Israel/Palestine: Methodist report attracts support

by Richard on July 5, 2010

Jews and Christians in the UK and Israel/Palestine have welcomed the Methodist Conference Report Justice for Palestine and Israel (pdf), which was “received” at the recent Conference and commended to the wider church for study.

The signatories, Christians and Jews from the UK and Palestine/Israel, offer their “wholehearted support” for the “humane and principled conclusions” of the Methodist working group, and criticise those who have “misrepresented and attacked” the report.

Supporters include Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Pax Christi, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions UK, Amos Trust, Friends of Sabeel UK, Holy Land Trust, and the Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People. A range of Jews and Christians from Palestine/Israel have signed, including Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, Ramzi Zananiri, Executive Director of Near East Council of Churches-Jerusalem, and Michael Warschawski from the Alternative Information Centre, Jerusalem.

The statement notes that as the illegality of Israeli settlements is a “consensus issue affirmed by the United Nations, the UK government, and countless NGOs like Amnesty International”, boycotting their produce is a “refusal to aid a gross breach of human rights and an obstacle to a just resolution”.

The signatories urge the Methodist Church to take “the opportunity to listen to the cry for solidarity of the Palestinian Church as expressed in the Kairos document and respond. A just peace for Palestine will mean peace and security for Israelis – now is a time for action.”

Ben White, Campaign coordinator for ‘A Just Peace for Palestine’, said: “This is a clear show of support from Jews and Christians who understand that a real peace for both peoples requires justice. It stands in stark contrast to the disingenuous threat that listening to the call of Christian Palestinians and upholding international law and human rights will damage ‘inter-faith relations’ – on the contrary, inter-faith dialogue is not facilitated by ignoring serious questions about injustice.”

[source]

The text of the joint statement and list of signatories is ‘below the fold’

We, the undersigned, are Christians and Jews who have invested our energies and hopes in working for a just peace in Palestine/Israel. We write to offer our wholehearted support for the ‘Justice for Palestine and Israel’ report being submitted to this year’s Methodist Conference.

Disappointingly, the working group’s humane and principled conclusions have been misrepresented and attacked by those who empty powerful terms like ‘coexistence’ and ‘reconciliation’ of their true meaning.

Coexistence is not advanced by the bulldozer’s blade as it demolishes Palestinian homes and uproots olive trees; nor is reconciliation furthered by segregation and a decades-long militarised regime of control. In opposing such injustices, the resolutions simply affirm international law.

The illegality of the settlements, for example, is a consensus issue affirmed by the United Nations, the UK government, and countless NGOs like Amnesty International; boycotting their produce is thus a refusal to aid a gross breach of human rights and an obstacle to a just resolution.

We do nothing to advance a just peace without being realistic about the structural imbalance between Israel and the dispossessed, stateless Palestinians. In 1963, Martin Luther King wrote that the greatest ‘stumbling block’ to freedom was the ‘moderate’ who preferred ‘a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice’.

The Methodist church has the opportunity to listen to the cry for solidarity of the Palestinian Church as expressed in the Kairos document and respond. A just peace for Palestine will mean peace and security for Israelis – now is a time for action.

Signed,

Nader Abu Amsha, Director, East Jerusalem YMCA Rehabilitation Programme and Beit Sahour YMCA
Nidal Abuzuluf, Program Manager, YMCA/YWCA Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI), Beit Sahour
Rev Alex Awad, Dean of Students, Bethlehem Bible College/Pastor, East Jerusalem Baptist Church
Bishara Awad, President, Bethlehem Bible College
Sami Awad, Executive Director, Holy Land Trust
Constantine S. Dabbagh, Executive Secretary, Near East Council of Churches Committee for Refugee Work, Gaza Area
Aaron Dover, Deborah Maccoby, Diana Neslen, Naomi Wayne, on behalf of Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Pat Gaffney, General Secretary, Pax Christi UK
Rev Ray Gaston, Inter Faith Enabler, Birmingham District Methodist Church
Abe Hayeem, RIBA, Architects and Planners for Justice in Palestine
Rev Canon Garth Hewitt, Canon of St George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem/Director, Amos Trust
Rifat Kassis, General coordinator, Kairos Palestine
Rami Kassis, Executive Director, Alternative Tourism Group - Study Centre, Beit Sahour
Jennifer Oldershaw, on behalf of Friends of Sabeel UK
The Palestinian Centre for Rapprochement between People, Beit Sahour
Pat Price-Tomes, on behalf of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) UK
Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, President, Diyar Consortium, Bethlehem
George S. Rishmawi, Coordinator, Siraj, Centre for Holy Land Studies, Palestine
Dr. Walid Shomaly, Executive Director, Palestinian Centre for Research & Cultural Dialogue (PCRD), Bethlehem
Michael Warschawski, Sergio Yahni, Avital Mozes, Tania Kepler, Yossi Bartal, Connie Hackbarth, Shir Hever, of the Alternative Information Centre, Jerusalem
Ben White, Campaign coordinator, ‘A Just Peace for Palestine’
Mr. Ramzi Zananiri, Executive Director, Near East Council of Churches-Jerusalem

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07.08.10 at 11:22 am

{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Josh Rowley 07.05.10 at 4:12 pm

Here in the U.S., the Presbyterian Church (USA)–the denomination of which I am a part–is considering a similar resolution right now at its General Assembly.

