UK Charity BibleLands: “Arab Spring does not have to become a winter for the region’s Christians”

by Richard on July 25, 2012

Jeremy Moodey, CEO of BibleLands:

“It is a Western conceit that all Arab Christian communities are persecuted minorities and need our help to save them from Islamic fundamentalism. Most Middle East Christians are deeply embedded in their societies, with roots which pre-date even the rise of Islam. Indeed, they are closer to the Oriental origins of Christianity than many Western Christians. They have lived peacefully with their Muslim neighbours for centuries. The Arab Spring has led to a resurgence of Islamism, but it is not inevitable that this will lead to persecution of religious minorities. The overtures of the new Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt to the country’s Coptic community are evidence that the new pluralism could benefit not harm the region’s Christians.”

“In a sense, it suits us Western Christians to see our co-religionists in the Middle East as ‘victims’. In this way we can live out, vicariously, our own fears of Islamic fundamentalism. But this is not how Middle East Christians always see themselves. Their rootedness in their communities means that they have always been outwardfacing, expressing their faith and relating to their Muslim neighbours through social action. They are living examples of “salt and light”, in the very land where Jesus used these powerful metaphors, and we Christians in the West should encourage them in this ministry.”

BibleLands is a non-governmental, inter-denominational charity supporting humanitarian projects in the Middle East. For almost 160 years it has been working to improve the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged people, and it has extensive experience and expertise in this region. BibleLands supports over 50 partner organisations Egypt, Lebanon, Israel and Palestine which are Christian-led but who provide care for all those in need, regardless of faith or nationality.

{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Daphne Anson 07.25.12 at 2:03 pm

2

Richard 07.25.12 at 2:22 pm

limitstogrowth is a really credible source. Thank Daphne. I quote: “…there is no radical or moderate Islam; there is only Islam — a totalitarian ideology with religious trappings that seeks worldwide domination.”
That’s definitely a site I’d trust in future.

Not.

3

Kim 07.25.12 at 2:34 pm

It would be interesting to know if Daphne and others repudiate the italicised statement in #2. As intelligent, responsible, and peaceable people, I presume they do. If not, with such an ignorant and virulent Islamophobia, there really is no possibility of a reasoned discussion where Islam is in the mix.

4

Daphne Anson 07.25.12 at 3:11 pm

Moderate Islam is not the issue here. It’s the extremist Muslims who are persecuting the Copts, as well as the Christians in Gaza (who have marched in protest at their heinous treatment). After all, a Muslim journalist, Khaled Abu Toameh, reported the plight of the latter at extremist hands just the other day. I alerted you gentlemen to his report. But for some unaccountable reason neither of you seemed to deem it worthy of attention. Had the Israelis been the miscreants, however …

5

Richard 07.25.12 at 3:31 pm

>> Moderate Islam is not the issue here

In this case, you’re right. The issue here is the credibility of sources. And I question the credibility of a website which states such naked islamophobia on its front page.

6

Daphne Anson 07.25.12 at 6:21 pm

Are you implying that the Copts have not, in fact, been suffering?
And why do you condemn a site for “naked islamophobia” when you display no such qualms about a site that has stooped to naked antisemitism? http://mondotruth.tumblr.com/

7

Richard 07.25.12 at 9:42 pm

I’m not implying any such thing, Daphne. Human rights abuses have been going on in Egypt for years, even as Egypt was regarded as an ally of the West. What I’m saying as clearly as I can is that I don’t trust LTG as a source.

And I’m not at all convinced by that mondotruth tumblr. Not at all.

8

Daphne Anson 07.25.12 at 10:12 pm

May I ask why not?

9

Richard 07.25.12 at 10:49 pm

Errr… Because it isn’t convincing?

10

Daphne Anson 07.26.12 at 7:46 am

Those images and allegations that would do credit to La Libre Parole don’t convince you that it’s antisemitic?
Why not?
Why the double standards, Richard?
Why the zeal with which you highlight negative reports about the world’s only Jewish state?
Why the marked contrasting reluctance to condemn Islamic persecution of Christians?

