:56 pm

This isn’t surprising at all.

Radical settlers think Israel is a false Zionist structure that is heretical and must be dismantled.

See here for example:
http://roshpinaproject.com/2009/12/17/prominent-price-tagger-works-for-honenu/

for the many residents in Judea and Samaria, there is a high tension line holding the Jews in Israel, getting new forces to unite, acting against our enemies and their helpers from among our brothers and especially bringing about Jewish independence with righteous leadership. On Monday, we will spark among Jews that true devotion to act against what the government decrees.

R. Dov Lior openly talks about frum soldiers disobeying army orders to evacuate settlements, and even about active resistance to “Zionists” - a very real threat to Israel’s security and stability.

2

Pam 07.20.11 at 5:44 am

The following may be of interest to this discussion:
From Randa Abdel-fattah, author, lawyer and daughter of a dispossessed Palestinian. This article appeared in Sydney Morning Herald today “Freedom and dignity are basic rights for all, even Palestinians”. Randa dressed up as a settler in order to enter the Israeli city of Jaffa. Last paragraph:
“It is clear that today the weakest weapon in the Middle East is the gun. The idea of a state based on a pure race has long passed its use-by date. For all the laws, weapons and propaganda that seek to safeguard the “purity” of a Jewish-only state, the Arab Spring has shown the world that there is nothing more powerful and formidable than the awakening of a grassroots majority. And it is an awakening to a most basic premise: that human rights are not to be earned or allocated according to race or bargaining power but are a universal entitlement, capable of embracing and celebrating Jewish and Palestinian aspirations, freedom and dignity.”
Right (Write) on, Randa!

3

Richard 07.20.11 at 9:18 am

Thanks for sharing that, Pam. The Sydney Morning Herald isn’t normally on my radar and the whole article is well worth reading.

4

Robert 07.21.11 at 12:03 pm

I wonder how they reconcile the idea of a Jewish-only state, and the methods they use to try to achieve it, with commandments in the Torah about how they should treat the stranger and the alien?

5

Kim 07.21.11 at 1:31 pm

I suspect, Robert, after what has been an eerily quiet comment thread — the silence of what I gladly take to be a quite moral discombobulation — that you might not be wondering very long…

6

PamBG 07.21.11 at 2:24 pm

Perhaps it’s at least A Good Thing that individuals like the Major General and Rachel Barenblat at the Velvateen Rabbi can say these things.

7

Joseph W 07.21.11 at 5:05 pm

Robert, I think there’s also the issue of seeing modern enemies as Amalekites, which some of the religious radicals in this vein do. But there are also plenty of Religious Zionist and Modern Orthodox rabbis in Israel who will condemn the racism of the radical settlers in the ChaBaKuk/price tagger movement - price-taggers are the fringe not the mainstream, thankfully.

8

zack 07.21.11 at 7:04 pm

I agree with Pam I think it’s a great thing that members of the military are free to criticise and say contentious things in Israel, I don’t remember any generals questioning the British Armies tactics in Northern Ireland for instance.

In my view stories like this rather debunk the notion of fanatical Israelis bent on oppression when generals (not known for being Liberals) are questioning the behaviour of a tiny minority of settlers.

It’s unfortunate that other than saying ‘good on you Mr General for sticking it to the right wing extremists’, we get posts loaded with terms such as ‘purity’, ‘race’ and ‘propaganda’.

I’d wager that the majority of secular and moderate Israelis, which is the majority of Israelis don’t give a monkeys about the Jewish nature of Israel but after 2000 years of persecution are a bit wary of entrusting the destiny of this infinitesimally tiny group of people to anyone else.
Maybe over time this will change but in my opinion bombs, boycotts and flotillas merely play into the hands of the rightwingers and make voices like the generals harder to hear.

Anyway good on him.

9

Joseph W 07.21.11 at 8:10 pm

Lovely comment Zack.

10

Ric 07.22.11 at 1:10 am

Well said Zack! Those who break the law must be punished according to the law: but the violent actions of a few nutters does not undermine the legitimate constitution of the State of Israel.

11

Pam 07.22.11 at 1:39 am

Re comment #8: “In my view stories like this rather debunk the notion of fanatical Israelis bent on oppression when generals (not known for being Liberals) are questioning the behaviour of a tiny minority of settlers”.

Racism can be very subtle, it can be so entrenched that it is seen as “normal” behaviour. I doubt very much that if only a “tiny minority of settlers” or “a few nutters” were involved that the level of dispossession and suffering of Palestinians would be as it is. As Randa observed it will take the grassroots majority to bring about change. And that hasn’t happened yet.

12

Kim 07.22.11 at 3:47 am

I think we’re all on the same page here. Excellent. Joseph’s comment about the Amalekites confirms that some folk do not regard the Palestinians as “aliens and strangers” for whom we are morally responsible but as the enemy-other that must be extirpated, for which view appeal is made to a “simple” reading of the conquest narratives. For the sake of future discussion of the conflict and the peace process here at Connexions, it would be helpful to know what Earl and Doug — and Avraham, too — think about this particular matter.

13

Joseph W 07.22.11 at 11:44 am

On the other hand, we have in the Hamas charter:

“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.”

If you were wondering, the Gharkad tree is a boxthorn.

14

Avraham Reiss 07.22.11 at 12:32 pm

“I’d wager that the majority of secular and moderate Israelis, which is the majority of Israelis don’t give a monkeys about the Jewish nature of Israel”

- what a load of crap, written obviously by someone who WANTS things to be that way. The vast majority of Jewish Israelis care very much about the importance of the Jewish nature of Israel. “I’d wager …”, he says - that is the source of his opinion.

All the comments that preceed this one are amazingly one-sided, which belies a lot of the denial of anti-Israel feelings that I’ve seen on this blog in the last few months. Now the truth comes out …

But most disgustingly one-sided of all is the very title ““Settlers are terrorising Palestinians”, considering that this blog has NEVER posted an article showing how Arabs are terrorising Israelis. And note I am not saying that the title is not true: Jews do NOT turn the other cheek, that’s for you people. I’m saying that the presentation of only one side of a confrontation is dishonest and misleading.

I personally know at least ten families who have had a member of their family murdered by Arab terrorists. But that wouldn’t interest anyone here.

Together with the Methodist Church’s decision to recommend boycott of settlements’ produce, all your denials fall aside, and we now know where you stand.

And it bothers Israel not one iota.

15

Richard 07.22.11 at 1:25 pm

>> “…all your denials fall aside, and we now know where you stand”

The sentiment of the headline came directly from a commanding officer in the IDS, which is why I used speechmarks. If it’s true - and you seem to accept that it is - why is it ‘disgustingly one-sided’? In my view, Christians should always stand with the poor, the marginalised and the powerless. In Israel, and especially in the Settlements, it is clear that this is the Palestinians. That doesn’t mean I condone Palestinian violence, but I’m not interested in false balance.

16

Avraham Reiss 07.22.11 at 1:46 pm

“false balance”? What a great excuse. I’ve said this before: hundreds of people daily are being murdered by GOVERNMENTS in Libya and Syria. Where’s your stand with the poor there? (And don’t tell me they’re murdering only rich people).

I don’t know if the headline is true or not, I’m saying that you can’t cop out of your support for terrorists and ignoring their actions by fictitious phrases such as “false balance”.

The Wall built along the Western Bank was begun because of Arab terrorist kamakaze bombs that killed scores of Israelis, this has been stopped by the Wall. Settlers do not use explosives to murder Arabs. But what do you care?

[quote]
In my view, Christians should always stand with the poor, the marginalised and the powerless. In Israel, and especially in the Settlements, it is clear that this is the Palestinians.
[unquote]

- and in Libya and Syria it is unclear who is the “poor”? Maybe its Assad and Ghadaffi, being hounded by millions of “settlers”?

Richard, at least have the guts to admit that your “policy” regarding the “poor” is selective to say the least, that it is based on religious ideology regarding (against) Israel. that Israel is relevant to you, but Syria and Libya are not. Let’s hear exactly why. Let’s have some theological honesty here, so we’ll all know openly where each of us stands.

This “false balance” stuff just doesn’t fly.

17

Avraham Reiss 07.22.11 at 2:13 pm

[quote]
“The sentiment of the headline came directly from a commanding officer in the IDS, which is why I used speechmarks. If it’s true - and you seem to accept that it is - why is it ‘disgustingly one-sided’? ”
[unquote]

Richard, I’m surprised that you should pose such a question. I didn’t call the headline ‘one-sided’; I said that posting the headline without ever posting articles about Arab atrocities towards Israelis is one-sided.

Let ne help you off the hook: you can say “we value Jews so highly, that we expect a far higher moral standard from them. We think the Arabs are scum, so we don’t expect anything from them”.

(I have not expressed MY opinion here, that’s in case Pam reads otherwise).

18

Kim 07.22.11 at 2:53 pm

… you people
?
!

19

Avraham Reiss 07.22.11 at 3:00 pm

Problem?

20

Kim 07.22.11 at 3:02 pm

Yes, Joseph (#13): “the great lie of religion,” as Rowan Williams put it in the wake of 9/11,”the god who fits our agenda.” The God who justifies and resources violence and terror.

21

Joseph W 07.22.11 at 3:05 pm

In my view, Christians should always stand with the poor, the marginalised and the powerless. In Israel, and especially in the Settlements, it is clear that this is the Palestinians

Richard, I appreciate you wanting to stand up for the poor.

Please consider the 1 in 4 Israelis living under the poverty line, and the marginalised Israeli Jewish believers living as a minority, and the powerless, traumatised children of Sderot, in your posts.

There are also rich Palestinians.

It’s not as if:

Israelis = rich and affluent
Palestinians = poor and suffering

22

Joseph W 07.22.11 at 3:09 pm

For these extremists to be burning down olive groves, Palestinian mosques and vandalising property is wrong and wicked.

It is far worse, that Hamas should be targeting school buses of Jewish children with laser-guided missiles.

Perhaps this isn’t the appropriate thread for us to discuss Hamas terror.

I hope you will open one.

23

Kim 07.22.11 at 3:10 pm

Avraham, that sounds like “You wanna step outside?”

It’s just that you people is the way you address people you don’t really think are people at all. “You people” is from the discourse of dehumanisation. “You people” is the way anti-Semites address Jews.

24

Avraham Reiss 07.22.11 at 3:22 pm

Kim, if you see it that way I withdraw the remark and apologise for it. I was originally going to write - with good intention - “you Christians”, but to my ear THAT sounded insulting, so thought I’d soften it with “people”. But on reflection I see your point.

25

Joseph W 07.22.11 at 3:23 pm

26

Avraham Reiss 07.22.11 at 3:25 pm

“Perhaps this isn’t the appropriate thread for us to discuss Hamas terror”.

Of course not. This is the attack-Israel thread.

27

Matt Pryor 07.22.11 at 3:33 pm

Hi Richard,

Firstly I will say that people that commit wanton acts of violence against anyone are criminals and most definitely not Zionists. Secondly, the State of Israel takes law and order seriously and does prosecute its own, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority. So it’s not like these things happen and get swept under the carpet.

Having said that, I will say that I have seen CCTV video footage of at least one of these killings, and a Jewish guy was attacked by three hooligans, unprovoked, while going out for a walk and drew his gun and fired. Anti-Zionists made a huge deal about it. Did he have the right to draw his weapon and fire to protect his own life? Difficult question, over to you. I don’t know about the circumstances surrounding the other two.

In the case of the mosque that was set fire to (the carpet got burned) I remember reading about it, and the Israeli authorities tried and convicted the perpetrators. There have been several cases of mosques being set alight to in the UK over the last year, by the way. Did you blog about those Richard?

Now, that said, let’s reflect on Jews that have been murdered by Palestinians this year:

- The Fogel family (including their 8 month old baby who was decapitated)
- The lad who was killed when Palestinians fired a laser-guided rocket at his school bus (several others injured)
- The British woman who was killed by the bomb at the bus stop in Jerusalem (and dozens injured!)

Jews in Judea and Samaria (the region which you call the West Bank, so named by King Hussein of Jordan in 1950 after invading it), the vast majority of whom are peaceful and just want to live in the land the consider sacred and holy, suffer intolerable racism and violence on a daily basis. They have armoured personnel carriers to take their kids to school to protect them from Molotov cocktails and bricks. None of this gets reported. NOBODY sticks up for them. To be completely honest it amazes me that there are so few incidences of reprisal, and that says a lot about the stoicism and good nature of those people. I admire them.

So let’s have some balance and perspective , please…. and if you want to find racism, perhaps you should look at our own country before rushing to judge others.

Love, peace and shalom,
Matt (Church of England)

28

Avraham Reiss 07.22.11 at 4:28 pm

Something to sweeten the discussion. American journalist Glenn Beck was interviewed on Israel TV. The 1st 50 seconds are in Hebrew (your opportunity to hear the Holy Language) and the rest in English.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MatmR9KwIjA&feature=share

29

doug 07.22.11 at 4:52 pm

Avraham, Matt Pryor and Joseph, I truly love your responses here. What I have found on discussions like this that when all of the “facts” are presented without generalizations that we get a lack of response by some on the thread. So you three and others who support the fact that Hamas terror is worse be advised you might not see any “final word” from them.

30

Kim 07.22.11 at 5:59 pm

Glenn Beck! GLENN BECK! The JOURNALIST Glenn Beck! [Hang on - I've started choking on the Welshcake I'm eating ...]

You almost had me, Avraham: for a split second I actually thought you were serious…

31

Joseph W 07.22.11 at 6:18 pm

I don’t think Glenn Beck is a very serious person.

I would just like to reiterate the points I made in comments 21 and 22.

32

Richard 07.22.11 at 7:52 pm

This is not an “attack Israel” thread, Avraham. Unless you think that Avi Mizrahi was attacking Israel.

Can I just say a word about “balance”? This is a personal blog. There’s no editorial policy beyond my own whim and I’ve always cheerfully ignored the advice you read about how the best blogs stick to their ‘niche’ I like to post whatever catches my eye, and my reader seems to like it that way too. I don’t have the resources, even if I had the inclination, to make sure I’m covering issues in a ‘balanced’ way. What I do, despite the occasional accusation to the contrary, is allow alternative views to be put. I’ve even given the opportunity for guest posts through the ‘open mike’ threads, and will do so again.

But let’s be clear. While Joseph is undoubtedly right that there are poor Israelis and rich Palestinians, in terms of the balance of power there can be no doubt who has the upper hand. Furthermore, Avraham seems to accept the basic truth of what Mizrahi claimed. My guess is that he’s in a better position to judge than most of us. If we’re to say that the Settlers are somehow justified by the violence of Hamas, then the reverse is also true. That way, to coin a phrase, would leave the whole world blind and toothless.

33

Joseph W 07.22.11 at 8:37 pm

Yeah but, Richard, if you’re a poor Israeli, you don’t have the upperhand.