2

Joseph W 07.05.10 at 4:32 pm

I think you should really consider where this report came from and the people behind the document, and reassess some of their theological statements about Jewish people:
http://hurryupharry.org/2010/07/04/methodist-clerics-try-to-justify-israel-boycott/

It seems to me like this boycott is inspired principally by clerics with a theological conviction that God is angry with Jews for their “racist” perception of Him, whilst he is not so angry with any other nation.

It disturbs me particularly that books recommending Holocaust deniers are seeping their way into mainstream Christianity – all in the name of peace and justice.

3

Richard 07.05.10 at 4:56 pm

>> “It seems to me like this boycott is inspired principally by clerics with a theological conviction that God is angry with Jews for their “racist” perception of Him”

What can I say? I don’t know any ‘cleric’ in Methodism who holds that view, and that certainly isn’t what was said in the Conference report or the debate upon it.

4

Paul Martin 07.05.10 at 5:45 pm

For once I am proud to be a Methodist. I believe the settlements are an obstacle to peace and so am happy to boycott them. Likewise I am 100% opposed to military equipment going to any participant in the violence that degrades the region.

The report may not be perfect but I think it is committed to a just peace which takes equally seriously the aspirations of Israelis and palestinians, Jews, Muslims and Christians inhabiting the region. I call that gospel!

If a just peace is not found the world is a less safe place. Let’s unite against religiously disturbed psychopaths of any label who get in the way of peace. Anything else is a violence not just against humankind but against Christ!

5

methodist preacher 07.05.10 at 5:49 pm

We should place on record that not all British Methodists support this report.

My recent postings on http://www.methodistpreacher.com have brought several emails from Methodists who are very upset at the way in which the Church has been portrayed by its authors and the conference.

This is not the end of the matter and a far more robust internal debate will ensue over the next months and years.

6

Tony Buglass 07.05.10 at 7:14 pm

“It disturbs me particularly that books recommending Holocaust deniers are seeping their way into mainstream Christianity – all in the name of peace and justice.”

This isn’t about so-called Holocaust denial. That is just the sort of smokescreen which is used to hide the real issues. I deny neither the Holocaust nor Israel’s right to live as a nation in peace. I have been a friend of Israel since 1967, and as a friend I wish to speak honestly. Israel needs to hear again the voice of their own prophets, who called them to live in justice. There is very little justice in the way they have been treating the Palestinian people.

I know - Hamas and Hezbollah are bad guys, continually attacking and provoking Israel. That is true. But it doesn’t change the problems which Israel is causing by their disproportionate response.

7

Kim 07.05.10 at 8:34 pm

The insinuation that criticism of the state of Israel amounts to anti-Semitism (more accurately, anti-Jewishness or anti-Judaism) is scurrilous enough, but the allegation that “Holocaust deniers are seeping their way into mainstream Christianity” is so sensationalist, so duplicitous, so fraudulent and unfounded, as to be downright devilish. It is a tactic so extremist that it could be used only by someone who has not only lost the plot but also lost the argument (lying is the last resort of the posturer who has run out of reason). On the other hand, one may be forgiven for wondering whether Israel right-or-wrong chauvinists, if they are not Sabra and Shatila deniers, Lebanon and Gaza invasion deniers, wall and settlements deniers - nevertheless one may ask whether they are engaging in such political/ethical silence in the face of injustice, and air-brushing in the face of atrocity, so as to make Israel’s own prophets blush and howl.

8

Richard 07.05.10 at 11:19 pm

Paul - I agree completely. Yours was a good post today.

Tony & Kim - you’re absolutely right to invoke the prophets. Presumably Amos would be getting labelled anti-Semite now too.

David (Methodist Preacher) - ‘We’ (ie ‘you’) have already made it plain that not all Methodists support the report. It would be surprising if they did. I hope that churches and circuits take up the challenge and discuss it and make their conclusions known. But I must challenge the way that you’re representing the church over this issue. I know you pride yourself on being ‘controversial’, but you’ve gone way beyond that. First, you imply that some in the church are motivated by anti-semitism, but yet not having the courage to ‘name names’. And today I read “Methodists don’t tell people about Jesus any more. We just point fingers and parade our bigotry, that’s far easier”. If that’s truly what you think of Methodists, why on earth do you continue to be one? Your words and attitude are nothing less than shameful.

9

PamBG 07.06.10 at 1:09 am

It’s actually interesting to watch the video from Conference. The discussion isn’t nearly as imbalanced as David suggests and it most certainly isn’t one of knee-jerk anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

I’m of a mind to transcribe the discussion as that seems to be able to put a damper on the dogged determination to bear false witness against Methodism.

10

Kim 07.06.10 at 7:19 am

On this one David’s blog really has turned into a subsidiary of Fox News. “Fair and balanced”? David cites an article by Robin Shepherd in the Jerusalem Post on “The Banality of Methodist Evil”. The phrase “the banality of evil”, of course, comes from Hannah Arendt’s famous report on the Eichmann trial. On this snide insinuation, Methodists have moved beyond Holocaust denial to Holocaust complicity. Yes, clearly Methodists are Jew-haters - which at least explains why (according to David) “they don’t tell people about Jesus anymore.” David is blogging like a man possessed. Perhaps he is. I think we should put him on our exorcism list.