11

Richard 07.26.12 at 8:24 am

I’m against the abuse of human rights, where ever they occur, by whoever. I have raised the rising abuse of Christians in the middle east. But you’re right, I’ve given much more attention to human rights abuses in Israel. Why? Well, amongst other reasons set out elsewhere, Israel/Palestine is the only situation I’m aware of where human rights abuses are justified by members of the christian church. If you think that’s a double standard, I believe I’ll have to live with that.

Those images and allegations don’t convince me because I recognize the technique used there as the same one you’re using against me on your blog. No doubt it makes you feel powerful. But there’s a fundamental dishonesty about it.

12

Daphne Anson 07.26.12 at 11:46 am

No, Richard, it does not make me feel powerful in the least. Why on earth should it make me feel powerful?
It makes me feel profoundly sad and deeply troubled that a man of the cloth should display such bewildering double standards.
You claim to recognise a technique, but you do not tell me what that technique is.
What is it?
Where is the “fundamental dishonesty”?

13

Richard 07.26.12 at 12:51 pm

I still don’t see the double standard you’re claiming to find. For reasons already stated.

The technique is to lift stuff from a website and present it as meaning one thing, when it’s author clearly meant something different. From your site, I’d pick out the “No Imperilled Gaza Christians Please, We’re Methodists” post as an example - presenting my questioning of CMEW as a worthwhile source as somehow evidence that I don’t care about the situation of Christians in the Middle East. I suppose I should be grateful that you give links here for what they’re worth — there’s no sign of anyone actually following them.
The mondotruth tumblr has made an artform of this. And I do believe it is dishonest.

14

Adam 07.26.12 at 2:02 pm

On Turkey being defined as a moderate manifestation of Islam:

“It is unacceptable for us to agree with such a definition. Turkey has never been a country to represent such a concept. Moreover, Islam cannot be classified as moderate or not”

Turkish PM Erdogan.

15

Adam 07.26.12 at 2:10 pm

Speaking at Kanal D TV’s Arena program, PM Erdogan commented on the term “moderate Islam”, often used in the West to describe AKP and said, ‘These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”

Source: Milliyet, Turkey, August 21, 2007

16

Richard 07.26.12 at 2:30 pm

We both know that context is everything, Adam. You’re not seriously suggesting that when the Prime Minister of Turkey says “Islam is Islam and that’s it” he means exactly the same as LTG? You think they both define Islam as “a totalitarian ideology with religious trappings that seeks worldwide domination”?

I’m surprised to see you here, only a few hours after writing on another website that I don’t debate in good faith, can’t be engaged with seriously, and a member of a morally degraded church to boot. Is that what passes for playful banter in your neck of the woods?

17

Daphne Anson 07.26.12 at 3:26 pm

If there are few or no people following my link, Richard, it’s no doubt because they’ve read the screenshots I provided. And those told them all they needed to know.

18

Richard 07.26.12 at 3:34 pm

Well, you’ve told them all they think they need to know. Not quite the same thing.

19

Daphne Anson 07.26.12 at 4:05 pm

You know, Richard, many Jews and other supporters of Israel don’t rate relations with the churches particularly highly. I’m sure that many of my readers fall into this category, and could not care less about what you and your fellow clerics have to say regarding Israel. Some regard the churches as marginal and marginalised - not surprising, perhaps, when we consider that your own church, like other churches that appear to be hijacked by people with a leftist political agenda, is losing members hand over fist. Some, recalling 2000 years of persecution and proselytising, don’t expect anything other than antipathy from the church towards Jews and Jewish causes, including the Jewish People’s miraculous restoration to their own Land.
I happen to be very interested in relations between Jews and Christians, and in Christian attitudes towards Israel. I’ve been a member of a Council of Christians and Jews. I know that in Britain, as in Australia and other English-speaking lands, there have been outstanding clerical supporters of Jews and Israel from across the sphere of Christendom. I also know that while some of these have proved steadfast in their support of Jews and Israel owing to an innate and genuine philosemitism born of an awareness of our shared historical tradition and an appreciation that our fortunes stand or fall together, others have professed love and support for Jews only so long as Jews have been perceived by them as victims. The latter attitude, needless to say, is no philosemitism at all.