I’m not trying to be contrary.

I’m just saying, when it comes to politics, we can’t just think in big blocs of people who happen have the nationality. Or, we shouldn’t, at least.

34

Joseph W 07.22.11 at 8:53 pm

*same nationality

35

Israelinurse 07.22.11 at 9:41 pm

Like any other country, Israel has a spectrum of opinions and political beliefs on its map. There exists an exceedingly small minority of extremists and some of them happen to live in the geographical region some call the ‘West Bank’.

That does not mean that the majority of people who live there share their political views or participate in/support their actions. I’m pretty sure you would find it both untrue and offensive were I to suggest that all Londoners are violent drunks because a few of them happen to be Chelsea-supporting football hooligans or that all Welsh people are bigoted criminals because at some point a few of them burned down holiday cottages owned by English people.

Now of course any reasonable person knows that it is wrong and unhelpful to stereotype an entire group of people because of the actions of a few, but doing so can also sometimes serve a purpose. Crude generalisations such as “settlers are terrorising Palestinians” or “Christians should always stand with the poor” undoubtedly serve the purposes of those who wish to present the Arab-Israeli conflict in trite terms of ‘black and white, good and bad’.

Those terms are undoubtedly useful in whipping up fervour and support for “the cause” but they have no connection whatsoever to the reality on the ground and therefore must be seen for what they truly are: instruments of propaganda.

The Church would do far more to help the Palestinians achieve peace, prosperity and self-determination were it to cease feeding an unjustified sense of victimhood. The Palestinians have received more aid per capita than any other ethnic group on the planet. The PA economy is generously subsidised by foreign donors and Hamas alone receives funds to the tune of $100 million per annum just from Iran.
$900 million of foreign donations to the Palestinians were channelled into the private bank accounts of Yasser Arafat and other PA officials during the years 1995 to 2000. Very little of that money was ever recovered.

The fact that some sectors of Palestinian society still live in poverty (as, I believe, do some sectors of British society) is very unfortunate, but not only does that not make them automatically right on every subject under the sun, blaming that poverty solely upon Israel is obviously a wilfully blind approach to the problem prompted more by political designs than familiarity with the facts; propaganda once more.

As for the “balance of power”, the real picture is very similar to the PA’s financial situation. A Palestinian state could have been established at numerous junctures in the past, but opportunities were repeatedly squandered.

Rather than condescendingly relating to Palestinians as though they were some kind of charity case without agency, anyone who truly wishes to see peace in the Middle East should be acting to burst the bubble of “Greater Palestine from the river to the sea” and urging them to sit down at the negotiating table without any preconditions.

Unfortunately, too many (though not all) in the various Christian churches are currently involved in actions which are perpetuating the conflict rather than helping to solve it. It is time they took a long hard look at the roots of that approach and began to engage in some accountability for their part in the continued violence and conflict.

36

doug 07.22.11 at 10:15 pm

I’m with Jospeh on this one. So Richard, are we promoting “the world being blind” by elimination Osama Bin Laden? The fact is the world IS safer with him eliminated. To equivicate between Israeli’s and Hamas is very inflamatory and I take issue with. Hamas is WAY worse than Israel on this one. Hamas=Al Quada and deserve to be eliminated just like any other terrorist organization. If anyone issuggesting that Hamas isn’t a terrorist oreganization than those ARE truly ignorant of the facts.

37

Tony Buglass 07.22.11 at 10:50 pm

“There have been several cases of mosques being set alight to in the UK over the last year, by the way. Did you blog about those Richard?”

Richard has answered for himself, but I just want to ask what you expect from a blog. This isn’t a newspaper, or journalist site. People comment on what they hear or know about, and we don’t see everything on the news. I’ve met Richard. He’s a nice guy. He doesn’t have some hidden agenda which blinds him to what is happening elsewhere, nor is he trying to hide stuff. He comments as he sees it. You don’t like it? Fine. Say your piece - he has the fairness to let you comment as you do on his blog. But do recognise and respect the guy for the fairness he does demonstrate. You can explain the shortcomings of our understanding if you feel it necessary, but please don’t imply ‘false balance’ or deliberate unfairness. It ain’t so.

38

Pam 07.23.11 at 12:28 am

It’s clear we are not “all on the same page” about this issue. And it’s tempting to attack personally when others don’t agree with our particular viewpoint. I think Richard is pretty fair in his dealings with commenters, but it is the responsibility, I think, of someone running a blog to be as fair as possible and let people have their say.
We can keep praying for peace in the Middle East and I am hopeful that the ordinary man and woman in the streets of that hurting place will prevail.

39

Avraham Reiss 07.23.11 at 7:14 pm

Richard,
You have again avoided answering specific questions. I asked you why it is important to highlight Israel but to ignore the terror and
murder regimes of Libya and Syria. No answer. Until you say otherwise, and while waiting for threads on Libya and Syria, I claim
that your motives are theological. Israel must be focussed on. Especially negative - and grossly misleading - reports, as I will detail in the next para. You either treat all injustice the same way, or motivate why you don’t.

[quote]
“This is not an “attack Israel” thread, Avraham. Unless you think that Avi Mizrahi was attacking Israel.”

“Furthermore, Avraham seems to accept the basic truth of what Mizrahi claimed. My guess is that he’s in a better position to judge
than most of us.”
[unquote]

Regarding the report concerning Major-General Avi Mizrachi which opened this thread, the report ignores totally the fact that out of a quarter of a million of Settlers in Judea and Samaria, there may be twenty people involved in reprisals against Arabs for crimes
perpetrated against Jews. This means, Richard, that you are partaking in dishonest misrepresentation and demonization of a quarter of a million people. Don’t push the blame onto the General - he didn’t write the report, he was talking to the Israeli public who know the facts well. You made the decision to publish the misrepresenting newspaper report here. Israelinurse #35 has explained this far better than I, and is always worth reading.

By your logic, because of the Methodist Church Boycott decision, half a million Methodists can be called anti-Semitic. (I am not saying that, or think it, but you invite the conclusion).

40

PamBG 07.24.11 at 1:42 am

“British Methodists are Anti-Semitic” was, indeed, the proposition thesis that started this entire discussion that brought you and others to this blog.

I don’t for a minute think that all Israelis are terrorists.

What I think is that it has been in the past and still largely is “politically incorrect” in the English-speaking world to even utter the thought that a deed that would normally be called “wrong” or “evil” is, in fact, wrong or evil if performed by a Jewish/Israeli individual. To do so is to be called anti-Semitic some or to be accused of not having compassion for a Jewish person who is wronged by other people.

I honestly don’t particularly care about a boycott. I don’t “have it in” for the State of Israel. And I certainly want to stand against anti-Semitism wherever it raises its head.

But I do care very much about the principle that doing this or that evil deed is not evil if this or that people is doing it because they have been wronged. I care because this is a principle with universal consequences. So many individuals who have been hurt think this gives them a license to hurt others. So many countries who have sustained casualties think this gives them a license to make casualties. And that’s the dynamic that keeps people killing people into eternity.

41

Avraham Reiss 07.24.11 at 5:16 am

Pam,
“But I do care very much about the principle that doing this or that evil deed is not evil if this or that people is doing it because they have been wronged.”

- I didn’t hear anyone say that, and I don’t think it myself.

But that was not my point.

The headline of this post is grossly misleading, because it labels a quarter of a million people with the actions of twenty or so. The Independant certainly knew what it was doing when it wrote that article, and as a newspaper was obligated to ascertain the facts. It didn’t. The problem is with Richard, who chose to post the article here, besmirching 1/4 million people because they are Israelis. And again, what about the oppressed in Arab countries? THEY are never discussed here.

42

Richard 07.24.11 at 7:01 am

>> “You have again avoided answering specific questions. I asked you why it is important to highlight Israel but to ignore the terror and murder regimes of Libya and Syria.”

I thought I had answered that question. I gave the only answer I could: this is not a media organisation. It’s a personal blog. I blog about whatever is catching my attention. If I don’t blog something, it doesn’t mean I think it unimportant. And if you think there should have been a post about the oppressed in Arab countries, there has been more than one opportunity to submit one.

I don’t accept that the headline of this post is misleading. I do accept that only a small minority of Settlers are engaged in direct violence against Palestinians. But from my perspective they are all illegally settling land that belongs to someone else. (I know. You don’t share that perspective. There’s no need to rehearse those arguments again)

43

Avraham Reiss 07.24.11 at 10:54 am

“I don’t accept that the headline of this post is misleading. I do accept that only a small minority of Settlers are engaged in direct violence against Palestinians.”

Then why did you use as a headline the generalization “settlers”? That was definitely misleading. The General quoted certainly did not say or hint that. He specified a minority group. I think you should acknowledge that you deviated from the quoted report when determining your headline.

“It’s a personal blog. I blog about whatever is catching my attention.”

- perfectly acceptable. The question is: why is your attention-catcher selective, to the detriment of Israel?

44

Avraham Reiss 07.24.11 at 10:58 am

“Settlers are terrorising Palestinians”

“But from my perspective they are all illegally settling land that belongs to someone else.”

- let’s assume for a second that you are correct (which of course you are not). Does “illegal settling of land” mean that ALL settlers are terrorising ‘palestinians’? That was your latest excuse for the generalised headline. Doesn’t fly.

45

PamBG 07.24.11 at 3:04 pm

- I didn’t hear anyone say that, and I don’t think it myself.

I didn’t say you said it. I said that I believe it is politically incorrect in the English speaking world for a non-Jewish person to ever criticise the actions of a Jewish person.

Actually, I also didn’t read Richard’s post as “All Settlers” but rather thought “Some Settlers”.

I think, at the end of the day, it is down to preconceptions. I know Richard personally and I believe absolutely that he is not anti-Israel or antiSemetic. You’re convinced that, at some level, he and I are a tad (or more) anti-Israel and/or antiSemetic.

If you want my reading on “what’s going on here”, I’ll repeat it. David has been gunning for Richard and other Methodist ministers for a number of years and the resolution last year was a very powerful way for David to try to paint “the Methodist Church” in a bad light. Richard has a bee in his bonnet after having been unfairly targeted by David’s spin for the last few years and, if I’m honest, I also have a bee in my bonnet. That’s not a justification but rather an explanation.

46

Richard 07.24.11 at 4:07 pm

>> “The question is: why is your attention-catcher selective”

That’s easily explained, as Pam has hinted. It’s a well-known fact that we all have selective attention. We focus on the things we’re focused on. A shoe salesman walking into a room will notice the shoes people are wearing, a jeweller their jewellery, and so on. I’m in my tenth year of blogging and I think you’ll find that Israel didn’t feature much until fairly recently. (I’d suggest taking my word for it, as there are probably the best part of ten thousand posts over the blog’s various incarnations, but if you have time on your hands you’re welcome to check it for yourself). Then the Methodist Conference received a report on Israel last year and I wrote what I thought at the time was an innocuous comment in a fairly dull post: “I was especially impressed with the debate about Israel/Palestine. Despite the fears expressed in some quarters, there was no hint of anti-semitism about the proceedings. It was no surprise to me, of course. I just hope others were reassured by what they heard.” Shortly afterwards, all sorts of claims have been made about Methodism’s anti-Semitism and there’s no denying that this has made me give the issue more attention than I otherwise would have. When lies are told, I feel obliged to counter them. Pam’s probably right about my ‘bee in the bonnet’.

I don’t think there’s anything more to it than that.

47

Kim 07.24.11 at 4:31 pm

Thus the Blogger’s Dilemma: To bee or not to bee.

48

Avraham Reiss 07.24.11 at 4:41 pm

(Written before I saw Richard’s reply)
Pam,

Having been involved in discusions with both you and Richard for a number of months now, I do not believe that either you or Richard are anti-Semitic.

What I am still pondering, is the theology of the Methodist Church regarding 1) Jews and 2) the State of Israel.

I’ve mentioned before that the late Princess Diana’s lawyer, Anthony Julius, a Jew, recently published an 800-page book on the history of anti-Semitism in England, and the name Methodist appears nowhere in the book’s long index. One certainly can’t, for example, exonerate the Catholic Church at large from charges of blatant anti-Semitism.

Regarding the Methodist Church’s attitude towards the State of Israel, the only official statement or act on record AFAIK is the recent decision to boycott settlement product. Responsibility was taken for the decision, the consequences - charges of anti-Semitism by the Methodist Church - were certainly forseeable and cannot be shrugged off. You, and Richard say ‘I am not anti-Semitic’, and I believe you, but the Church itself is different.

So when I point out that the headline of this post - “Settlers are terrorising Palestinians” - is wrong and misleading, and I look for the motivation behind the determination of that specific wording, I don’t see personal anti-semitism, but I do feel the theology here. When Richard declares “the settlements are illegal” (with no legal basis on his part) I also feel the theology.

The fact must be faced that the establishment of the State of Israel was difficult to swallow for the Christian world from the theological point of view. I think that what I am saying is understandable to people of the cloth, ministers, without going into detail.

I’d add, as one with a bent for mysticism, that IMHO the Holocaust was intended by the forces of evil to slow down the return of Israel to its Land. It did the opposite: in 1945, after a third of the Jewish Nation had been slaughtered, it stood up, took a deep breath - and just three years later declared the State of Israel, defeating seven Arab armies who defied the UN resolution and attacked it.

(I brought up one of my sons under this philosophy: when as a toddler, he would cry, I told him to stop crying for a second and
take a deep breath. He grew up to become an officer in an IDF Commando unit. The new brand of Jew. An enigma for the Church.)

[quote]
“I said that I believe it is politically incorrect in the English speaking world for a non-Jewish person to ever criticise the actions of a
Jewish person”
[unquote]

Here in Israel, ever since Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated, the general public is very wary of extremist statements, even censoring to extremes. That is as it should be: once bitten, twice shy. That is how it should have been in the English-speaking world regarding criticisms of Israel. But it isn’t.

Nobody came to the aid of 6 million Jews being slaughtered during WWII; I know there was a war on, at least one book has been
written offering reasons why Churchill turned down requests from Jewish organizations to bomb Auschwitz. But as Jews, we see
the world standing by and doing nothing to alleviate the plight of those being slaughtered. Quite frankly, we think that 2,000 years
of European Christianity made people think that “the Jews got what they deserved”. After all, Jews were burned at the stake during the Spanish Inquisition for not becoming Christians.

So now, when the State of Israel is still “up to its neck in muck and bullets”, the least those countries who remained during the Holocaust years can do, is to remain silent now.

They won’t, of course. But now, Israel is strong.

49

Avraham Reiss 07.24.11 at 4:49 pm

Richard,
I accept as fact everything you have just written.

The only 2 real points of disagreement I have with you, are (1) the title of this post which I still maintain is misleading, but that is a one-time thing, and (2) the legality of the Settlements in Israel.