11

Methodist Preacher 07.06.10 at 10:23 am

Thanks Richard and Kim. I’m happy for you to qote from my postings but would you have the courtesy of providing a link so that your readers can make up their own mind?

http://methodistpreacher.blogspot.com/2010/07/as-others-see-us.html

Richard with respect you say “First, you imply that some in the church are motivated by anti-semitism, but yet not having the courage to ‘name names’.”

I have looked through all my posts on the subject and not once have I accused any Methodist of being anti-Semetic. I have, however, quoted Jewish and Israeli people who feel very hurt by what they have read and heard in recent days.

Jews have seen their people murdered by “Christians” for centuries, they listen carefully to our language and our nuances.

Having lived in one of the biggest Jewish communities outside of Israel ( I was actually born next door to a Talmud Torah). I understand this concern and think I know of the pain. When you go to school with children whose uncles, aunts, cousins and grandparents where gassed by “Christians” you tend to develop fairly strong feelings.

Over the years I have come to believe that Jews are better judges of what constitutes anti-Semitism than any Christian. For us it may be a matter of mere words, for Jews it is a matter of life and death.

Just for the record, in my 25 years of membership of the Methodist Church I have heard both racist and anti-Semitic remarks within the Church, though as far as I know those people no longer attend a Methodist place of worship, some are dead.

Finally British Methodism has never acknowledged nor apologised for the role of the British Methodist Minister who actively collaborated in the identification and transportation of Jews to the gas chambers. It was probably the most shameful act of any British clergyman in the 20th Century.

I raised this issue in the 1990s and was told by the Connexion it was far too “sensitive”. The Methodist Recorder, despite the exchange of several letters, refused to mention it.

The decision to blank out this issue was taken at the very highest level.

Until we do issue that apology British Methodism is in no position to complain when Jews question our choice of words and language.

12

Richard 07.06.10 at 10:57 am

David, I acknowledge your experience. I really do. But it doesn’t trump everyone else’s. I didn’t link the particular remark because, frankly, I think you’ve provided yourself with enough links recently, don’t you? You can’t claim that I was misrepresenting you, unless there’s some alternative meaning to your word that I’m missing. Do you stand by “Methodists don’t tell people about Jesus any more. We just point fingers and parade our bigotry, that’s far easier”?

As for “not once have I accused any Methodist of being anti-Semetic”, that was precisely my point. What you’ve done is implied, insinuated, that the Methodist Church has been motivated by anti-semitism. And that stinks.

The question of the ‘British Methodist minister’ represents a major shifting of the goalposts, nothing to do with the present debate. And I’m not complaining that Jews have questioned our words and language. I am complaining at your contribution to the public misunderstanding of what occurred at the Methodist Conference.

13

PamBG 07.06.10 at 11:19 am

I have so far transcribed Christine Elliot’s “report” to conference which I think is probably important in light of insinuations of Antisemitism. I add the text here. I won’t have a chance to transcribe more for awhile but I will do so as I think that the links actually provide us with a much more balanced picture.

Christine Elliot (CE): Thank you, Madame President and Members of Conference. I need to advise Conference of two aspects in relation to this report. Firstly, concerning the process by which this report has been prepared. And secondly concerning representations made to the Ex President Mr. David Gamble by senior representatives of the Jewish Community in the United Kingdom.

At Methodist Conference last year, notice of motion 226 set some terms by which a working group would be established in order to bring to this Conference an affirmation of the Methodist Church’s position on Israel/Palestine. In accordance with the notice of motion, the Secretary of Conference Martyn Atkins, oversaw the appointment of members to the working group. It was, of course, vital that the group incorporate within its membership a range of perspectives. The Chair, Graham Carter, was appointed and terms of reference for the work of the group was presented at the October Council.

I also want to draw your attention to the fact that the Conference asked for a Methodist report building on previous resolutions of Conference. It was not intended to be a wide consultation process of parties beyond the Methodist Church, although other perspectives were considered. The report only became a public document once the final report was published in Methodist Council minutes a couple of months ago.

We have received many supportive letters from around the world: from the World Council of Churches, sister Churches worldwide, and individual members of faith communities and from our own membership.

However, I need to make Conference aware that senior representatives of the British Jewish Community, including representatives from the Board of Deputies, the Office of the Chief Rabbi, the Jewish Leadership Council and Progressive Judaism have expressed profound concerns about the report. And their distress in relation to the damaging effect it could have on a balanced debate around the issue of Israel/Palestine and on Methodist/Jewish relations.

It is the Methodist Church’s desire to contribute positively to dialogue and understanding in which all views are heard and expressed. In relation to my role as Secretary for External Relationships, I have agreed therefore to communicate to Conference some aspects of their concerns.

They consider that the report presents an inaccurate and ultimately selective reading of the historical narrative and a perceived lack of balance. In their view, these shortcomings include, but are not limited to the misrepresentation of Jewish theological positions and of historical events. In their view, this includes for example, a failure to mention that the prayers of Jews for the realization of a homeland in Israel go back over millennia. There are concerns that an impression could be gained that this desire has as its origin the experience of the persecution in Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries. Further, they argue that the reason for the massive immigration of Jews from Arab states was the expulsion by a number of those Arab countries of their Jewish citizens. (Looking to the President: I still have a couple of paragraphs, are you willing to let me carry on?)