20

Adam 07.26.12 at 5:55 pm

Richard, I am pointing out that Muslims themselves don’t tend to see their own faith in terms of “moderate” or “extremist”.

Are you seriously contending that Islamic scholars do not speak of the intention for Islam to dominate the world?

21

Adam 07.26.12 at 6:30 pm

Richard “I’m against the abuse of human rights” - except you don’t call for a boycott of any of these regimes. Only the Jews of Judea and Samaria.

Can you explain why?

22

Richard 07.26.12 at 6:55 pm

>> Richard, I am pointing out that Muslims themselves don’t tend to see their own faith in terms of “moderate” or “extremist”

Let’s backtrack a bit. Daphne offered a link from a website I hadn’t come across before. To evaluate the quality of the link I look at what else that website has to say and I find on its front page the provocative statement: “…there is no radical or moderate Islam; there is only Islam — a totalitarian ideology with religious trappings that seeks worldwide domination” That’s a very different from your entirely reasonable ‘Muslims themselves don’t tend to see their own faith in terms of “moderate” or “extremist”’. Of course there are Muslims who speak of dominating the world, but again, that isn’t what LTG said.

Daphne - if many of your readers don’t care what I say, why keep linking it? Incidentally, you use “leftist” as if it is some sort of insult. It’s a label I’m very happy to wear.

23

Richard 07.26.12 at 6:57 pm

*sigh*

Pay attention, Adam. I’ve answered that.

24

Daphne Anson 07.26.12 at 7:16 pm

Richard, here is a Christian site that I recommend to you. It is run, if I’m not mistaken, by a Maronite lady. On it you will find many eye-opening insights into the Islamic attitude towards Christians and Muslims in parts of the Middle East.

25

Daphne Anson 07.26.12 at 7:17 pm

I apologise - I meant Jews, not Muslims, in the final sentence.

26

Daphne Anson 07.26.12 at 7:19 pm

http://www.aina.org/
Oh dear!!! Obviously, I’m a lousy multi-tasker.

27

Adam 07.26.12 at 7:32 pm

sigh sigh

No you haven’t - you even admitted you didn’t.

28

Adam 07.26.12 at 7:35 pm

So we’ve established that Muslim clerics do speak of dominating the world (it is central to maintream theological discourse amongst Muslim scholars, and even cursory research would demonstrate that), whilst the terms “moderate” or “extremist” are not in common parlance amongst Islamic scholars when debating their faith.

So your objection is what? The use of the term “totalitarian”? The rest you concur with?

29

Richard 07.26.12 at 7:43 pm

When I said I hadn’t, I hadn’t.

Now that I have, as pointless an exercise as it will probably turn out to be, I say I have. Try to keep up.

As for the other comment, I give up. I’m going to walk my dogs and then watch Team GB in the olympic football.

30

Adam 07.26.12 at 8:29 pm

So “totalitarian” must have been it.

Remind me how many Islamic countries/societies are not totalitarian? You have 57 to choose from.

31

Adam 07.26.12 at 10:43 pm

Richard, I have found your explanation for your boycott choice; it was hard to spot, being so brief.

I would like to thank you for it , as it has been very illuminating. I am glad to learn that your choice of boycott has nothing to do with human rights, and everything to do with an inter church squabble. Your choice is not due to human rights violations per se, or their severity or scope; rather, because you disagree with other Christians about the Jewish state, you choose to boycott these Jews in order to make your point to your fellow religionists. Your choice is a result of what others think - not what is actually happening in this world.

So your “double standard” is nothing of the sort, as you aren’t judging these Jews by any impartial look at human rights - it simply means you have no standards.

32

Richard 07.26.12 at 11:18 pm

Peace be with you Adam.

33

Adam 07.27.12 at 10:08 am

And peace be to all people of goodwill.

But that’s not a response Richard.

34

Adam 07.27.12 at 10:09 am

Richard, running away from substantive arguments is simply running away from yourself.

35

Richard 07.27.12 at 11:03 am

Your goodwill appears to be somewhat lacking. I wish you peace anyway.