50

Bob Gilston 07.24.11 at 7:07 pm

Avraham - The only qualifying statement I would make to your point (1) is the title was not Richard’s but quoted directly from the Independant on Sunday. That of course doesn’t make the point you make any less valid.

51

PamBG 07.24.11 at 7:43 pm

What I am still pondering, is the theology of the Methodist Church regarding 1) Jews and 2) the State of Israel.

Would it help to know that the British Methodist Church (in distinction from the United Methodist Church) doesn’t really have much set doctrine about anything? One of the biggest contentions in the history of Methodism has surrounded what lay people can or cannot do and what the privileges of Ministers are - this has historic roots.

So, our doctrine consists of a few written pages on the issue of lay people and ordained people. And we say - officially - that we accept 49 of John Wesley’s sermons[1], his notes on the New Testament and the Apostles and Nicene Creeds as our doctrine. Above and beyond that, we have no set doctrine.

[1] Some of John Wesley’s sermons have distinctive antisemitic comments and, in the courses I have received from the British Methodist Church in theology college (aka seminary) and preachers’ training, I was always, always warned never to preach antisemitism and that when Jesus criticised ‘the Jews’ that he was doing it from ‘inside the family’ (e.g. to mean ‘those in power in the Temple) and that there was no excuse whatsoever to interpret these texts in an antisemitic manner.

Asking what a British Methodist believes is like me asking you what a Jew believes about whether or not there will ever be a Messiah. You’d probably ask me ‘What sorts of Jew are you talking about’. The British Methodist Church also has a long history from the beginning of anti-establishment behaviour. If Conference ever commanded belief in antisemitism - which it really doesn’t have the power to do - that very action would probably guarantee that the vast majority of British Methodists went out of their way to be semit0-philic.

I’m not sure if that helps, but the reason that you don’t know is because we don’t know. Try asking 300,000 people what they think about the current Prime Minister and you’ll get a range of different answers.

52

PamBG 07.24.11 at 8:08 pm

Another context-setting comment. Given with the caveat that I think I have the least experience with British Methodism as a denomination than anyone else here (approximately 10 years). Although maybe that gives me some perspective.

As a broad-brush comment - where there will obviously be individual exceptions - most of the current higher echelons of British Methodism are inhabited by folk with theology that is moderate-to-liberal. This is probably in contradistinction to a lot of the laity locally who tend to be more moderate to moderate-to-conservative (you really don’t get too many ultra conservatives in British Methodism, I suspect because we are not black-and-white enough for such types). I think this is framework also changing as the moderate-to-moderate/conservative baby-boomers creep their way into seniority.

It occurred to me the other day whether one of the big misunderstandings over Nicola’s comment about modern day Israel not being the same as Israel in the bible arises from presuppositions that come from theological stances.

I’ve never been able to understand why so many people understood that as an antisemitic comment. That’s because my presupposition was that Nicola is a moderate and she meant something like “Just as modern day Italy is not the same as ancient Rome and modern day Germany is not the same as the principalities of the middle ages, neither is modern day Israel the same as the ancient State of Israel. ”

As a theological liberal, I (and here I speak only personally) see the texts that bless the ejection of the Canaanites from the promised land as ex-post-facto rationalisation stemming from the belief in almost all ancient civilisations that nothing ever happened that was not the will of God or of the gods. If the The People were able to take over the land, it had to have been because God was on their side and against their enemies.

But in terms of modern practice, I don’t hold the theology that all wars and disputes only ever turn out the way that God wants them to. I don’t believe that there is a Divine, biblical or moral mandate for some mythical People to occupy “the promised land”. I hold that there has been dispute over the land for 5 or more millenia and that this is a messy situation and I pray for some satisfactory solution to peaceful co-existence. I believe that the religious obligations here are to moral and ethical action on the part of all parties.

I expect (I could be wrong) that Nicola meant something similar. I don’t believe she meant “There exists, somewhere, a God-blessed People who are destined to take over the promised land and the current state of Israel is not it but rather Christians have taken over the mantle of God’s chosen people.”

53

Ric 07.24.11 at 8:13 pm

How about trying for a definition of what exactly constitutes antisemitism?

54

Avraham Reiss 07.24.11 at 8:15 pm

Pam,
Thank you for the time you took to give that enlightening explanation! It certainly helps to understand more about the people I converse with.

55

Avraham Reiss 07.24.11 at 8:19 pm

Ric,
“How about trying for a definition of what exactly constitutes antisemitism?”

In my humble opinion this would be a waste of time, since it’s been done by the European Commission, or some similar body.

56

Avraham Reiss 07.24.11 at 8:35 pm

Pam,
“I don’t believe that there is a Divine, biblical or moral mandate for some mythical People to occupy “the promised land”. ”

How would you explain Ezekiel Chapter 36? My philosophy says that it talks about what is happening here (Israel), now; that the 1st sign of the Jews returning to the Land after the long exile would be agricultural development (verses 8-13). Which is what happened. A hill south of Jerusalem (Giloh) that at the time of the 6 Day war was totally barren, now houses 30,000-40,000 people. Similar to the north of Jerusalem. Ezekiel 36,10: “And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded”

In Judaism there is a definate, biblical, legal mandate for Jews to live in the Land of Israel. There might be something of the mythical about us, but believe me we are flesh and blood! (Ok, so I won’t quote Shylock …)

57

Ric 07.24.11 at 9:01 pm

Avraham, that’s the problem! Many people refuse to accept the EUMC definition of antisemitism. The Universities and Colleges Union has gone on record as rejecting it. And it’s dollars to donuts that good’ol Kim won’t have it.

58

Avraham Reiss 07.24.11 at 9:34 pm

Ric,I can understand the rejections; European anti-Semitism has been breeding for two millenia; it’s in peoples’ DNA, Theology, social life (Golf Clubs, etc), some places of work, etc etc ad nauseum.

Personally, I believe that Jews belong in Israel, rendering the whole matter purely academic. But then again, the expert on anti-Semitism I quoted earlier, Anthony Julius, wrote that anti-Israeli expressions are the new anti-Semitism.

When you can look an anti-Semite in the eye and watch him blink, as I can, its a whole new outlook.

59

PamBG 07.24.11 at 10:35 pm

Thank you for the time you took to give that enlightening explanation! It certainly helps to understand more about the people I converse with.

I’m really glad it helped. It did suddenly only occur to me (duh! on my part) that there is really no reason you would necessarily know that we don’t expect every individual to believe the same things and that we give significant personal freedom of discernment/conscience.

How would you explain Ezekiel Chapter 36? My philosophy says that it talks about what is happening here (Israel), now; that the 1st sign of the Jews returning to the Land after the long exile would be agricultural development (verses 8-13).

As a theological liberal, I don’t tend to read the biblical prophets as Nostradamuses who are predicting specific events hundreds or thousands of years into the future.

I read them as holy men who - in general - are in the business of proclaiming God’s faithfulness and holiness and of naming human sin and its consequences.

I’d read this as a text addressed to the narrative of the Babylonian exile proclaiming that God is faithful and will return The People to Jerusalem and the surrounding lands. And, I’d take it as read that the prevailing economy would be largely agrarian and that agriculture would be an important part of social and economic life.

As a theological liberal, I can’t think of any biblical text that I would use to declare that this or that people have the right to the promised land in this generation. I appreciate that you might very well disagree with me.

However the minimal good news to you is that whilst I’m not in the game of saying “Clearly the Jewish people have the exclusive right to the land”, I’m also not in the game of saying that God wants any other people to have the exclusive right to the land.

As I said, I think that the religious imperative here is for justice, peace and peaceful coexistence - for ‘Shalom’ in its fullest and widest definition.

As a theological liberal, I also believe that the theological decision making process that invokes God as being against any particular race or people is a dangerous process that mitigates against Godliness. It is all to easy to claim that God has demanded the death of infidels, Jews, Muslims or whomever. I believe that Scripture witnesses over and over that the highest ethical good is to render compassion to our neighbor as to ourself.

60

Kim 07.24.11 at 10:47 pm

Ric, I’ve just had a look at the EUMC definition, and a quick look at the Union’s rejection of it. Unless I’m missing something, you lose. When and how can I collect my winnings?

61

Ric 07.25.11 at 12:38 am

Kim, the EUMC definition of antisemitism lists, among other things:
‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.’
Replying to comments on your posting of a piece by James Alison (Pentecost and the Israel of God) you said:
“Of course, this “Israel” is the people of God, not the nation-state of Israel, which like any nation-state or religious community, insofar as it lives by exclusionary violence, stands under the judgement of God.”
By which you mean the judgement of Kim.
Thus you arrogate to yourself the right to define Israel and strangle the connection between the State of Israel and the authors of the work whose translation you call the Old Testament.
I think I keep my (metaphorical) dollar.

62

PamBG 07.25.11 at 2:19 am

So Ric, do you think that anyone who does not read the text of the bible in a “literal” way is automatically racist and antisemitic? That seems to be what you’re suggesting.

There seems to actually be a an inter-religious theological point of disagreement here.

As I said upthread, as a theological liberal, I don’t believe that God commanded anyone to inhabit this land to the exclusion of others. I don’t believe that God ordered the ancient people of Israel to drive out the Canaanites. I don’t believe any one people has an exclusionary right to this land. I believe it’s a complicated historical mess and the current task to is work out an acceptable method of co existence.

I also don’t believe that it is a feature of 21st century democratic nations that most governments are allowed to have unitary racial citizenship policies. (I think I probably need to state here that I’m not saying that Israel doesn’t have different nationalities as citizens. I’m simply saying that I believe the principle is being applied across the board in Western democracies.)

63

Israelinurse 07.25.11 at 7:34 am

Whilst no-one is claiming that the Methodist Church is inherently antisemitic, it is surely high time that, rather than attacking those who express reservations about the Methodist decision to join the BDS movement, Methodists engaged in a little self-examination in order to understand why people find that decision so offensive.

‘Friends of Sabeel UK’ numbers among its ranks several prominent Methodists, including the proposer of the BDS motion, Nicola Jones. Sabeel is an organisation which deals in replacement theology (aka supersessionism) which many (Jews and non-Jews alike) find highly offensive. Sabeel is also committed to a ‘one-state solution’ - ie the dissolution of Israel and several of its prominent figures have whitewashed and excused terrorism. I’m sure it doesn’t take too much imagination to understand why many find that offensive.

The seconder of the Methodist BDS motion is also chair of the York branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign - a Hamas-enabling and supporting organisation which also campaigns towards the destruction of the world’s only Jewish state and employs antisemitic rhetoric and actions in order to do so. The PSC also associates itself with people such as Stephen Sizer - known for his connections to Holocaust deniers and the Iranian regime - and antisemites such as Gilad Atzmon and others. Sizer and Ilan Pappe were speakers at the recent FOSUK conference in Oxford.

The BDS campaign is but one tactic employed by proponents of that section of Palestinian society which, like Hamas, seeks to erase Israel from the map. In lending support to the BDS movement, the Methodist Church also lends support and legitimacy to that aim - ie to the end of Jewish self-determination. That is most definitely antisemitic. It is also lending support to the exact opposite of the two-state solution under which two nations will live peacefully side by side.

Therefore, all cries of indignation regarding objections to the inherently antisemitic nature of the Methodist Church’s decision to join the BDS campaign ring exceptionally hollow. You are intelligent, educated people: did you not check out what lies behind the movement you have joined? If not, it is not too late to reverse your decision. If you did and joined it anyway, then please do not be surprised when people come to rather obvious conclusions regarding the motives behind that decision.

The vast majority of Methodists have clearly been taken for a ride on this issue by a handful of extremists exploiting the church for their own political ends. The non-racist Methodist majority has a responsibility to take back the reins and, if the church really does want to help solve the problems in the Middle East, to work towards a two-state solution rather than encouraging and supporting those who seek a ‘Greater Palestine’.

64

Kim 07.25.11 at 7:57 am

So, Ric, you’re trying to weasel your way out of a lost bet. Here is the salient statement in the EUMC definition you’re looking for:

However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.

You can keep your metaphorical dollar. I expect to be paid in real currency - or donuts. Or crullers. Yummy!

65

Richard 07.25.11 at 9:00 am

>> “Whilst no-one is claiming that the Methodist Church is inherently antisemitic … all cries of indignation regarding objections to the inherently antisemitic nature of the Methodist Church’s decision”

The first part isn’t true. Claims certainly have been made that the Methodist Church is inherently antisemitic. In any case, I find the 2 parts quote contradictory and think you should make your mind up. But why is this argument being resurrected?

I’ll have to leave it there: I’m unlikely to be near a computer for the rest of the day.

66

Kim 07.25.11 at 10:18 am

I will be near a computer. But I’m outta here too. The thread is the same old same old. Proverbs 20:3.

67

PamBG 07.25.11 at 11:09 am

Israelinurse, thanks for that comment in a measured tone.

Can you please point to some resources showing the replacement theology of Friends of Sabeel? Thanks.

68

Ric 07.25.11 at 11:32 am

Israelinurse, thank you for your excellent and very helpful comment! However, I don’t think we’re ever going to be able to get through to the Christian writers on this (or any other Christian) blog that the level of graciousness and trustfulness that they expect of us Jews just isn’t an option. There is a famous line from Robert Frost’s ‘The Death of the Hired Man’:
“Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.”
It continues:
“I should have called it
Something you somehow haven’t to deserve”
This is what Israel means to me. None but a tiny minority of nutters want Israel cleansed of Arabs. Everyone now living there has a right to continue to do so, in peace under the law of the land. But I shall never agree that anyone has a right to forbid Jews from going to live there.

69

Ric 07.25.11 at 12:28 pm

The Jerusalem Sabeel Document http://www.sabeel.org/documents/Jerusalem%20Sabeel%20Document.pdf
implicitly replaces the Jews as the inheritors of the Tanakh and Eretz Yisroel with the Palestinian Arabs, specifically the Palestinian Arab Christians. The vast majority of Jews will not accept this. Its ‘Political Background’ section (pp9-12) is a pack of lies.

70

PamBG 07.25.11 at 2:22 pm

What I’m, in fact, asking you is to make explicit, in so many frank words, how you see “replacement of the Jews as the inheritors of the Tanakh and Eretz Yisroel with the Palestinian Arabs, specifically the Palestinian Arab Christians.”

Because their information on the web explicitly states things like:
** “God has placed us Palestinians and Israelis on the land. We must share it and be good stewards of it”.
** “We acknowlege the sufferings and injustices committed against Jews by the West, especially those inflicted in the holocaust”.

So, I’m asking you to tell me what you see as implicit replacement theology, because I’m thinking that:
(a) You have information on the ground that suggests that this group is not acting consistently with it’s profession of sharing;
(b) You are interpreting this document in a far different way than I am;
(c) You simply have the gut instinct that they are lying;
(d) Your stance is, in fact, that any position that does not bless an exclusive Jewish state is unacceptable.