AT: Is Conference happy….(Conference: Yes.)

CE: The view was also expressed that while there is testimony to a suicide attack in the report there is insufficient attempt to explore the suffering or the aspirations of a broad range of Israelis. This, it was stated, is needed to provide a counterbalance to the rather extreme Israeli view chosen for another testimony.

In the agenda, the risk assessment of this report is categorized as “none”. Mindful of the objections that we have received, we might possibly wish to acknowledge that the task that Conference charged us with last year is not without risk. I would wish to offer reassurance that we greatly value positive relationships with our Jewish brothers and sisters. We believe that such relationships will continue to flourish even in the context of difficult conversations.

The Chief Rabbi has assured us his prayers. And we also wish to assure him of our prayers and all those who have made representation to us that we pray for them and for their good. Thank you.

14

Richard 07.06.10 at 12:21 pm

Thanks for taking the time to do that, Pam. As you say, it is important that these introductory remarks are properly heard.

15

Methodist Preacher 07.06.10 at 12:21 pm

Richard, is there a Methodist missionary in Israel who is telling people about Jesus?

Confirm that there is and I will withdraw that remark.

So the news that a Methodist Minster helped send Jews to the gas chamber is a “major shifting of the gaolposts” and “nothing to do with the present debate”.

In that case why did the British Methodist Conference hear, apparently without protest, the Holocaust dismissed as a “tool” of the Zionists? Why was the Holocaust so casually dismissed in three sentences by the recent report to Conference?

Your co-contributor Kim Fabricus -always ready with a handy quip - wrote “On this snide insinuation, Methodists have moved beyond Holocaust denial to Holocaust complicity”.

Little did Kim imagine that evidence has emerged that at least one British Methodist was complict in the Holocaust and that within the last twenty years British Methodism at the highest levels have chosen to ignore this fact. But this is “moving the goalposts”, as if this is some sort of confidence trick.

This is why I think it important that when Christians critise Israel we should do so with care and humility. Jews have experienced Christian anti-Semitism for centuries. Even in this country there have been massacres and expulsions. Over more recent centuries Jews have been systematically shut out of professions and suffered considerable discrimation. When right wing commentators complain of someone with a “North London accent” Jews know exactly who is being fingured.

I know Jews who are quite certain that inside every Christian there is an anti-Semite waiting to get out. I try to persuade them otherwise, but there is a history that we cannot make light of.

The theology of the Holocaust owes more to pre-Christian paganism than it does to Christianity but there is no doubt that when given the chance many Christians were active collaborators.

Even within our own Connexion - someone wearing the same dog collar as you and subject to the same discipline - was an enthusiastic collaborator once given the opportunity and permission.

When made aware of the situation less than 20 years ago, senior people in our Connexion, sought to close down the issue. No investigation because it was “sensitive”, and certainly no apology. Methodism does not seem to want to acknowledge the Holocaust.

The Holocaust was the conclusion of a process which began by people questioning the right of Jews to have the same place in civil society as others.

Our Methodist report comes close to asking the same basic question about the State of Israel. Does Israel actually have a right to exist if that right is based on the Abrhamic Covenant?

If our response to that question is to say that the State of Israel has no right to exist in its present form, then what will be the conclusion of that process? Is the implication that the immigration of Jews in recent centuries is illigitimate? And if so, should that be reversed and how?

Remember there are those who actually believe the State of Israel should be dismantled and its population removed. Many of them are armed and in the areas of the Palestine Authority right now. They are as close to many Israeli towns as Oswestry is to Wrexham where you now live.

We are in very difficult waters once we start saying that people have no right to live where they do. Transfers of populations and the unpicking of ethnic diversity has ALWAYS been accompanied by bloodshed. In some respects the Methodist Church report would have had more credibility had it not strayed into the whole issue of the Jews claim to a Covenant relationship with the land. It is clear from all the blogging and reports of the debate that this sensitivity is not understood.

Finally Richard, do you think the Methodist Church should issue an apology for the collaboation of one of its Ministers in the Holocaust? Given the silence when the Holocaust was dismissed as a Zionist “tool” it may help restore credibility, and demonstrate our integrity.

16

Richard 07.06.10 at 1:03 pm

>>“Richard, is there a Methodist missionary in Israel who is telling people about Jesus?”
I don’t know. But that isn’t what you said. I remind you that your comment did not refer to Methodists in Israel, but simply to Methodists.

The case of the minister you allege to have been involved in the holocaust is a moving of the goalposts because this is the first time it had been mentioned. (I say ‘allege’ only because I don’t know anything about this case, and a quick google search didn’t turn anything up) Raising it now looks like a further attempt to tar the Methodist Church with the anti-semitism brush, an utterly underhand tactic. (I’m not saying there is no anti-semitism to be found in the church, of course. There’s racism there too. And greed, envy, pride and a long list of other sins. It’s full of imperfect human beings)

I do understand why Jews would be twitchy about a report like this. As you say, there is a long history of persecution of Jews by Christians, a history which shames the church. The proper response to their apprehension is surely to continue to offer reassurance, by word and deed, that anti-semitism has no place in the Methodist Church and was not part of the motivation of the commissioning and writing of this report. Not to leap on the “Methodists are lighting the ovens again” bandwagon which some are trying to get rolling and with whom you appear happy to collude.