This is not running away. It is walking away having realised there’s nothing further to be gained. As I wrote when I reluctantly answered your question, “There are some questions that are so framed as to prevent reasonable conversation. You know in advance that any answer given will be dismissed by the questioner. In those circumstances, what is the point of answering?” You clearly haven’t bothered to read that response. You accuse me of censorship, despite the fact that your opinions have been well aired here. And you hint darkly on another blog about the reason behind my opinions, but are strangely coy about what that reason might be. I just wish you’d make your mind up. You’ve now made several comments since you told the world it wasn’t worth commenting here. Will you be telling everyone that you’ve changed your mind?

I try not to blow my own trumpet, though as a great man once said, “You might have told us that you’d got a trumpet.” So let me just say that when it comes to allowing others to have their say, I’d set my track-record on this blog against anyone’s. Comments are only rarely edited, even more rarely still edited without warning. And they are never edited to remove opinions which are simply contrary to mine. Never.

We’re done now.

36

Adam 07.27.12 at 5:38 pm

…whereas your “peace” in the form of boycotts defined by race and location is genuine. That’s why I said peace to people of goodwill - a virtue which, when it comes to Jews, you lack.

Richard, you know full well that you have censored several of my posts which were not abusive, nor did they employ foul language. You simply didn’t like them. But apparently, “framing” the question in such a way (i.e. one which exposed your hypocrisy and hatred, like “why are you boycotting the Jews of Judea and Samaria but not Hamas”) was all too much for you.

Having refused repeatedly to reply, your eventual, absurd “explanation”, such as it was, provided further elucidation that your boycott isn’t defined by human rights at all, but rather is a response to other Christians. Boycott those Jews - that’ll teach those Christians with whom you disagree a lesson! I don’t even think that was your reason, and I believe you went away to try to come up wit something to explain your hypocrisy and hatred. That was the best you could do. Oh, well.

Richard, you know what your reasoning is - one has to wonder at the motives of someone who makes excuses for people like Ben White or hate websites.

Meanwhile, the more you boycott and hate, the better the Jews are doing. Israel’s economy is thriving. So have your little boycott, but know that it is entirely academic, and that Jews know that when their backs are to the wall, people like you will never come forward to help.

So stuff your boycott. Hypocrite.

37

Richard 07.27.12 at 6:38 pm

Have it your way, Adam. Grace and peace be with you.

38

Adam 07.27.12 at 7:27 pm

…and to people of goodwill.

39

Richard 07.27.12 at 7:36 pm

To people of goodwill, yes. And to people of ill will. And all those in between.

40

Kim 07.27.12 at 10:27 pm

Nicely put, Richard. I don’t think anyone on this blog has ever filled so large a volume and left it so empty. Leave in peace, Adam.

41

Adam 07.27.12 at 11:08 pm

No Richard, I do not wish peace to people who wish for evil outcomes. There is nothing moral about wishing evildoers well.

I’m not going anywhere Kim - are you?

42

Adam 07.27.12 at 11:10 pm

Funny Richard, that you don’t wish Jewish people who live in Judea and Samaria well. Do you wish Hamas well?

43

Richard 07.27.12 at 11:29 pm

I do wish them well, Adam. But their Settlements are illegal.

A certain Jew named Jesus of Nazareth said “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” Another Jew (one Saul of Tarsus, who became his follower), wrote “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. … Do not repay anyone evil for evil.”

I’ll go with their advice.

I wish you well, Adam. But you haven’t gone out of your way to display any courtesy here. You treat this blog as if it is a public space in which you have rights. It isn’t. It’s my online home, into which I’m glad to welcome friends and strangers. But it is home, and I get to set the rules. It’s really up to you. If you can’t find some courtesy, you will be shown the door.

44

Kim 07.28.12 at 10:03 am

Save Adam from himself, Richard. He’s gotten well beyond self-embarrassment.

45

Adam 07.28.12 at 2:44 pm

Yes Richard, except if Jesus was born in Bethlehem today you’d label him a settler and stick a boycott on him.