I’m beginning to think that, for a number of people here, the stances is, in fact, the last option.

And I have tried to be very moderate and gracious, Ric, in the face of you calling me misguided and uninformed. Perhaps your idea of graciousness is telling someone with a genuinely different view that it is simply their lack of intelligence that prevents them from agreeing with you?

71

Israelinurse 07.25.11 at 3:53 pm

Richard - I, at least, differentiate between the Church and its members and the decisions taken by the church and its members. Good people can make bad decisions.

Pam - I don’t know how many links it is possible to place here without a comment going into spam filter, but here goes….

“The Jews, whose prophetic tradition as well as their long history of suffering qualify them to play a peacemaking role, have acquired a new image since the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. By espousing the nationalistic tradition of Zionism, they have relegated to themselves the role of oppressors and war makers. By so doing they have voluntarily relinquished the role of the servant which for centuries they had claimed for themselves. This has been a revolutionary change from the long held belief that Jews have a vocation to suffering. Many rabbis had taught that Jews should accept suffering rather than inflict it as a means of changing the world. One of the great rabbinic dictums was “Be of the persecuted rather than that of the persecutors.” Sholem Asch cried, “God be thanked, that the nations have not given my people the opportunity to commit against others the crimes which have been committed against it.” This has been dramatically changed by the creation of the State of Israel.” (Naim Ateek)

http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DRIT=5&DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=625&PID=0&IID=5925&TTL=Updating_the_Ancient_Infrastructure_of_Christian_Contempt:_Sabeel

http://www.americanthinker.com/2006/03/the_antisemitism_of_the_presby.html

Lots of links about FOSUK in the body of this article:

http://cifwatch.com/2011/05/22/friends-of-sabeel-uk-promoting-bds-and-harming-interfaith-relations/

I would add that, as is often the case in the Middle East, it is worth searching out documents/speeches in the original Arabic. What is said in English to a Western audience does not always tally with what is being said at local level.

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PamBG 07.25.11 at 5:48 pm

Israelinurse:

I don’t read Arabic, so yes, it would be difficult for me to understand what those who speak Arabic are saying to each other.

I confess that I barely understand your “answer” because I suspect that you and I are coming from such completely different sets of presuppositions that we are talking past each other. I’m trying to hear your meaning but, at this stage, I think that would involve me actually guessing at your presuppositions. I don’t even feel I can make an informed guess.

As to the text you quote about, at least one of the participants here has stated such sentiments so I’m not sure what you’re asking me to believe about that. If hardly any Israeli would ever say such a thing, then I’ve heard it here and I have no other context in which to judge.

I understand that people say one thing to one set of people and another to another set of people. I’m willing to believe that people “on the ground” have more experience than I do. But so far, a lot of what I’ve heard sounds, on the one hand, like misinterpretation of Christian theology and, on the other hand, a straight-forward position of “Israel right or wrong”. I don’t actually mind someone taking the latter position but, for goodness sake, at least be honest that that’s what one is doing.

The one article said: “The conflict is all Israel’s fault; the Palestinians are innocent. Israelis sin; Palestinians make mistakes. Palestinian violence is justified; Israeli self-defense is not.” What I’ve heard here - almost universally - is “The conflict is all the Palestinians’ fault; Israel is innocent. Palestines sin; Israelis make mistakes - well, hardly ever, but very, very occasionally. Israeli violence is justified; Palestinian anger is entirely baseless and, without cause.”

Not to put too fine a point on it, Israel - with the help of my people in the US and UK - threw people out of their homes and lands and expected them to be peaceful and content with resettling. Not a single person here seems willing to own up to the fact that this might, just might, be problematic. My intent is not to be accusatory here, but morally the problem needs to be dealt with and even on a utilitarian basis, the stance that this should not be a problem is naive at best.

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Avraham Reiss 07.25.11 at 9:09 pm

Pam, you wrote in #62:
“As I said upthread, as a theological liberal, I don’t believe that God commanded anyone to inhabit this land to the exclusion of others. I don’t believe that God ordered the ancient people of Israel to drive out the Canaanites.”

How do you explain:
Numbers, 33:
51 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye are
passed over Jordan into the land of Canaan;
52 Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before
you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten
images, and quite pluck down all their high places:
53 And ye shall dispossess the inhabitants of the land, and dwell
therein: for I have given you the land to possess it.

I am well aware that you will have some kind of answer - I’d like to hear it, but more at the general level, since I have no doubt that you observe the OT commandments regarding murder, theft, adultery, and probably many more - how do you decide, on what basis, which OT commandments to observe and which are not applicable for you?

74

PamBG 07.26.11 at 12:05 am

Avraham,

The history of all peoples is written from their perspective. Imaging for a minute that the bible is literally true that the children of Israel arrived after the Caananites and threw them out of their land (I don’t actually think we can know that with any certainty), are you seriously going to argue that the conquering people were going to say “We didn’t something immoral and unethical” rather than “God commanded us to take this land from these people”?

Brief answer as to how I choose: St. Paul, rabbi trained by Gamaliel according to the New Testament writings, has extensive teachings on these things. The purity laws do not apply, the ethical laws do. The greatest commandment according to Jesus is “Love God and your neighbor as yourself”. “Your neighbor”, according to Jesus, is any other human being, not just your own kind. Nowhere in the New Testament is the issue of who has rights to the Holy Land addressed.

I think claiming that God told People I to throw People C out of their homes and to occupy their land is a morally and ethically problematic teaching. Christian Palestinians could claim this - as you and others are claiming we do. Muslim Palestinians could claim it - as I’m sure many do.

At a practical level, “God told us to destroy them” will only ever result in more war. At a practical level, endless retributive killings will only ever result in more war. At a practical level, actually believing that the other guy has a right to live is damn hard, but is probably the only practical shot there is at peace.

75

Israelinurse 07.26.11 at 8:02 am

Pam - obviously we come from completely different standpoints here and without prior establishment of mutually agreed facts, it is difficult to discuss their finer points.

I note, however, that you seem to base your viewpoint upon the premise that “Israel - with the help of my people in the US and UK - threw people out of their homes and lands and expected them to be peaceful and content with resettling.”

I presume that by “people” you mean Palestinians.
There are several factual inaccuracies in that statement which, if indeed it is the basis of your viewpoint need addressing.

First of all, Israel did not - as policy - throw people out of their lands and homes. Indeed in its declaration of Independence, (you can find it in English on the Knesset website) Israel asked the Arab population of Mandate Palestine to stay in their homes and join in creating a new country in the vacuum of post Mandate chaos. Many did, and they form the basis for the non-Jewish population in Israel today - 20% of the total citizens.

As for those who did leave, a small minority were indeed ‘thrown out’ but the vast majority left of their own accord - either because they were afraid or often because of instructions to do so from the leaders of the Arab forces which were attacking the newly born Israel at the time. Do not forget that there was a war raging: a war started by the Arab countries and their Palestinian supporters who, far from intending to establish a Palestinian state, wanted to split the land of Mandate Palestine between themselves - Egypt, Syria and Jordan especially. During wars - any war and every war - civilians get displaced.

You should also be aware that Israel has repeatedly offered to solve the Palestinian refugee problem - after ‘48 and ‘67 peace offers were made to the Arab countries, but were met with refusal (check out the 3 No’s of Khartoum). For 63 years the Arab nations used and abused the Palestinian refugees for their own political and strategical ends and are still doing so by keeping them - unlike any other refugees in the world - in a position of statelessness.

It is also important to be aware of precisely who the Palestinian refugees of 1948 were. In order to qualify for that status under UNRWA rules, a person had to be a) Arab (other ethnicities such as Jews who had lived for generations in the old city of Jerusalem before being ethnically cleansed from that area by the Jordanians did not qualify) and b) had to have lived in Mandate Palestine between 1946 - 1948.

Mandate Palestine had experienced something of an economic boom, largely due to the arrival there of Jews from the end of the 19th century onwards who began creating an economic infrastructure which did not previously exist due to the region being nothing more than a backwater of the Ottoman empire prior to the British takeover after WW1.

Many Arabs from surrounding countries made their way to Mandate Palestine as economic migrants and one can see that fact documented in British Mandate documents at the time (eg the Peel commission - available online) and in surnames such as ‘Al Masri’ which means ‘the Egyptian’. Even in Christian Arab communities such as Beit Sahour one finds families which originate in Syria but moved to Mandate Palestine because there was less chance of Muslim religious persecution there.

So you see the true situation is not quite as cut and dried as your above statement would imply, and of course there are many other complicating factors too such as the 800,000 Jews who were forced to leave their homes and property in Arab countries and found refuge as refugees in the new country of Israel. My mother in law’s family were literally chased out of Tripoli, Libya at knife-point and arrived here with nothing. Their property was confiscated by the Libyans and her mother’s grave in the ancient Jewish graveyard in Tripoli was concreted over. In fact, more Jews were expelled from Arab lands than Palestinians who left Israel and the sum total of the properties and lands left behind by those Jews far outweighs the homes and lands left behind by Palestinian refugees.

For 2,000 years Jews prayed three times a day to return to their ancient homeland. On the eve of Pessach every Jew in the world expresses a wish to be ‘next year in Jerusalem’. All the Jewish holidays are intimately connected to the agricultural cycle of Israel - so much so that you will find a Jew in frozen England in January celebrating a festival called Tu B’Shvat: the beginning of the blossoming of the almond trees in Israel.

To deny or downplay the Jewish connection to this land is both inaccurate and crass. To deny the Jewish need for self-determination after thousands of years of persecution, pogroms and discrimination which resulted in the biggest wake-up call of all - the Holocaust - even more so.

I do not live here because of any Biblical writings. I live here because it is the only place in the world where I could raise my children free from racial discrimination and as free people in their own land.

There is plenty of room and opportunity for both the Palestinians and the Israelis to live here side by side, but that will not happen until the Arab countries accept that Jews live in this part of the world and will continue to do so.

The BDS movement which your Church supports is part of a school of thought which believes that Jews should not have the right to live here as free citizens. At best it would make them second class citizens like they were in Arab lands before 1948. At worst, we are talking genocide and displacement (creating an unprecedented refugee problem) on a massive scale.

The question is, which side of the divide does the Methodist Church wish to be on? The side which is trying to create two states for two peoples or the side which is perpetuating the conflict by refusing to accept a Jewish presence in this part of the world? We are not going anywhere and no amount of boycotts, wars or terror attacks is going to change that. The Methodist and other churches would be better engaged in helping the Palestinians and their Arab and Muslim sponsors accept that.

The BDS resolution makes you war-makers rather than peace-makers: is that really the role the church wishes to take?

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Tony Buglass 07.26.11 at 1:13 pm

Israelinurse, what you say about the War of Independence is true - many Arabs left their homes not because the Israelis expelled them, but because the surrounding Arab nations urged hem to get out of the way until they destroyed the Jews. They failed to do so, but the refugees have proved a useful political tool ever since. However, as in most conflicts, the picture is somewhat messier than the histories suggest. There were atrocities done by both sides, some Arabs fled not because they were advised to but because they were afraid of he Israeli forces, and some were forced out of what had been family and ancestral property for many years or even generations.

The problem is, this is history. However it was done, by whom, whether or not it was wise or right, it has happened, and we must resolve the long-standing aftermath. And that is where last year’s Resolution comes in. Whatever the agenda of other groups, whatever the dubious friendships struck up by certain individuals, the Methodist Church does NOT wish to see the end of Israel. Avraham has said several times that he existence of he State of Israel is a problem for Christians - nonsense. Most of us have no problem at all, and indeed have been supporters and friends of Israel for many years. We want Israel to continue, secure and at peace. But we also want justice for for the Palestinians. And despite Avraham’s protestations, the settlements are illegal (as I understand it, according to treaties which Israel has signed), and therefore the call for a boycott of their produce is not unreasonable. Methodists also oppose the extremists who continue to attack Israel, and want nothing more than both communities to find a way of co-existing in peace.

So, accusing the Church of being ‘war-makers’ is not only unhelpful, it is simply mistaken.

77

Avraham Reiss 07.26.11 at 5:58 pm

Pam,
Israelinurse wrote above: “obviously we come from completely different standpoints here and without prior establishment of mutually agreed facts, it is difficult to discuss their finer points.”

I should have established mutually agreed facts before conversing with you. I made an assumption which you have amazed me by denying. I quoted the OT where it says “and G-d said”, and your response is “no he didn’t!” (#74 above).

[quote]
I think claiming that God told People I to throw People C out of their homes and to occupy their land is a morally and ethically problematic teaching.
[unquote]

I don’t see the problem; the reason / justification was given explicitly. The Caananites were totally evil and corrupt. This is unacceptable to G-d anywhere, but in the Holy Land even more so. Elsewhere the OT says:

Leviticus 18, 28 That the land spue not you out also, when ye defile it, as it spued out the nations that were before you.

Leviticus 20, 22 Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out.

In other words, the Israelites in the wilderness were forewarned that what was about to happen to their predecesors in the Land, could also happen to them - and it did!

[quote]
Christian Palestinians could claim this - as you and others are claiming we do. Muslim Palestinians could claim it - as I’m sure many do.
[unquote]
- what does “could claim” mean here? You can’t just make up claims from G-d. And the fact is that no other nation ever made such a claim.

But bottom line, I had always assumed that when the OT says “And G-d said”, Christians took that at face value. That is not what I hear from you

78

PamBG 07.26.11 at 6:25 pm

The problem is, this is history. However it was done, by whom, whether or not it was wise or right, it has happened, and we must resolve the long-standing aftermath.

Precisely. This saves me a lot of typing.

I should have established mutually agreed facts before conversing with you. I made an assumption which you have amazed me by denying.

Yes, I think that folk on both sides of the conversation here have done that and I, for one, am only just realizing that our assumptions are wildly different.

I quoted the OT where it says “and G-d said”, and your response is “no he didn’t!”

You asked me what my view and interpretation of Scripture was and I told you my opinion.

I had always assumed that when the OT says “And G-d said”, Christians took that at face value. That is not what I hear from you.

I know enough about people who practice Judaism today to know that not every denomination of Judaism believes that the commands in Scripture are direct from the mouth of God. I confess that I’m therefore totally confused as to why you would think that all Christians would think this.

It’s pretty standard in most mainstream Christian denominations to view Scripture as not narrating historical fact but rather as narrating what I’d call the meaning-history of the religious tradition.

Your assumption, however, sheds some light on the heat of this discussion. If you think we’ve been approaching this conversation with the assumption that God most certainly told a particular people to occupy the holy land and drive out all who were not like them and that we’re only arguing who those “particular people” are - Christians or Jews - then I can understand your anger. I’ve always come at this from the assumption that God did not mandate who gets the land, but that our religious tradition mandates ethical codes, that the history is a mess and I pray that it can someday be sorted out even as I understand how difficult and threatening doing that will be.