You further suggest that the Methodist Church has come close to questioning the basic right of Israel to exist. That’s utterly false, as you know. The present report was intended to build on previous conference statements in which the the right of Israel to live in peace have already been affirmed, an affirmation repeated in this present report. You seem to be implying that the Conference is ’speaking with a forked tongue’. Is that what you mean?

17

Kim 07.06.10 at 1:24 pm

Richard, is there a Methodist missionary in Israel who is telling people about Jesus?

Confirm that there is and I will withdraw that remark.

The last thing any Christian missionary should be doing is trying to covert Jews, especially in Israel. The utter chutzpah of such a ministry! Why? Precisely because of Christian complicity in the Holocaust, which is much too contemporary for us to be doing anything other at the present time, programatically, as a church, than acknowledging our genocidal guilt.

In a famous prison letter, Bonhoeffer wrote, anticipating the post-war years, that “we can be Christians today in only two ways, through prayer and in doing justice among human beings. All Christian thinking, talking and organizing must be born anew, out of that prayer and action.” With respect to the Jewish people at least, I think that proposal still applies. Though it also implies that, while eschewing missionary work in Israel, Christians work for justice in Israel, which includes critiquing Israeli governments that act unjustly, in violation of the Hebrew scriptures themselves which Christians share.

18

Richard 07.06.10 at 1:38 pm

Amen, Kim.

One further thought — As I’ve looked at some of the comments on posts David has been kind enough to link to (not on his blog, I hasten to add), I’m struck by how many of them are motivated by fear and/or hatred of Islam.

I’m just saying.

19

Methodist Preacher 07.06.10 at 3:16 pm

Patronizing comment removed. Richard is in a bad mood

You are right a “quick google search” will not bring up the information about the Methodist Minister who collaborated with the deportations. It was however widely reported at the time (pre-Google), making headlines on the television news bulletins of the day. However this was not reported in the Methodist Recorder.

In my correspondence with Central Hall at the time (regretfully I cannot lay my hands on my dusty file today) I did suggest that we had a full investigation to see whether the story had any substance or whether the man was acting in innocence. I felt it important that we understood how our faith stood up to testing times.

Were there any lessons which we could learn from this regrettable incident? Above all we should make a full and unreserved apology both to the Jewish community and the families of the people transported and murdered. I was surprised that the Connexion did not want to sort the issue out.

Response: Earlier you wrote “Even within our own Connexion - someone wearing the same dog collar as you and subject to the same discipline - was an enthusiastic collaborator once given the opportunity and permission.” Now you’re saying he was accused, but might have been innocent. Which is it? And what is the relevance of this case to the Conference report?

I think you are right to say that our Jewish neighbours need reassurance, (though I think using the flippant phrase “Methodists are lighting the ovens again” is particularly insensitive in this context, though I accept this is an inappropriate if naive attempt to inject humour into our exchange) and some way we should do this. Clearly judging by the reaction of the Chief Rabbi - not this Methodist Preacher blogger, who can be so easily dismissed - we have a considerable distance to travel.

I was particularly interested in the way in which Robin Shepherd writing in the Jerusalem Post interpreted Graham Carter’s comments:

“when he comes to the question of anti- Semitism that he meets his undoing. “I want to state quite clearly and categorically that there is no hint of anti-Semitism in what we have said or in what we intend,” he stated boldly. “If other people want to do things like that, that is their problem. It is not our problem as a Methodist church. We need to be honest about where stand and what we feel. And if we are concerned about anti-Semitism, why don’t we talk about the anti-Islam approach?” I leave it to others to judge whether there is a “hint of anti-Semitism” in what they have said or intended.

A fuller report of this can be found on this post: http://methodistpreacher.blogspot.com/2010/07/as-others-see-us.html

Now Robin Shepherd was just one Jew who heard Graham’s words. It is very clear that he did not feel he was being offered the “reassurance” which you believe we as a Church should offer. Far from it. I’m sure that Graham is not anti-Semitic.

I don’t think your light hearted quip about “Methodists are lighting the ovens again” bandwagon, would similarly offer that assurance. I simply don’t think you understand how offensive that sort of comment is to a Jew or anyone with Jewish blood . I shan’t take this line of argument further (In fact thinking about it my advice would be for you to delete that sentence from the comment and edit out my references to it here).

Response: I’m grateful for your advice, of course, but I see no reason to edit that line. By giving his article such an inflammatory title, Shepherd has linked the Methodist Church with the genocide of the Holocaust, a theme which his commenters have been keen to repeat. I was in no sense trying to be flippant, or introduce humour. I’m serious. Every preacher knows that, no matter how much care you take with what you say, there is nothing that can be done to prevent some people misunderstanding, as Shepherd has clearly done in this case. The task for Methodists of goodwill is to continue to offer friendship to our Jewish neighbours. Not to assume bad faith on the part of our ‘leaders’ and start mouthing-off about Methodist anti-semitism. It doesn’t help.

I’m as appalled as you at some of the
anti-Islamic comments on many of the blogs that have raised this issue. It shows how far we all have to travel. We can’t even get it right here in the Methodist blogsphere without some resorting to personal insults

Response: I take it you’re giving up on personal insults, then?