Quoting Christian doctrine to me is irrelevant, I’m not a Christian. Turning the other cheek is not magnanimous or moral - indeed, it often serves to appease or tolerate sheer evil. Evil needs to be confronted and defeated, not accommodated.

By the way, the settlements are NOT illegal - see San Remo.

46

Ric 07.28.12 at 3:58 pm

Oh dear, this is all getting very depressing. I have always respected Richard Hall as an honourable opponent [edited to remove personal abuse], but the way you’ve tried to shut down Adam’s reasonable and pertinent queries does strike me as unfair. May I link to an excellent and relevant piece by a true friend of the Jews? http://www.oyvagoy.com/2012/07/27/turn-this-vile-claim-on-its-head/comment-page-1/#comment-330512

47

Richard 07.28.12 at 4:47 pm

Ric - I have in no way tried to shut down Adam’s contribution. Whether it is reasonable or pertinent is a matter of opinion. But every point that Adam has raised remains. I asked him not to keep repeating the same point over and over. He declined, so I exercised my right to edit the thread. My house, my rules. Considering the stuff he has written about me elsewhere, I reckon I’ve been pretty patient.

Adam - I know you’re not a Christian. But I am. You’ve misunderstood what turning the other cheek means. This might help you.
The Settlements not illegal? International opinion disagrees with you. But if you’re right, then (as Hannah Weisfeld pointed out in the Jewish Chronicle recently) Israel has a struggle to explain how it can grant citizenship to the 500 000 Israelis who live on the West Bank but deny it to the 2.5 million Palestinians who live there.

Now I know better than to expect an apology for the stuff you’ve said elsewhere, but you’ve used up all my goodwill. Your comments will now only appear if I believe they’re helpful to the debate. It’s your call.

48

Adam 07.28.12 at 6:01 pm

Richard, there is no such thing as “international opinion” - each country has its own policy, which it pursues usually in its own interests, and not through some point of high principle. For example, the UN has a Muslim bloc of 57 countries, all of whom vote against Israel, ALL of the time (whilst almost all of them are dictatorships, crackpot tyrannies and police states). What’s their “opinion” worth? Likewise, are we supposed to take the opinion of China (Tibet anyone?) seriously, or Russia (Chechen massacres and support for the butcher of Damascus, Assad), two members of the permamnent securoty council with veto powers?

It is lazy to simply state “international opinios says” - it is much more complex than that, and legality is not defined by such formulas. I urge you to read the text of the San Remo conference, which granted Jews the right to live anywhere in mandated Palestine.

By the way, do you regard the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus as “legal”? No country on earth does, except Turkey. Where is your boycott of Turkish settlers in northern Cyprus?

These are all substantive points, not previously raised, Richard.

49

Adam 07.28.12 at 6:02 pm

Apologies for typos - going too fast!

50

Richard 07.28.12 at 11:53 pm

You’re splitting hairs, Adam. “International opinion” is merely a short-hand. I’m very aware of the short-comings of decision making on the world stage. Nonetheless, on the legality of the Settlements. Israel says one thing. Everyone else says something different. But if the West Bank is not under occupation, why do its Palestinian residents not have the same citizenship and rights as the Israeli settlers? How is it possible to justify preventing people from access to their land so that they can harvest their crops? The bulldozing of their villages? The grubbing up of their olive groves?

Confess I haven’t thought about Israel/Palestine in parallel with Northern Cyprus. Certainly, that’s illegal.

51

Adam 07.29.12 at 12:54 am

Richard
You yourself said that an argument isn’t decided through weight of numbers. Look at the evidence. Have you looked at San Remo? Can you find anything from the UN which supercedes it?

It is racist to claim that Jews are not entitled to live someweher, purely because they are the wrong race. Yet that is official Palestinian policy. Abbas has made repeatedly clear that any territory given to the Palestinian Authority (note “given”, as this land was never Palestinian, either as part of a Palestinian state or private Arab ownership) would have to be Jew free. Just two days ago he reiterated that not one single Israeli will be allowed to remain. You ask how is it justified that Palestinians in Judea and Samariadon’t have the same rights? What rights are those, and where will you find such rights in any Arab country - including the territories administered by the Palestinians themselves, either in Judea and Samaria or Gaza? Yes, there are checkpoints. Your accusation that entire villages are bulldozed is utterly fallacious. Do you ever ask why these security measures are in place?