79

Avraham Reiss 07.26.11 at 7:05 pm

Pam,
thanks for the clarification. As for “anger”, I make every attempt not to display it; I’ve seen Internet discussions deteriate rapidly when emotion gets in - I don’t want to be responsible for that here.

“I know enough about people who practice Judaism today to know that not every denomination of Judaism believes that the commands in Scripture are direct from the mouth of God.”

That would be the Reform and Conservative branches; orthodox Jews like myself regard them as erring sheep who have wandered away from the flock. As opposed to Christians, I don’t involve myself in discussions with them.

“I confess that I’m therefore totally confused as to why you would think that all Christians would think this.”

- put it down to my lack of knowledge - in whose improvement you are assisting.

“It’s pretty standard in most mainstream Christian denominations to view Scripture as not narrating historical fact but rather as narrating what I’d call the meaning-history of the religious tradition.”

- which infers that the OT was - by this view - written by Man, which reduces the strength, force and obligation of any OT commandment. Adultery, for example, would not - by this view - be spiritually wrong, and whose acceptance or rejection would be a decision made separately by each and any society. (Eskimos are said to offer their wives as part of the hospitality towards visitors).

80

doug 07.26.11 at 7:20 pm

Avraham, is “speaking my language” regarding the proper view of Scripture. Him and I disagree with regard to our view of the NT. My answer to that would be “who knows about the future” but that is a side note and not part of the point of my reply. Scripture being looked at as historical fact is NOT mainstream and if it is that is why Christianity is being diminished and why more and more people don’t respect Christianity and its Christ. As Christians we must have what theologians call a “high view of Scripture” otherwise everything is relative and a diminished importance of Holiness to the Lord is diminished as well.

81

PamBG 07.26.11 at 8:27 pm

Avraham - How a person interprets scripture is probably a whole other discussion. However, I think we’ve got to some understanding here of our differences. At least I feel that I have understood your suspicion of me and other Christians here who have stated they don’t believe in replacement theology.

I grew up in a tradition that demands belief in the facticty of the bible, including its scientific facticity; I think I intellectually understand this this position but I don’t agree with it. My experience as a hospital chaplain working primarily in Intensive Care Units gives me absolutely no doubt that God does not need special revelation or conditions to speak to and through human beings. It is also that experience that has confirmed me in my previously-held opinion that God does not withhold divine presence, mercy or grace on the basis of race, religion gender or any other human-made categories. And if God ultimately wants to punish me for believing in the best, then I submit myself to God’s will and judgement.

82

Avraham Reiss 07.26.11 at 8:47 pm

“My experience as a hospital chaplain working primarily in Intensive Care Units gives me absolutely no doubt that God does not need special revelation or conditions to speak to and through human beings. ”

That is a tennet of Judaic faith. But that is today, and has been such for the last 2K years, since prophecy (and basic idol-worship) ceased. Until now we were discussing the authenticity of the Bible during the actual years of its creation.

Probably the most practical, day-to-day difference betwen Christianity and Judaism, is that Christianity appears (to me) to be a religion of the heart and mind, i.e. love and believe, whereas Judaism, in addition to love and believe, has hundreds of practical laws - with physical applications - that are applicable many parts of each day.

83

PamBG 07.26.11 at 9:14 pm

Probably the most practical, day-to-day difference betwen Christianity and Judaism, is that Christianity appears (to me) to be a religion of the heart and mind, i.e. love and believe, whereas Judaism, in addition to love and believe, has hundreds of practical laws - with physical applications - that are applicable many parts of each day.

I would not attempt to speak for Judaism or Judaisms. But, yes, I think that Christianity is a religion of the heart/spirit.

Loving the other guy is not at all easy. I know that and I understand that. You’ve suggested before that you think that I’m somehow naively idealistic or romantic or simplistic to believe in the process of loving one’s neighbour as oneself. All I can say is that, in actual fact, I don’t think I am.

I understand that forgiveness is difficult. I’m not going to condemn someone who has been genuinely hurt and who says “That guy has hurt me and I can’t forgive him”. But equally I’m not going to say, “OK, because I understand that it can be incredibly difficult for someone who has been radically hurt to forgive, I’m just going to go ahead and say that revenge is the highest good rather than forgiveness.” Maybe if I’m really honest, my bottom line isn’t even God. My bottom line is that I don’t believe revenge actually works to bring about peace. I have a long and strong family history of revenge-seeking and, as far as I can tell, it just leads the victim to tormenting themselves more than their victimizer did.

84

Avraham Reiss 07.26.11 at 10:20 pm

Pam,
“You’ve suggested before that you think that I’m somehow naively idealistic or romantic or simplistic to believe in the process of loving one’s neighbour as oneself. All I can say is that, in actual fact, I don’t think I am.”

I don’t remember saying that, and as I feel at the moment I don’t think that. My natural inclination is that if I see someone who believes in what you have written, and - most important - it works for him/her, then I’d think “keep on this way!”. If for no other reason, than it implies purity of heart and mind.

If I have a difference of opinion at all, it is on the issue of “turn the other cheek”. Jews had to do this - by force - for the last 2,000 years. That’s finished.

“My bottom line is that I don’t believe revenge actually works to bring about peace.”

My take on revenge is not that it is supposed to work for peace; its to inform the other guy that I’m no pushover, and that he should go try to strong-arm somebody else. And of course, that extends into the more abstract levels of replying to insults, etc.

Meaning that revenge is basically a survival, and not a peace-making ‘tool’.

85

Bob Gilston 07.26.11 at 11:16 pm

“Meaning that revenge is basically a survival, and not a peace-making ‘tool’”. I actually think that retaliation is a survival ‘tool’. Usually, retaliation is a quick knee jerk reaction in response to provocation. Revenge often is the result of planning on how to get even. In those circumstances there is an opportunity to reflect and decide whether revenge is the correct course of action.
I can understand retaliation, but revenge is more sinister.

86

PamBG 07.26.11 at 11:20 pm

Thanks, Avraham. I think we’ve gone pretty far on this and, at the moment, I don’t really know what else needs to be said. I’m glad we seem to have come to some sort of understanding, though. We don’t have to agree, of course.

87

Avraham Reiss 07.26.11 at 11:25 pm

Agreed! :-)

88

Avraham Reiss 07.26.11 at 11:28 pm

Bob,
“I can understand retaliation, but revenge is more sinister.”

It was the Godfather (quoting an old Italian proverb) who said “revenge is a dish that tastes best when cold …”

89

Israelinurse 07.26.11 at 11:57 pm

Tony Buglass - I’m afraid that you cannot, as we say in Hebrew, hold the stick at both ends. You cannot support and collaborate with a boycott resolution which is an integral part of a movement trying to destroy Israel but try to ‘get out of jail free’ by inserting your own clause to the effect that despite collaborating with that movement, your aims are different.

You can try of course, as you obviously are doing, but that is not going to convince anyone who knows what the boycott movement truly stands for.

The choice, of course, is yours: whether or not the Methodist Church continues to be dominated by a small group of people to whose extremist and often antisemitic connections you choose to turn a blind eye is an internal Methodist affair. But what you cannot do is to carry on down this route whilst making indignant protestations when other people, having examined your behaviour, reach the conclusion that there is more than a whiff of bigotry emanating from that chosen course of action. You cannot, in other words, demand that people outside the Methodist church stay silent or deprive them of their right to criticise your actions.

Let’s be honest, shall we? It is not as though the Methodist Church came to the 2010 decision with a clean slate, is it? The report compiled by the working party is totally one-sided and relies upon ‘evidence’ collected from highly partisan, dubious and in some cases antisemitic sources.
Even that is not much of a surprise to anyone who has been following events in recent years.

Why, even outside your own small town church in January 2009 a poster was displayed on the notice board declaring that ‘Israel commits war crimes’. That was long before any investigation into the events of Operation Cast Lead had taken place and of course totally ignored the real Hamas war crime of shooting thousands of rockets and mortars at Israeli civilians in the years prior to that much-needed military intervention.

And when your colleague just up the valley wrote in the local newspaper around Christmas time an odious article comparing Mary and Joseph to modern day Palestinians crossing Israeli checkpoints, he of course neglected to mention the reason those checkpoints are there and the thousand Israeli victims of suicide bombings during the second Intifada.

Glimpses such as these into the kind of one-sided rhetoric employed by members and employees of the Methodist Church make people like me think that the boycott resolution was simply seed cast upon fertile ground. That, again, is your choice; even bigoted free speech is your prerogative but at least be prepared to stand up and take the consequences of your choices and do not feign shock and indignation when people shine a light on your bias and bigotry.

90

Tony Buglass 07.27.11 at 12:02 am

“I quoted the OT where it says “and G-d said”, and your response is “no he didn’t!””

Well, possibly. This discussion (between liberal Christian and Orthodox Jew) is fitting nicely into the tram-lines of many conversations between fundamentalist and less conservative Christians. To reassure Doug, I do have a ‘high’ view of scripture - that has been one of the foundation stones of my 40 years or so of preaching, and still is. But I am historically critical of the Bible, and do not believe that it is the dictated word of God. There are so many places where historical evidence simply contradicts the text. The walls of Jericho were flattened long before Joshua ever came on the scene (Josh.6). Ai was never burned (Josh.8). There are points of contradiction within the texts, as well as with the archaeological evidence. Nevertheless, I do believe that God has spoken and does still speak through these texts, which are human in origin while divine in inspiration. Scriptural authority must take into account the understanding of the people who wrote the scriptures, or it becomes a useless and defensive dogma.

So, to say “scripture says” is not necessarily to say “God says..” Otherwise, God is a lousy scientist, a dodgy historian and a very poor archaeologist.

91

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 5:23 am

“Otherwise, God is a lousy scientist, a dodgy historian and a very poor archaeologist.”

Sorry - I don’t take part in conversations containing such statements.

92

Kim 07.27.11 at 8:49 am

Doug is a fundamentalist Christian. Avraham is a fundamentalist Jew. Perhaps Richard could arrange a dialogue between them as an August guest post. If he can find a fundamentalist Muslim willing to make it a trialogue — assuming, of course, that Doug and Avraham would share a platform with such a benighted other — that would be the best of all possible made-in-six-literal-days worlds. It would cetainly provide most of the rest of us with some great entertainment during the dog days.

93

Tony Buglass 07.27.11 at 9:18 am

“Sorry - I don’t take part in conversations containing such statements.”

Then let me make it a question - if it is true that ‘what scripture says’ is ‘what God says’, why does God say Joshua’s men burned Ai when the physical evidence shows categorically that Ai was never burned, and why does God say that Joshua’s people brought down the walls of Jericho when those walls were brought down long before Joshua’s time?

You seem to have ignored the rest of my comment - that I do hold a very high view of scripture, that I have been preaching on that basis for nearly 40 years, and expect to continue doing so for the rest of my life, because that is my calling from God. I did not write what I did to attack faith: I do not believe God to be “a lousy scientist, a dodgy historian and a very poor archaeologist” because I do not believe he ‘wrote’ the texts - but asserting that he did ‘write’ the texts leads inescapably to such conclusions. Simply refusing to address the case is no answer.

94

Tony Buglass 07.27.11 at 9:36 am

Israelinurse:
“It is not as though the Methodist Church came to the 2010 decision with a clean slate, is it? The report compiled by the working party is totally one-sided and relies upon ‘evidence’ collected from highly partisan, dubious and in some cases antisemitic sources.”

Well, that’s your opinion. Not everyone agrees with you.

“Why, even outside your own small town church in January 2009 a poster was displayed on the notice board declaring that ‘Israel commits war crimes’.”

I have no idea what you’re talking about. I am a circuit superintendent, in pastoral charge (in 2009) of 5 churches; none of them carried any such notice.

“And when your colleague just up the valley wrote in the local newspaper around Christmas time an odious article comparing Mary and Joseph to modern day Palestinians crossing Israeli checkpoints…”

Again, I have no idea what you’re talking about. I know of no such article. As to the Gaza attacks - I do know about the Hamas rocket attacks, about the years of provocation from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah and their allies; I do understand why Israel built the Wall. However, I also know that using white phosphorus on civilian areas is internationally agreed to be a war crime - and I saw WP shells exploding over the rooftops of Gaza before the TV commentators and pundits began discussing it.

You can argue it as much as you like. From what you say in your comments, you know little about the Methodist Church, and less about grassroots Methodist opinion. Most Methodists are very pro-Israel, for many reasons. But most Methodists are also very pro-justice, and react negatively to anything which looks like bullying - and the attacks on Gaza and the continuing blockade certainly look like overkill and bullying.

95

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 10:49 am

Tony,
“Then let me make it a question - if it is true that ‘what scripture says’ is ‘what God says’, why does God say Joshua’s men burned Ai when the physical evidence shows categorically that Ai was never burned, and why does God say that Joshua’s people brought down the walls of Jericho when those walls were brought down long before Joshua’s time?”

Practically everything Joshua did was miraculous. If G-d wanted to create a miracle and put a mountain in your back-garden overnight, and the next morning you invited geologists to examine it, they would swear that it was some 2 million years old. Because that is how it would have been created.

You don’t query miracles, they do not follow the laws of nature, often negate them.

How can you be sure that what archeologists found were the remains of Ai? Any “proof” would certainly not be strong enough to deny the accuracy of the Book of Joshua. Remember the oft-repeated axiom of American Law seen on crime shows: you can’t prove a negative.

“why does God say that Joshua’s people brought down the walls of Jericho when those walls were brought down long before Joshua’s time?”

- Who said so? Indiana Jones? On what basis do you make that claim? If Joshua said there were walls, why would he lie? And remember “you can fool all the people some of the time, some of the people all the time …” - there were hundreds of thousands of Isarelites present at the time, each one passing down to his children the truth of what he saw. The OT is an unbroken father-to-son chain lasting three thousand years so far.

In a nut-shell: per Judaism, science will never contradict the Torah.

“I do not believe he ‘wrote’ the texts…”

Regarding the 5 Books of Moses, the Pentateuch, Judaism believes that they were written by Moses, under Divine prophecy, i.e. as directed by G-d. I fail to see how that leads to your conclusions.

96

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 10:53 am

Tony,
“…and the attacks on Gaza and the continuing blockade certainly look like overkill and bullying …”

Maybe we can persuade the IDF to attach a Methodist Adviser to its Planning Division, who will advise how to treat terrorists with full decorum?

97

PamBG 07.27.11 at 11:13 am

Actually, I think if we kill Palestinian babies, we’ll nip the whole problem in the bud right from the beginning.

98

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 11:34 am

I’m out of here ..