Kim I was interested to read your comments by Bonhoeffer. In the late nineties one of the coalition partners in the Israeli government were promoting a bill to outlaw all Christian missionary activity. Some argued that it would make the possession of a New Testament illegal (though this was denied but it demonstrates the sensitivities).

You are right that many Israelis are extremely sensitive to Christian “advice” about how they run their lives. This ranges from issues such as proselytising our Christian faith through to saying anything which to them seems to challenge their security.

Christian criticism of Israel, even from the Methodist Church, should be handled with great care. I don’t think that the Methodist Church have acknowledged this complexity in the promotion of this report.

To you and I there is a world of difference between telling people about Jesus and protesting about the actions of their military. I’m not certain that the Israelis completely understand that nuance and Bonhoeffers wise words may well help us.

In the event I met with the Christian leaders of Israel (incidentally these were Israeli born and had some very interesting things to say about Christians from overseas who interfered in their country’s politics) and helped co-ordinate opposition to the bill which included a meeting with Shimon Peres and several members of the Knesset.

It became apparent that the activities of external Christian groups in Israel do not inspire confidence amongst Israelis. There is much about Christian activity which is bluntly insensitive, even when it is intended to be helpful such as the activities of the various “Christian Zionist” groups, of which I have no experience in Methodism.

Fortunately thanks to these efforts and other factors missionaries are still free to operate in Israel. I don’t know if the same freedom is available in the area of the Palestinian Authority, though I have friends who regularly stay with Christian communities in the PA area.

Response: I’m not convinced you’ve grasped Kim’s point, but he can respond if he feels inclined

20

Kim 07.06.10 at 3:42 pm

Sorry, I’m still too lazy and technophobic* to do links, but I just picked the following up from the blog of Jim West. Just to add to the mix, mind.

Tax Exempt Donations to American Evangelicals are Funding Israeli Expansion into Palestinian Land
July 6, 2010 — Jim
The New York Times has the details. The gist is

… many [Evangelical/ Christian Zionist religious] groups in the United States [are] using tax-exempt donations to help Jews establish permanence in the Israeli-occupied territories — effectively obstructing the creation of a Palestinian state, widely seen as a necessary condition for Middle East peace.

And since those funds given by Americans to American religious groups are tax exempt-

The result is a surprising juxtaposition: As the American government seeks to end the four-decade Jewish settlement enterprise and foster a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the American Treasury helps sustain the settlements through tax breaks on donations to support them.

And worse

A New York Times examination of public records in the United States and Israel identified at least 40 American groups that have collected more than $200 million in tax-deductible gifts for Jewish settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the last decade. The money goes mostly to schools, synagogues, recreation centers and the like, legitimate expenditures under the tax law. But it has also paid for more legally questionable commodities: housing as well as guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure outposts deep in occupied areas.

American Evangelicals and Christian Zionists are funding illegal Israeli encroachment on Palestinian land. They probably don’t care, but they should.

*Glad to oblige Kim - R

21

Richard 07.06.10 at 3:55 pm

Here are what I consider to be the essential points:

The Methodist Church is not anti-semitic
The group who wrote the Conference Report were not motivated by anti-semitism
The report to the Conference was not anti-semitic
The Conference, in voting to receive the report, was not expressing anti-semitism

If we can agree on that, there might be a basis for this conversation to continue.

22

dh 07.06.10 at 5:38 pm

Fact remains, Palastinian land is the land of Jordan. Also, why should Israel give land away to people who don’t believe Israel’s right to exist as a nation? Why should Israel give land away as to divide Jerusalem?

Kim, good for the US for supporting Jewish settlements. These aren’t “Israeli occupied lands” but Israeli lands that Israel has let Palastinians exist in. Why not let Israelis and Palastinians co-exist on the West Bank? Israel has bent over backwards to recognize the Palastinians but they continue to support Hamas and Hezbollah. Once they stop supporting these groups then a greater collaberation can occur. Until then Israel is doing the right thing.

23

methodist preacher 07.06.10 at 6:52 pm

Richard, the hurt feelings of a handful of Methodists because they hear that some Jews and Israelis believe they may be anti-Semitic pales into insignificance besides the centuries of suffering that have beset the Holy Land and the actions of our Christian coreligionists in oppressing the Jews.

Unlike you I hardly consider this to be an “essential point” compared with that suffering.

I think your best course of action is to speak directly to Jews and Israelis. Why not write to the author of the Jerusalem Post article or the Chief Rabbi? They are far better placed than I to judge whether the Methodist Church has adopted an anti-Semitic stance by adopting a very flawed report. I am not in a position to make a judgment one way or another, nor I suspect, are you.

Perhaps like me, Jews and Israelis may have been surprised that a speaker at a formal session of our conference was able to dismissed, apparently unchallenged, that the Holocaust was a Zionist “tool” or that “some things Hamas does are appreciated by Christians”. I was not present, nor I gather were you, but I was shocked to read the report of the proceedings in the Methodist Recorder (01/07/2010 page 6). These comments would have barely been acceptable at a conference fringe meeting.