Let me put this in context - at any given moment, the Israelis are tracking dozens of terrorist plots. Over a 5 year period, there were around 12000 attempted terrorist acts against Israel foiled. The simple truth is when the roadblocks are removed, the violence escalates, and innocent Israelis are targeted for being Jews. Whenever Israel withdraws from territory (like Gaza) in order to bring peace closer and please Westerners like you are your organization, they suffer violent consequences (like thousands of rockets fired into Israel at school pick up time each day and cross border kidnappings and murders). So it’s all very well putting the cart before the horse and saying, if only Israel withdrew, closed the checkpoints, there would be peace, things would be better - but this flies in the face of the evidence. Why, instead, don’t you address the hatred Palestinian children are taught at PA (and UN - yes, you read that correctly) run schools ,in broadcast media (”blessed be he who puts a bullet in the head of a Jew”), in the press, and the hatred and incitement spouted by their leaders? THAT is the problem - and those checkpoints can only disappear once you address this - the real problem.

I’m glad you confess about northern Cyprus - I assume you will bring this up at your next meeting and instigate a boycott of Turkish produce from northern Cyprus?

Or Chinese produce from Tibet?

Or Russian produce from Chechnya?

Or Spanish from Ceuta?

Or Moroccan from the Western Sahara?

Or Ethiopian from Badme?

Why the selectivity?

52

Ric 07.29.12 at 1:12 am

Thinking about Israel/Palestine in parallel with Northern Cyprus might well generate more light and less heat. To open another perspective, may I share another link which, I think, makes some telling and relevant points? http://cifwatch.com/2012/07/28/on-tisha-bav-jewish-power-and-israels-mission-as-the-guardian-of-the-jews/

53

Richard 07.29.12 at 8:29 am

Adam, I’ve said my piece about the reason I support the boycott of the Settlements. You’ve had had your say. There isn’t any point in simply going round in circles.
I’ve never said “if only Israel withdrew, closed the checkpoints, there would be peace”. But the way Israel treats the Palestinians feeds their hatred and it simply isn’t possible to oppress people into peace. You say the West Bank belongs to Israel. So are you arguing for the Palestinians to be given full citizenship? I’m surprised at your denial about the bulldozing of villages. Only a few days ago 8 villages were ordered to be demolished. And have you never heard of Susya? Do Palestinians have the same access to electricity and water as the Settlers? (That’s a rhetorical question) And that’s not to mention the grubbing of trees on which people depend and the preventing of farmers from tending and harvesting their crops.

I’m sure we’ve gone as far with this as we can.

54

Daphne Anson 08.02.12 at 9:53 am

Coming back to the theme of the post, here’s something relevant, though the BBC headline makes it look like six of one and half a dozen of the other, which it is not.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19089474

55

Adam 08.14.12 at 3:54 pm

Richard, you support the boycott, by your own admission, because of an inter church squabble, and not because of human rights.

It is not a question of “oppressing” people into peace (and the Arab racist hatred of Jews predates Israel itself, let alone the so-called “occupation” (from whom is it occupied? I asked you that once before). It is a question of protecting your people from genocidal fascists who seek to kill you because of your ethnicity. If you don’t have any other suggestion for Israel in terms of protecting her citizens, then this is all bluster on your part.

You know Richard, I see you are well versed in hurling accusations against Israel, but when I mention any of these other conflicts, such as Turkish occupied Cyprus, you play dumb and claim ignorance. That is an example of intellectual dishonesty, for you will make no effort to explore further. As for demolitions, it may have escaped your notice that the IDF has bulldozed “illegal” Israeli settlements as well, and those which were not deemed “illegal”, like Gush Katif (on a far bigger scale that your citations).

I am reading a book about Dutch Christians who worked in the Resistance in the war, risking their lives (and their families) to save Jewish citizens through selfless acts of courage, bravery, and a unshakeable morality. What a contrast to the racist and hypocritical boycotters of the Methodist church.

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