99

Kim 07.27.11 at 11:46 am

I think, Tony, it’s going to take one of them thar miracles that “do not follow the laws of nature” (like Moses writing Deuteronomy 34:5-8 when he was dead) — one that makes knocking down a certain multi-mile wall made of concrete slabs up to 8 metres in height and 3 metres in width with your head seem a commonplace — to advance your conversation with Avraham. But if you insist on trying, please wear a helmet. Meanwhile, I’ll shoot off a prayer for you to Jude, the patron saint of lost causes.

PS: Please, however, stay away from Genesis 1 and 2. Even Jude can’t help you there.

100

Kim 07.27.11 at 11:54 am

I’m not sure why Avraham has suddenly disappeared. After all, God commanded the killing of Canaanite children and babies at the battle of Jericho (Joshua 6:21) which he (Avraham, not God) insists on reading not only literally but even ethically. What’s the problem?

101

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 11:58 am

Kim
“I think, Tony, it’s going to take one of them thar miracles that “do not follow the laws of nature” (like Moses writing Deuteronomy 34:5-8 when he was dead) ”

- If you believe in the prophecy of Christ, Moses should not be a problem for you.

Judaism has 2 opinions on the verses you quoted (in fact, the last 8 verses of Deuteronomy):
(1) Moses wrote the verses describing his death under prophecy,with tears in his eyes.
(2) Joshua wrote the last 8 verses of Deuteronomy.

102

Kim 07.27.11 at 12:02 pm

But why not just accept the miracle that Moses wrote Deuteronomy 34:5-8 when he was dead? Start seeking a more reasonable or naturalistic explanation, Avraham, and the next thing you know you’ll be a bleedin’ liberal!

103

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 12:05 pm

Kim,
“I’m not sure why Avraham has suddenly disappeared. After all, God commanded the killing of Canaanite children and babies at the battle of Jericho (Joshua 6:21) which he (Avraham, not God) insists on reading not only literally but even ethically. What’s the problem?”

The problem, Kim, is your understanding of the OT and Joshua. You miss entirely the moral justification for the Israelite conquest of the Land of Canaan. It is not possible to miss said justification by simple reading of the relevant chapters, unless you don’t want there to be justification, because it places you in a difficult position vis today, which I suspect is the case.

You scoff at OT miracles (#99), but I assume you believe NT stories about supplying many loaves of bread, walking on water etc.

104

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 12:09 pm

Kim,
“But why not just accept the miracle that Moses wrote Deuteronomy 34:5-8 when he was dead? ”

That’s one miracle (resurrection) copyrighted by Christ, and we don’t want to get sued.

105

Joseph W 07.27.11 at 12:57 pm

Haha!

106

Kim 07.27.11 at 1:39 pm

No, when Christ was dead he was really dead, and dead men don’t do anything. Nor, Avraham, would I call the resurrection a “miracle” in your sense of the word, as a violation of the laws of nature, partly because the Bible knows nothing of nature as a closed system of law, but above all because the resurrection is sui generis, in a different category altogether from the so-called miracles of Jesus, to be likened only to the creation of the universe ex nihilo (cf. Romans 4:17).

As for the “miracles” of Jesus, it is bad exegesis to lump them all together, rather we need to look at them one by one according to kind, context, biblical intertextuality, literary intent, etc. I have no doubt whatsoever that Jesus of Nazareth, divinely inspired, performed many quite extraordinary “acts of power” and “signs” (dynameis and semeia are the salient New Testament words). There is certainly no good reason to capitulate to the scientific plausibility structures of a post-Enlightenment world view, as some liberals do, and reject these events as mythological, or to interpret them as metaphorical. But then neither is there any good reason to accept them, as conservatives do, as violations of scientific laws. Theologians as early as Augustine insisted that “miracles” are not contrary to nature, they are contrary to “what is known of nature” (contra quam est nota natura). Thomas Aquinas developed this line of thinking using Aristotelian categories. And the trajectory continues in the thinking of many contemporary theologians who refuse to be caught between the barren alternatives of liberal dismissals and conservative credulousness.

But I’ve said enough. We’re going way off thread here…

107

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 1:48 pm

At least your last line was to the point.

108

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 1:50 pm

On both counts.

109

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 1:53 pm

“I have no doubt whatsoever that Jesus of Nazareth, divinely inspired, performed many quite extraordinary “acts of power” and “signs” ”

- but Joshua didn’t knock down the walls of Jericho …

110

Kim 07.27.11 at 3:35 pm

- but Joshua didn’t knock down the walls of Jericho …

You may be right.

111

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 4:09 pm

No, I was quoting you, relating to your biblical selectivity.

112

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 4:18 pm

Kim,

“the Bible knows nothing of nature as a closed system of law”

Disagree.

Genesis 8,
22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat,and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

At the time of the Romans in Israel, 2,000 years ago, Judaism knew from the Torah that the world is round, that when at one part is day another part is night, and knew of the Poles. (That is 1,400+ years before Colombus). It also knew that the air is full of tiny things invisible to the eye - germs.

The Bible and nature are in perfect sync.

113

Earl 07.27.11 at 5:07 pm

Earlier in this thread it was asked why I or others were not posting to this discussion. For my part, I decided to stand back and not jump into the middle of a furball. Much of the discussion has not been particularly helpful. Appreciate the comments of Israelinurse and Tony Buglass. Appreciate this last comment from Kim. The response fails to convince.

114

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 5:39 pm

fails to convince Earl.

115

doug 07.27.11 at 6:20 pm

While I’m accused of being “fundamentalist” I’m actually not when looking at the definition back in the 70’s which has changed till now but that is another discussion.

Avraham, your on a roll. I totally agree that the Bible and nature are in synch and I believe in miracles as well. However, I do believe that while God and His Word are infallible that man is fallible aka science as represneted in Avraham’s comments. That is not to diminish science and its scientists for they are important but on areas of discrediting Scripture they are fallible just like we all are.

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Kim 07.27.11 at 6:41 pm

and not jump into the middle of a furball.

Love the expression, Earl! And perfectly pitched.

117

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 7:05 pm

West Sussex County Times Wednesday July 27 2011
http://www.wscountytimes.co.uk/community/exclusive_woman_s_ordeal_at_the_hands_of_israeli_forces_1_2865353

[start quote]
EXCLUSIVE: Woman’s ordeal at the hands of Israeli forces

THIS is the exclusive first picture of the West Chiltington woman arrested and detained by Israeli forces for trying to visit Bethlehem in the West Bank.

Audrey Gray, 77 a retired nurse and current Methodist preacher, was one of 12 people detained after travelling to Israel aiming to stay at the Palestinian Aida refugee camp just north of the city.

She was travelling in a group of 25 people to Bethlehem via Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport.

Once detained the plucky pensioner reportedly went on hunger strike.

In a recent Methodist church newsletter she commented on her trip saying that ‘there will be others from around the world visiting at the same time going to other locations around Bethlehem.
[End quote - more at the above url]

This is disgustingly dishonest reporting.

This Methodist woman flew to Israel with others to take part in the failed anti-Israeli “flytilla” that was intended to support the equally-failed sea flotilla to Gaza, in support of the Hamas terrorist regime.

Read the Jewish Chronicle version at
http://www.thejc.com/blogs/marcus-dysch/israel-a-holiday-hell

So if this post can be headed ““Settlers are terrorising Palestinians”, there is equal room for a post headed “Methodists fly to Israel to support the Hamas Terror Regime”.

There is something sick about an old Methodist lady flying out to the Middle East to express support for a terror regime. What exactly did she hear in church?

Israelinurse has it right all the way.

118

Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 7:34 pm

I should add that further on in that report (which was actually published July 14th) I read:
“The group were arrested at the border on Friday July 8 and taken to Bir el-Sabah prison in southern Israel.”

Now I’ve been in Israel for more than 45 years, I’ve been around plenty, but I’ve never heard of an Israeli prison named “Bir el-Sabah”. All Israeli prisons have Hebrew names. So I Googled it, and found that “Bir-As-Sabah” is a suburb of the southern town Beer-Sheba (where Abraham once walked). There is in fact a prison outside Beer Sheba.

So the report published got its “facts” from Arab sources - and never bothered to request confirmation from Israel at all.

In point of fact, Israel prevented the flotilla from sailing, arrested one ship that tried, prevented more than 300 Hamas-supporters from boarding in Europe planes bound for Israel, and arrested a number of such who did actually arrive in Israel (using pre-obtained intelligence), including the old Methodist Hamas-supporter.

Which would appear to put the Methodist church on the Mossad’s radar. If you think you are being followed … maybe you are?

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Israelinurse 07.27.11 at 9:16 pm

This is the kind of company Ms. Gray the retired nurse and Methodist preacher chose to keep on her recent jaunt to the Middle East:

http://cifwatch.com/2011/07/10/guardian-airbrushes-extremist-links-of-british-flytilla-participants/

http://cifwatch.com/2011/07/11/the-flytilla-a-cameo-appearance-by-bigots-and-extremists-within-the-anti-israel-campaign-in-the-uk/

Unfortunately, Revd. Buglass, none of this has anything to do with ‘justice’ or being ‘pro-Israel’. It has everything to do with providing support and legitimacy to terrorist organisations and theocratic fascists who intimidate and persecute Christians, gays, women and other minorities.

As for your above protestations, a search in the archives of your local newspaper would clear up the second point. As for the first, well maybe it would be prudent to pay closer attention to what is posted on the notice board facing Market Street/Bridge Lanes because that poster - featuring no fewer than four blue Stars of David caused much anguish to the members of the very small Jewish community who did see it.

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Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 9:35 pm

Hamas, who throw major “offenders” off the top of high buildings, and shoot “minor” offenders in the knee-cap in the street, are happy to receive their Methodist supporters.

No doubt about it, the rot in the Methodist Church is far deeper than I’ve been led to believe here so far.

121

Tony Buglass 07.27.11 at 10:11 pm

“As for your above protestations, a search in the archives of your local newspaper would clear up the second point. As for the first, well maybe it would be prudent to pay closer attention to what is posted on the notice board facing Market Street/Bridge Lanes because that poster - featuring no fewer than four blue Stars of David caused much anguish to the members of the very small Jewish community who did see it.”

Well, I repeat what I said - I know of neither of the cases you mention. I will say that if there was a notice on my church notice-board which was causing offence, my phone number is there, and all anyone had to do was contact me and we’d discuss it. I don’t know of any of our church groups who would have posted it, and if it were flyposted, it would have been removed. Having said that, I repeat my former comment: Israel was firing WP at civilians. That is internationally recognised as a war crime. Criticising Israel for illegal actions is not antisemitism, but justice. Concerning the Mary-Joseph story, it sounds to me like an illustration to give the Christmas story some verisimilitude - they were living under occupation, and that is what it feels like going through checkpoints. I’m sorry of you find the comparison odious, but that’s not half as odious as the Palestinians find it.

122

Tony Buglass 07.27.11 at 10:26 pm

“In a nut-shell: per Judaism, science will never contradict the Torah.”

This isn’t about science versus religion. It’s about truth, evidence and facts. If the archeology of the ruined walls of Jericho indicate a date early in the 2nd millennium BC, and Joshua was there several centuries later, then he did not bring down those walls. The dating of the walls can be quite precisely done, through such techniques as analysis of pottery shards, dating through layers, carbon dating, etc. It is more likely that the great walls were brought down by an earthquake, that palisades or wood fences were erected by later inhabitants of the next generation, and it was those defences overwhelmed by Joshua’s forces. Later storytellers conflated the two, not being in a position to distinguish between the different layers of wreckage. As to Ai - it’s a very long time since I read the reports, but as I recall it was found by Kathleen Kenyon by following the biblical narrative, and excavated, but there was no layer of carbon and ash - which would certainly have been there had here been a fire.

These are facts, from which conclusions can be drawn. As far as I’m concerned, if something is true then it is true, whether or not it is convenient to my faith-position. All truth is God’s truth, whether derived from scripture or science. Where they conflict, it is important to check out the different claims - in my experience, the problem is not that scripture is wrong, but the faith-claims made of scripture are wrong - usually by fundamentalist or literalist interpreters.

“Regarding the 5 Books of Moses, the Pentateuch, Judaism believes that they were written by Moses, under Divine prophecy, i.e. as directed by G-d. ”

The Pentateuch shows every sign of being a composite work, produced by more than one hand over a period of centuries. I have no problem with the idea that the writers worked under inspiration, but I see no purpose in God imitating the style of different (future) hands and styles in order to fool modern biblical scholars into believing it wasn’t written by Moses. The evidence is that it was written by more than one hand, in more than one period.

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Avraham Reiss 07.27.11 at 10:27 pm

“I repeat my former comment: Israel was firing WP at civilians.”

Tony, If I were you I’d leave the Middle East alone and start dealing with the terrorist-supporters in your own church. You won’t get off the hook throwing about “facts” that are in doubt.

A Methodist PREACHER(!) (we can guess what she preaches) travels to the Middle East to support terrorists. THAT is your problem, NOT Gaza, about wich you know less than nothing.

“I will say that if there was a notice on my church notice-board which was causing offence, my phone number is there, and all anyone had to do was contact me and we’d discuss it.”

- I’m not sure of the facts here: if you are the pastor of the church in question, then you should accept responsibility for (amongst many other things) the contents of your notice-boards. Sitting around waiting, writing posts about Gaza till people come to complain to you about notices, is - to sy the least - passive leadership at its least.

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Tony Buglass 07.27.11 at 11:26 pm

“Tony, If I were you I’d leave the Middle East alone and start dealing with the terrorist-supporters in your own church. You won’t get off the hook throwing about “facts” that are in doubt.”

I watched live TV coverage. I saw WP shells bursting over Gaza. I know WP when I see it - I exclaimed to my wife “That’s phosphorus!” and half a minute later the commentator said the same thing. It was confirmed several times in the next couple of hours.

“I’m not sure of the facts here: if you are the pastor of the church in question, then you should accept responsibility for (amongst many other things) the contents of your notice-boards.”

No, you’re not. You know stuff-all about where I work, how many churches I have (apart from what I’ve already said) or my position within them. You clearly know little about Methodism, how it works, or the role of a circuit minister or superintendent. Indeed, given that I can probably identify any aircraft in the history of the Chel Ha’avir (albeit without knowing all the unit insignia) and probably the years in which they were used, together with a reasonable grasp of all the wars since 1948, I can probably claim to know a lot more about the Middle East than you can about Methodism.

“A Methodist PREACHER(!) (we can guess what she preaches) travels to the Middle East to support terrorists. THAT is your problem, NOT Gaza, about wich you know less than nothing.”

No, you can’t guess what she preaches. I have a friend who did spend time in Israel as an ecumenical accompanist: he has talked about his experiences, and what he saw of the problems faced by Palestinians, but that’s not what he preaches on Sundays. And while I do not claim to be an expert on the subject, and have no intentions of visiting, I know rather more about Gaza than you reckon. I had a friend (who died recently) who was a member of an organisation called Christian Friends of Israel. He fed me regular doses of their publications and emails, which were intended to put the (very) pro-Israel side of the story, including translations of Arab propaganda which never got into the mainstream Western press. I have also listened to the pro-Palestinians (interestingly, the last one I heard was in a United Reformed Church, and I did challenge some of her assertions as being rather unbalanced and unfair). I will call the shots as I see them, and I’m not in anybody’s pocket - I care a great deal for Israel, but I will not be silent when I see what appears to me to be injustice or (in the specific case we’re discussing) a war crime.