The real issue is how we can support those parties in the Holy Land that are working for peace. I have actually been active in the peace process. I applauded the Oslo Accords and worked hard to create the funding and atmosphere to create peace. I saw the fragility of that process and the forces that would want it to fail.

One of the issues I took up with the Israeli government was the “ring” settlements around the north and east of Jerusalem. That was in 1995. I had a little smile to myself this morning when I heard that an American president would be taking up the same issue today.

I was impressed by the work that went into creating and training a Palestinian Police Force and was delighted to meet a joint Israeli and Palestinian patrol. I enthusiastically endorsed the creation of cross border economic zones and was enthused with the notion of a major highway linking North Africa with Asia Minor.

These were plans for real projects, with real money that could have brought peace, prosperity and stability. I am as disappointed as anyone that parts of the areas of the Palestinian Authority have failed to develop a civil society. The Palestinians did have some impressive and formidable leaders who wanted to move on beyond the impasse that had developed since the 1967 conflict. However the civil war between Hamas and Fathah is the sign of a far deeper malaise.

Israel now finds itself with two dysfunctional statelets within a few miles of its major population centres. Externally funded groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah hold sway and their intended and stated outcome is the destruction of the State of Israel and the removal of the Jewish population. These demands are non-negotiable, see for example Chapter 11 of the Hamas Charter.

I have heard stories of the oppression within the Palestine Authority areas but have no reliable evidence apart from the reports which emerged immediately after the civil war. One interesting aspect of the speech by Naim Ateek to the Methodist Conference was his reference to possible attacks on Christians by “Muslim fanatics”.

In ensuring its security from forces within these statelets Israel has incredible dilemmas rarely faced by any other democracy. Sometimes this has degenerated into petty harassment. One Palestinian told me how his British passport enabled him to move with greater freedom than many of his countrymen, especially when there was a security clampdown following a bombing. We know from our experience in Northern Ireland just how difficult these decisions can be and we cannot say that our security forces always got it right. Just what is a “proportionate response” to the suicide bombing of a children’s school bus?

I’m really at a loss to know how any western denomination can make a positive contribution to any future peace process. Because we are Christians we cannot expect a hearing from Hamas and Hezbollah. I’ve had direct dealings with some of the states which fund these organisations and it was not pleasant.

The Iranian government was particular abusive when I raised the issue of a member of the B’hai faith who faced a death sentence for apostasy. The diplomats I met were simply amazed that I didn’t think he had committed a crime worthy of death. He was only saved because my urgent resolution was due to go before the European Parliament on the same day as some complex trade negotiations with Germany. Whatever you may think of Israel it is very different from the sort of society that Hamas and Hezbollah seek to establish. I don’t think there are many Methodist missionaries in Iran.

This afternoon I long a brief chat with an old friend. He and I take different views on the Holy Land but over the years I have helped him with a sports project. Initially I gave part of my tithe to a youth club on the West Bank, I gather the youngsters were mainly Muslims. This project developed until there were regular football matches involving Jewish and Palestinian children. He would get big name Premier players over, children from all communities have a common interest in football. Presently as many as 2000 children from 20 villages are involved.

He has worked on many of the theological themes briefly touched upon in the recent Methodist report to conference. He asked me to go through the book prior to publication for which I was acknowledged in the preface. I don’t agree with every word he says but I have commended his book to the Faith and order Committee of the Methodist Church who have been tasked with studying “Christian Zionism”.

I respect my friend because I know that he has turned his words into action. He is also a passionate believer that creating peace is at least a two way process.

What I find difficult about the discussion on this blog and the report to Conference is that there seems so little insight into the problems faced by both Israelis and Palestinians. Far from helping the situation the report seems intent on providing moral ammunition for the enemies of Israel. The working party was avowedly and deliberately one sided.

Richard and Kim, you are so vocal in support of the report. What contribution can the Methodist Church make to achieving real peace rather than grandstanding on an issue upon which it clearly knows little?

24

Tony Buglass 07.06.10 at 10:10 pm

DH: “Fact remains, Palastinian land is the land of Jordan.”

Well, actually, the occupied West Bank is part of Jordan, and is Palestinian land. As are several other bits which are claimed to “Eretz Yisrael.” The Israeli Supreme Court has said so.

It hasn’t stopped the building of illegal settlements, or the building of the wall on land stolen from Palestinians, and the concomitant destruction of livelihoods and communities.

It’s theft. It’s unholy. It’s so wrong. And it is storing up generations of Palestinian hatred against Israel. I understand entirely what MP is saying, about the feelings Jews have for the Christian communities who persecuted them - so why can’t they understand that the Palestinians feel the same way about the Israelis?

25

Tony Buglass 07.06.10 at 10:18 pm

MP: “You are right a “quick google search” will not bring up the information about the Methodist Minister who collaborated with the deportations. It was however widely reported at the time (pre-Google), making headlines on the television news bulletins of the day. However this was not reported in the Methodist Recorder.”

Well, now I’m confused. We’re obviously talking about WW2, but there were no television news bulletins then. I’d appreciate some clarification, if it isn’t too much of a diversion from the main matter. I have an idea of the situation you may have in mind, but I don’t know for certain. I know nothing of a Connexional cover-up - but then, I wouldn’t would I?