125

Kim 07.28.11 at 12:28 am

As for “anger”, I make every attempt not to display it; I’ve seen Internet discussions deteriate rapidly when emotion gets in - I don’t want to be responsible for that here.

Oops!

126

Avraham Reiss 07.28.11 at 5:22 am

Kim, that’s the difference between us: if I fire on you, you are supposed to turn the other cheek (in fact, you don’t), whereas I return fire, with no obligation whatsoever to make it “proportionate”.

And if your only reaction to reports of Methodist-supported terror is “oops”, then I think there is a problem here …

127

Israelinurse 07.28.11 at 8:20 am

No, Rev’d Buglass: Israel was NOT firing WP at civilians. Israel was using WP as a device to provide smoke cover for its soldiers on the ground, which is an approved and recognised manner of using that substance and something your own army - and every other military force in the Western world - does.

Now, there is something very interesting to be learned from that above reaction of yours, isn’t there? Firstly, I find it truly wonderful how every priest, journalist, shopkeeper, pub customer and professional politician in the UK suddenly became a munitions expert in December 2008/January 2009.

Let’s see what a REAL military expert says, shall we:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WssrKJ3Iqcw

Secondly, let’s look at your chain of reaction to this incident: YOU decide, quite independently of any concrete evidence and based purely upon something you saw on TV which, with all due respect, you do not have the expertise to analyse , that Israel has committed a war crime. You do not wait for investigations by qualified persons to take place. No, like the rest of the baying crowd you make your instant judgement and pass sentence. You then conveniently disassociate yourself from the consequences of that faulty chain of reaction: if identifiable Jews in your town get spat at and verbally abused it is nothing to do with you, is it? No such thing as ‘innocent until proven guilty’ for Israel as a country or for Jews as individuals.

This, unfortunately, is very typical of the type of treatment Israel receives on all fronts.
That the Palestinians find our checkpoints and our anti-terrorist fence ‘odious’ we all know and appreciate. I’m afraid that I personally find the sight of children blown to pieces inside a bus on their way home from school (and unlike yourself, I have actually seen and smelt these things in real time because of my profession) far more odious than even the longest inconvenient wait at any checkpoint. Until the second Intifada there were of course no checkpoints and no fence but, like the Palestinians themselves, you bleeding heart Methodists refuse to acknowledge that the Palestinians have any responsibility for their creation and existence.

Not only do you not look at situations objectively, not only do you jump to conclusions without facts and evidence, but you also selectively ignore and distort the truth (98% of WB Palestinians and 100% of Palestinians in Gaza do not live under ‘occupation’ - they have their own autonomous government(s) and could have had much more had they not -literally - blown up the Oslo process).

Criticism of Israel is, as you say, not automatically antisemitic. But what you and many other members of the Methodist church are engaged in is not criticism because criticism does take into account truth, facts and evidence. What you are engaged in is more akin to slander, libel and the character assassination of (only) the Jewish members of an entire nation.

At your conference in 2010, did you hear any sort of contrary view at all regarding the BDS issue? Did you ask any Israelis to come to put the case for the other side? Of course not! That would have upset your little show trial of Israel and may even have made church members reach the apparently undesirable conclusion that maybe there is more to it than your working party, with its reliance on ‘evidence’ from known bigots and antisemites, was letting on.

That has very nasty echoes of dark days gone by. Days which, given the complicity of the Church and the lead role it has often taken throughout its history in inciting anti-Jewish hatred, one would have thought should be scenarios which modern, enlightened Christians would be keen to avoid like the plague. Apparently not, but I do thank you for making that point crystal clear.

And by the way - that poster outside your church WAS removed after having been there for a whole day. Not by you or any of your congregation of compassionate, beautiful people of course, but by a member of the local Jewish community who, just as Israel does, saw fit to take action against the defamatory bullying, stereotyping and libel enabled by supporters of a proscribed terrorist organisation.

128

PamBG 07.28.11 at 9:42 am

Sockpuppets?

129

Kim 07.28.11 at 11:41 am

Man, Avraham is on a tear, isn’t he? A mission even. Connexions is littered with his roadkill: me, of course, Pam, Tony (he really warms to scholarly discussion, doesn’t he, Tony?), the Methodist Church with its cast of thousands. Jeez, he’s even had a go a Earl — Earl!! — for being a wuss. He’s certainly an equal oppotunities aggressor. Wait … I know … that link he gave to Glenn Beck — Glenn Beck!! — … yes, of course, how could I have missed it? Avraham IS Glenn Beck!!!

130

Avraham Reiss 07.28.11 at 1:03 pm

Kim has been scoffing his way through this particular post right from the start. Which means he had nothing of substance to contribute.

His latest uncultured reaction to the news that a Methodist Preacher was arrested for trying to support the Hamas terrorist organization is a puerile addition to the only two other comments made so far about the Methodist terror-supporter: “Oops!” and “Sockpuppet”.

And this in addition to Tony’s lying Hamas-propaganda accusations about Israel’s so-called use of WP, which was neatly exposed by Israelinurse. (Tony, I regard your so-called “archeological proofs” as reliable as your WP claims).

One would expect decent people to post and say “this woman is not representative of our church”. Nobody has seen fit to do so.

As Israelinurse exposed, the terror-supporting Methodist Preacher had earlier spent half a year living with so-called “palestinans” (there is no such people), so the church well knew what the lady was up to, where she was coming from, and where she was going. As a Methodist Preacher, what did she preach to others? One can well guess.

131

Tony Buglass 07.28.11 at 4:17 pm

“Israel was NOT firing WP at civilians. Israel was using WP as a device to provide smoke cover for its soldiers on the ground, which is an approved and recognised manner of using that substance and something your own army - and every other military force in the Western world - does.”

Very subtle distinction. There are other ways of providing smoke cover, and firing WP at an are where there are civilians is by definition firing it AT them. As to expertise and knowledge - I’m not a professional in these areas, just an educated amateur. I’m always glad to learn from the experts, of course.

“I’m afraid that I personally find the sight of children blown to pieces inside a bus on their way home from school”

Agreed. No question. I have never supported terrorism and mass murder, especially cowardly attacks on the most vulnerable.

“you bleeding heart Methodists refuse to acknowledge that the Palestinians have any responsibility for their creation and existence.”

Sez who? Personally, I wouldn’t say that “the Palestinians have some responsibility” but that “Palestinian extremists are the reason why the Wall was built.”

“At your conference in 2010, did you hear any sort of contrary view at all regarding the BDS issue? Did you ask any Israelis to come to put the case for the other side?”

Well, I wasn’t there - I haven’t been a rep to Conference for several years (too busy doing the job…), but perhaps if I’d been on that working party I would have asked for a contrary view. Whenever I’ve had to produce a paper or essay, I’ve always found it helpful to have 2 opposing points of view to work from. Yes, I do wish that Report had been done better, and I do regret the damage it has done to Jewish-Methodist relations. I suspect most Methodists would say that, even those who are more left-wing and pro-Palestinian than I am.

“That has very nasty echoes of dark days gone by.”

Yes, I know. The Church has behaved abominably to the Jewish people. The Shoah would probably have been impossible without the antisemitism of Luther and his medieval Catholic forebears. I cannot tell you how deeply I regret that history. But while I accept that it can be difficult for Jews to dissociate us from our forebears, I will not accept being placed alongside them: I do not stand against Israel of the Jews.

“And by the way - that poster outside your church WAS removed after having been there for a whole day. ”

Good. Although I do stand a little amazed that I am expected to be aware of a poster which was placed on ONE noticeboard of ONE of my FIVE charges, and was there for a whole day TWO years ago. I don’t live in Hebden Bridge. I don’t visit all of my buildings in any given week. You say it was January - well, I am usually heavily involved in taking Covenant services around my section, so it is not unusual for me not to go into Hebden Bridge chapel for a month at that time of year, apart from possible evening meetings. This sort of conversation reminds me of the usual question whenever I show a school group around a church: “Do you live here? Where do you sleep?” Sheesh…

Like Avraham, you clearly know very little about Methodism and how it works. However, if I had seen what seems to have been an unauthorised poster, I’d have taken it down myself. But I wasn’t there. So thank you to the Jewish friend who removed the scandal from our holy place.

132

Tony Buglass 07.28.11 at 4:20 pm

Of course, that should have read “I do not stand against Israel or the Jews.”

I blame the computer…

133

Avraham Reiss 07.28.11 at 5:51 pm

Kim,
It would appear that your motto is “if you can’t get the ball, get the man!”

How about relating to the fact that a Methodist Preacher was arrested for attempting to support a terrorist organization?

134

Avraham Reiss 07.28.11 at 5:54 pm

Tony,
Now that Israelinurse has exposed you, how about retracting your lies about Israel’s use of WP against civilians?

135

Tony Buglass 07.28.11 at 7:18 pm

Avraham, there is a post waiting in moderation. (Hence the comment about the typo…). Wait and see.

136

Avraham Reiss 07.28.11 at 7:34 pm

Tony,
I also have a post waiting in moderation. But a retraction of your Hamas WP propaganda is expected.

137

Tony Buglass 07.28.11 at 11:12 pm

” your lies about Israel’s use of WP against civilians”? “your Hamas WP propaganda”? You really accusing me of deliberate untruths? I do hope not. My answer is in the post waiting in moderation.

138

Ric 07.29.11 at 1:52 am

So nobody wants to try for a definition of antisemitism acceptable to all, then

139

Avraham Reiss 07.29.11 at 8:38 am

Tony,
you said:
“I repeat my former comment: Israel was firing WP at civilians.” In other words, you said it twice.

Israelinurse explained to you that only internationally-legal use was made of WP, for use as a smoke-screen. NO firing at civilians.

“You really accusing me of deliberate untruths? ”
Untruths? Certainly. Deliberate? Unprovable, but certainly very irresponsible.

Now, where’s the retraction and apology?

140

Avraham Reiss 07.29.11 at 8:43 am

Ric,
“So nobody wants to try for a definition of antisemitism acceptable to all, then”

Jews smell it from a mile away.

Anti-Semites like to cover it up under claims of “justice for all, “protecting the weak” and similar pontifications from the moral high-ground.

So who needs the definition? Thse who aren’t involved in it at all?

141

Tony Buglass 07.29.11 at 9:57 am

My response to Israelinurse is in the comment which is still waiting in moderation (and has been since yesterday afternoon - what about it, Richard?).

142

Tony Buglass 07.29.11 at 9:59 am

“Jews smell it from a mile away.
Anti-Semites like to cover it up under claims of “justice for all, “protecting the weak” and similar pontifications from the moral high-ground.”

Of course, the riposte would be that Jews reckon any criticism of Israel is by definition anti-Semitic. Both comments are unfair and caricature. I won’t stoop to it, and I’d rather you didn’t.

143

Richard 07.29.11 at 11:15 am

Best call it a day now chaps. My internet is flaky so i can’t say more.

144

Bob Gilston 07.29.11 at 8:30 pm

As you will all see from Richard’s Suilven post he is a very long way north in the magnificent Highlands of Scotland. I would think the last thing he will want to be doing right now is moderating this post!
Have a great holiday Richard

145

Kim 07.29.11 at 11:11 pm

Actually, Bob, like Elijah, he’s fleeing for his life to Horeb (see his photo of Suilven). Amidst all the fire and quaking around here, let’s hope he hears a still, small voice!

146

Avraham Reiss 07.30.11 at 10:36 pm

comment deleted by admin. see bob above

147

Bob Gilston 07.30.11 at 11:56 pm

I thought Richard had asked for closure because he can’t moderate from where he is in Scotland. Some posts cannot be seen and therefore IMO it would not be fair to allow partial discussion.

148

Tony Buglass 07.31.11 at 9:10 am

That’s how I understood it, too.

149

Bob Gilston 08.05.11 at 10:52 pm

Kim - I see we have the Elijah reading this Sunday. Quite relevant really.

150

Avraham Reiss 08.08.11 at 11:33 am

Richard’s holiday came at a very convenient time for the general population of his fine blog, for it saved them from having to face
unpleasant facts.

Tony refuses to withdraw his totally unsubstantiated charges that Israel fired WP on civilians, despite a detailed denial and
explanation by Israelinurse. Recalling my own infantry training in the IDF quite a few years ago, I remember that the only mention of
WP during weaponry lessons was for the purpose as described by Israelinurse.

Tony, your accusation was false, you should withdraw it.

Regarding the lady Methodist Preacher arrested in Israel for attempting to support the Hamas terror organisation, I asked people on this blog to denounce her actions. Nobody did.

The story so far:

I began posting here some months ago, together with a few others, regarding the Methodist Conference decision to selectively boycott Israeli goods under the false claim that the areas from which said goods were “palestinian”. I and others fully showed the falseness of this claim, to which the only “serious” reply was “we view history differently”.

My summary of my brief acquaintance with Methodists, is thus as follows.

The Methodist Church in the UK does not have a history of anti-Semitism. I base this statement on the total absence of mention of the Methodist Church in the recently published 800-page history of anti-Semitism in England, by Anthony Julius (the late Princess
Diana’s lawyer).

Today however, the Methodist Church is slowly entering the ugly world of those who hate Israel. Hatred of Israel is the new anti-
Semitism.

Boycotting Israeli produce, blanket refusal to denounce a Methodist Preacher-cum-Hamas terrorist supporter, this post headlined
one-sidedly “Settlers are terrorising Palestinians” - all these are sign-posts on the new path that the Methodist Church is now
walking.

None of this concerns Israel; the boycott never made its way into Israeli news anywhere, and won’t affect Israel’s economy in any way. The only losers are the boycotters, who miss out on the superb taste of chilled Israeli grapes on a hot day. The problem is an internal, moral problem of the Methodist Church.

I won’t say that I won’t write here again (of course, with Richard’s permission); following the terrorist incident the Methodists have placed themselves on Israel’s radar. But I will summarise by saying that I’ve met some interesting people here. I could well see myself finding a common language with Richard and Pam while serving on some Inter-Faith Charity or other committee.

I don’t have enough information to call Kim an anti-Semite, but it is clear to me that he doesn’t like Jews (unless his dislike is
limited to the new brand of Jew - the Israeli.)

I remember his substitution of the world “filth” for the original “spiritually unclean” into 2 OT texts. This is not intellectual honesty.

151

Kim 08.08.11 at 3:48 pm

I don’t have enough information to call Kim an anti-Semite, but it is clear to me that he doesn’t like Jews (unless his dislike is
limited to the new brand of Jew - the Israeli.)

I’m sorry you feel that way, Avraham. That you do feel that way can only come from a tendentious reading of my posts and comments (though without meaning to sound patronising, I understand your tendentiousness). Interestingly, only last week, in a sermon, I mentioned that one of the few things I miss about living where I grew up on Long Island, New York, compared to living here in Swansea (for almost thirty years), is a strong, visible Jewish presence and culture. However, the last thing I want to suggest is an insufferably insincere-sounding “some of my best friends were Jews” defence (which would also be false, because there have been far more Jews in my life than “some” — including my one-and-only high school sweetheart!), so I will just have to live with the way you see me. I don’t like it, but I’ll manage.

As for “the Israeli”, I confess to not knowing any in the flesh. I don’t exactly warm to you, but it’s got nothing to do with you being Jewish. Being a jerk, as I often think you are, is an Adamic, not Mosaic, category (cf. David Hallam).

BTW, do you know Howard Jacobson’s scintillating Booker Prize winning novel The Finkler Question (2010)? It raise all sorts of issues relating to Judaism, Jewishness, and Zionism - and the crucial distinctions to be drawn between them. It also raises the issue of anti-Semitism in quite deep, provocative, and sometimes counter-intuitive ways. For example, there is this ending to a conversation between a wise and engaging old Czech Jew named Libor and his friend and former pupil Julian (who is a philo-Semitic goy):

“… Julian, you’re an anti-Semite.”
“Me?”
“Don’t sound so astonished. You’re not alone. We’re all anti-Semites. We have no choice. You. Me. Everyone.”

Finally, as for my post “Biblical resources for a sexual ethic” (11/4/11), most of the regulars here took it for what it was, viz., a reductio ad absurdum send-up of the kind of conservative evangelical Christian ethical argumentation which deploys the Old Testament as a textbook for contemporary sexual morality. Indeed, without prompting, Richard attached a cartoon to the post! And it’s rather a “Duh” that my use of the word “filthy” was not an attempt at accurate translation in two of the Levitival texts cited but part of the piss-take, with its appeal to the visceral “yuk” factor which features so prominently in tabloid-traditionalist condemnations of a more “liberal” sexual ethics. That you could raise the question of “intellectual honesty” only goes to show that you have completely misread the genre of the post. But then misreading, and reading into posts and comments malice and odious views that just aren’t there, seem to be your stock and trade. So why even repeat that there are no frequent flyers at Connexions who are apologists for terrorism, let alone who support terrorism, or who deny the right of Israel to a safe and secure existence, etc., etc.?

But I must be nuts. This is the first day of my holidays! What am I doing playing Sisyphus? So I’ll sign off — but not before wishing you and yours the blessings of your God and mine, including health and peace.

152

doug 08.08.11 at 4:55 pm

Kim, the “Sexual ethic” is not solely from the Old Testament but also the New Testament. What is facinating is that people look solely at the OT for a sexual ethic when one can look at 1 Cor 6, Romans 1 and many of the other passages on sexual ethics that confirm what the OT says on the subject. I guess Kim forgot to look at ALL of the biblical resources when addressing biblical ethics. Maybe that is why his view on sexual ethics is less than biblical by the very nature of not looking at all of the resources in Scripture?

153

Ric 08.08.11 at 11:22 pm

I’m delighted that Kim has read Howard jacobson’s ‘The Finkler Question’. It portrays so many different types of British Jews - all contradictory, all authentic - that I would recommend it to any non-Jew who wants to know what Jews are like. At the end of chapter 6 Finkler speaks from my heart to all who style themselves ‘critical friends’ of Israel:
“How dare you, a non-Jew - and I have to say it impresses me not at all that you grew up in awe of Jewish ethics, if anything your telling me so chills me - how dare you even think you can tell Jews what sort of country they may live in, when it is you, a European Gentile, who made a separate country for Jews a necessity?
“By what twisted sophistication of argument do you harry people with violence off your land and then think yourself entitled to make high-minded stipulations as to where they may go now you are rid of them and how they may provide for their future welfare?………..Only from a world from which Jews believe they have nothing to fear will they consent to learn lessons in humanity. Until then, the Jewish state’s offer of safety to Jews the world over - yes, Jews first - while it might not be equitable cannot sanely be construed as racist…….[by you who] present yourself as a bleeding-heart, conscience-pricked representative of the very Gentile world from which Jews, through no fault of their own, have been fleeing for centuries…”

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doug 08.09.11 at 9:39 pm

It wasn’t “European Gentiles” who made a seperate country for Jews a necessity but God in the OT that made this very clear. No Gentile is stating how Israel should run its country but it is the US and Israeli allies that are supporting Israel to rightly govern ethically and with the deomcracy that Israeli’s support not reject. I agree it is not racist for Israel to promote safety to the Jews first. They are a soverign, democratic nation. As you can see this segment of the book does not impress and misrepresents Israel as a nation and misrepresents the Jewish people ovcer its history.

155

Avraham Reiss 08.12.11 at 10:22 am

Richard, did I miss something?

I can’t find on your blog a headline pointing to the gangs that are terrorising England …

156

Kim 08.12.11 at 11:11 pm

Probably, Avraham, because Richard is on holiday. But in any case, I suspect, because Richard is not the moronic Glenn Beck you admire so much, and does not go in for tabloid posts that do nothing more than state the bleedin’ obvious, viz. condemning the rioting, mayhem, looting, and murder, calling for the apprehension of the organisers and perpetrators, etc., etc.

That is, Richard might want do more than just thunder, bluster, and berate — the cultural equivalent of hellfire-and-brimstone preaching. He might actually want to do something intelligent, constructive, and helpful. He might want to reflect on what these terrible events tell us about the kind of society in which we live, with its thick consumerist and narcissistic values, the absence of any sense of the common good, the deployment of violence as the default position for solving problems, and the moral vacuum we have in the highest echelons of government and business, which set the table (as it were) for the nauseatingly violent food fights we have witnessed this week (a fish always rots froom the head down).

That’s my guess, anyway. If you want something different, you’re barking at the wrong blog.

157

Paul F. 08.13.11 at 2:30 am

“There is only one solution to this enigma: it is not that the US fundamentalists have changed, it is that Zionism itself has paradoxically come to adopt some antisemitic logic in its hatred of Jews who do not fully identify with the politics of the state of Israel. Their target, the figure of the Jew who doubts the Zionist project, is constructed in the same way as the European antisemites constructed the figures of the Jew – he is dangerous because he lives among us, but is not really one of us,” - Slavoj Žižek.

158

Avraham Reiss 08.13.11 at 6:24 pm

Kim,
Glenn Beck is moronic only in your opinion, I am not barking, and would be more than happy to hear Richard’s opinion on the matters detailed in your lengthy, penultimate paragraph.

It’s a pity that you can’t offer such an analysis.

Be happy when Richard gets back.

159

Avraham Reiss 08.13.11 at 9:32 pm

Kim,
“So why even repeat that there are no frequent flyers at Connexions who are apologists for terrorism, let alone who support terrorism, or who deny the right of Israel to a safe and secure existence, etc., etc.?

Nobody said there were.

But the fact remains that not one person condemned the activities of the terrorist-supporting Methodist Preacher. Note: Preacher; not just a believer, but one who influences others. In any school were this a teacher, she’d have been removed to say the least.

The silence shows where the until-now-not-anti-semitic Methodist Church, is slowly heading - or more accurately, being pulled by the nose.

160

PamBG 08.13.11 at 11:08 pm

I’ll tell you why I don’t condemn this preacher. Because I don’t know the facts of what happened and I don’t trust your interpretation. The information I saw on the internet says that they were observers of what was happening in Palestinian settlements. You say this is terrorist activity. It could be. Maybe it isn’t.

Absent any information that I consider objective, I neither condemn nor applaud. I absolutely do not consider you objective.

161

Avraham Reiss 08.14.11 at 6:20 pm

OK Pam, I’d probably say the same thing if it was my camp that was being ‘embarassed’. You are certainly entitled to request more facts.

As for objective - there is no such animal.

But I recommed that you take a look at the two cifwatch links in this thread, no. #119 above, posted by Israeli nurse. Difficult to refute.

162

PamBG 08.15.11 at 7:26 pm

A blog dedicated to ferreting out antisemitism makes an apparently strong verbal and visual case against a Welsh parliamentarian. But they didn’t really do a very good job of tearing apart this evil preacher, did they? I wonder why, if there is so much irrefutable evidence?

163

Avraham Reiss 08.15.11 at 9:47 pm

Pam,
the West Sussex County Times quotes the Methodist preacher as
saying:
“…In the past 20 years I have made seven pilgrimages to the region and lived on the West Bank for four and a half months in 2008…”

Don’t you find it a bit odd that an old lady would desert her calling of
preaching in her own country, neglect her own congregation, and go
spend much time - many times - in a country ridden with violence?

Pam, it really isn’t my problem, or the State of Israel’s, for whom the
Methodist Church (with no offense intended) is a negligable nonentity
regarding threats against the State. The Church will continue to be
observed, but that’s all.

It’s your problem, i.e. the Methodist Church’s problem. You (the
Church) has to decide if this behaviour is acceptable by its Preachers,
and whether to offer them its backing or not. If it’s done this so far I’d
be curious to see an official statement on the matter.

I’d summarise by repeating something I wrote some posts back in this
thread: the Methodist Church has no past history of anti-Semitism, but is now being pulled by the nose into what is now “fashionable” anti-Semitism which is expressed as anti-Israeli views and expressions.

The Methodist boycott decision, the one-sided, anti-Israeli title of this thread, the old lady Methodist Preacher supporting Hamas, these are three dots which when joined for a line that points in the direction
indicated by the previous paragraph.

I assume that Methodists have the power to move the Church’s direction back onto its original course. The question is: do they want to?

164

PamBG 08.15.11 at 10:27 pm

Don’t you find it a bit odd that an old lady would desert her calling of preaching in her own country, neglect her own congregation

Local preachers are lay people who are trained to preach. They don’t lead congregations and they don’t have pastoral care and they are not paid by the church. Like every individual created by God, they have a “calling”, but it’s not primarily a call to lead a congregation, otherwise one assumes that they would seek ordination.

So…

and go spend much time - many times - in a country ridden with violence?

….without knowing this woman, I find this no more odd than Local Preachers who have their own PR consultancies, run for political office, are teachers, nurses, social workers or have any other primary calling. I find it no more odd than Local Preachers who risk their lives going back and forth to Zimbabwe to help people in the face of very real personal danger.

And do you really expect me to believe that you’d be objecting so much if this woman had spent her time and energy traveling back and forth with the intent to support the state of Israel uncritically? I think not.

As I’ve said many times, I don’t know what the answers are here. I do know that it’s not as simple as you want us to believe. I understand your own impulse to defend yourself at any cost, but please don’t expect me to buy the black-and-white idea that you are trying to sell that Israel is entirely an innocent victim and Palestinians are entirely evil individuals with no cause to hate anyone except blind prejudice.

165

Ric 08.16.11 at 12:14 pm

Unfortunately most Britons prefer the doe-eyed, soft-spoken, subsistence-dwelling Arabs who would happily slit the throat of anyone who is not a blood relative to the strident, thrusting, impatient Israelis who would bring raised living standards through technological progress and equality under the law to anyone who is willing to accept them.

166

Kim 08.16.11 at 3:58 pm

Israeli - good; Arab - evil. Thanks for the Manichaean cultural analysis, Ric. And the Brits are suckers. All very helpful.

167

Ric 08.16.11 at 5:56 pm

Always happy to enlighten the heathen, Kim.

168

PamBG 08.16.11 at 6:14 pm

Glad you’ve finally admitted that that’s your perspective, Ric. Not that it wasn’t obvious.

Kim and I British? Yes, but not as you know it.

169

Kim 08.16.11 at 6:56 pm

Long embedded in British culture, Pam and I are self-loathing Americans, right, Pam? ;)

170

Tony Buglass 08.18.11 at 9:51 am

I decided to refrain from comment while Richard was on holiday, because it was difficult to carry on a conversation when the moderation process often held up comments - as happened with my comment 131 above. I have also been on holiday myself, and have just returned to my desk. So…

“Tony refuses to withdraw his totally unsubstantiated charges that Israel fired WP on civilians, despite a detailed denial and
explanation by Israelinurse. Recalling my own infantry training in the IDF quite a few years ago, I remember that the only mention of
WP during weaponry lessons was for the purpose as described by Israelinurse.
Tony, your accusation was false, you should withdraw it.”

I read Israelinurse’s explanation, and responded to it in 131, above. WP is not the only way of providing smoke cover. It is inescapable that firing WP into civilian areas for whatever purpose is by definition firing it at civilians. I do not see that my comments were false, and see no need to withdraw them or apologise for them. I accept that it has been a common terrorist tactic to fire from civilian areas, thus inviting return fire in a way which causes civilian casualties and thus provokes international outrage. Dirty tricks. By way of comparison, in recent campaigns in Iraq, Kosovo, and now Libya, RAF bombers have gone into action with orders not to drop bombs unless they are clear about their targets, so as not to inadvertently attack civilian areas - so a Tornado strike launched from the UK brought their bombs all the way back home, rather than risk bombing an unclear target. Would not a similar degree of restraint and caution have led to a different method of providing cover for the troops on the ground?

“Regarding the lady Methodist Preacher arrested in Israel for attempting to support the Hamas terror organisation, I asked people on this blog to denounce her actions. Nobody did.”

I have read various comments about his affair, and find it almost impossible to separate truth from spin. There was a letter in last week’s ‘Methodist Recorder’ from a different member of that party, who explained that they were simply and legitimately trying to visit a Palestinian community, and were arrested at the airport with no explanation, detained without explanation, and then deported. I have also read comments describing groups and movements which this preacher is supposed to be supporting, including one which seems by the description (spin?) given to be a sort of Syrian Nazi party. The implication was that the local preacher is pro-Nazi. The argument is laughable - if I criticise an Israeli policy, and a Syrian ‘Nazi’ group makes the same criticism, that makes me Nazi? I suggest a short course in logic…

The fact of the matter is that a group of Christians sought to make a legitimate visit to a community. They were prevented from doing so on the grounds that they were allegedly in support of a terrorist organisation. Hamas is (unless I have misunderstood the politics) the legitimately elected government in Gaza. It is difficult to express a pro-Palestinian opinion without at some point being in agreement with views expressed by Hamas. That does not mean agreement with terrorism - if any of the Methodists in that group were in support of terrorism, not only would I be very surprised, I would be one of the first seeking to launch a disciplinary process to have them removed from office. However, I do not see that to be the case, and nobody has yet been able to demonstrate it. Thus far it is no more than adding 1 and 1 and making 3.

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Avraham Reiss 08.18.11 at 12:10 pm

???

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