26

dh 07.06.10 at 10:23 pm

Tony, Jordan offered the Palastinians to come back to Jordan (not the West Bank) but all of the Palastinians declined. Also, this land was not “stolen from the Palastinians”. This was land that was given to Israel after the Arabs attacked unprovoking Israel. The building of the wall was AFTER Hamas and Hezbollah (whose goal is never to recognize Israel as a nation in anyway) were attacking innocent civilian people in Israel as Hamas and Hezbollah were being housed in areas surrounded by innocent civilians.

Christian communities who have persecuted the Jews? Evangelical Christians are the greatest supporters of the Jews. I know we can go way back in time. I can go way back before that where the Arabs were persecuting the Jews, etc. The reason with the Palastinians is different in that they were offered land in Jordan (not the West Bank) and they declined. The Land of Hebron is modern day Jordan without the West Bank. The West Bank is currently not part of Jordan for that was land that Israel obtained after being attacked by the Arabs without provocation.

Tony, it is interesting how you have “selective history” when obsrving hese things. Maybe you need to lookat ALL of the history as opposed to your one sided mismash.

27

Richard 07.06.10 at 10:44 pm

Absolutely, Tony.

David, I’m starting to despair at your tactics. First because (to coin a phrase) “you twist and turn like a twisty-turny thing”. One time you imply the Methodist Church is being motivated by anti-semitism (”Parts of the actual report which went to conference have clearly been influenced by the agenda of the anti-Semites”), and then you say you’re not in a position to judge who is being anti-semitic. Which is it? And you will keep misrepresenting what others have said, in comments here and on your own blog. There’s hardly any point in going through it all - it would take too long, and I’m too tired.

28

methodist preacher 07.06.10 at 10:53 pm

Tony, I am revising my opinion of the Jordanian decision to renounce its sovereignty over the West Bank. In the past I thought this was a positive step because it removed a potential flash point. However organisations such as Fatah, Hamas and Hezbollah have made it clear that they were as opposed to the Jordanian government as they were to the Israelis!

There was a similar situation in Gaza when Egypt ceded their sovereignty leaving a vacuum that was rapidly filled by groups such as Hamas.

Had Jordan remained the sovereign power there may have been stability but I think Jordan thought itself well rid of the area. This is a shame because I feel that the Jordanians would have been able to create the civil society the area so desperately needs.

I also feel that Jordan should have accepted the internationalisation of Jerusalem and Bethlehem in 1948. Instead they expelled any Jews from their sovereign area, especially in the Old City of Jerusalem and the suburbs to the east, and created additional flash points for the future

When I visited Amman I got the very clear impression that the Jordanians understood that there was more to be gained by peace than by war. Incidentally when I was in Amman and broke Ifkar with the King and leading members of the cabinet I was surprised at the heavy security. Apparently a little known terrorist called Osarma Bin Laden had announced he would attack us! Even our small children had heavily armed guards when they played outside our hotel.

Accounts actually differ about whether land has been “stolen”. Many Israeli settlers claim that they have paid a fair price for the land. Some Palestinians describe any land occupied by Israelis, even within the pre 1948 mandate area as “stolen”. The Israelis claim that a fair price was paid at all times and that some land in the Jordanian post mandate territories was illegally taken from them.

Once again a difficult issue about which it is difficult to make broad brush conclusions.

It isn’t the case that Israelis cannot see the difficulties faced by the Palestinians. There are Israelis who actively campaign for peace.

There are many who understand the difficulties faced by those who live in the Hammas controlled statelet. Once again there is no simple solution and I don’t accept that the 54 page report that went to Methodist Conference really did justice to a complex situation

29

dh 07.06.10 at 10:59 pm

What misrepresentation? Did you read all of what Mehodist Preacher said? It seems many many facts are being left to portray Israel as being overly evil or at least harsh when one sees the full picture of ALL the facts that the situation is way more complex then to reject Israels right to defend itself out of hand.

Also, he didn’t say he wasn’t in a positon to judge only that Jews and Israelis are a better group than Methodists as a whole. So I think MP is being misrepresented. Beyond that one really needs to read ALL of what MP said in the previous response for it is way more thorough and was less biased.

Fact remains: Israel should never negotiate until Hamas and Hezbollah are rejected by the Palastinians and support for Israel as a nation and an undivided Jerusalem are supported. These were the things Clinton tried to negotiate but it was the Palastinians not the Israelis who rejected Clinton’s terms. (Those are the facts)

30

PamBG 07.06.10 at 11:09 pm

I think your best course of action is to speak directly to Jews and Israelis. Why not write to the author of the Jerusalem Post article or the Chief Rabbi? They are far better placed than I to judge whether the Methodist Church has adopted an anti-Semitic stance by adopting a very flawed report. I am not in a position to make a judgment one way or another, nor I suspect, are you.

Well, if you listened to Christine Elliot’s report, not only was the Chief Rabbi consulted, but his office put forward his concerns. These did not include accusations of anti-Semitism but did include the message that there were specific theological concerns[1] and a mutual assurance of goodwill and reciprocal prayers for good.

If you listened to the link that you provided us, to Graham Carter’s introduction, you will also know that a number of representatives of British Jewish organisations, including one from the office of the Chief Rabbi, were present to hear the debate at Conference.

They, apparently, were able to disagree on this most highly comples and emotionally-charged debate without naming the Methodist Church as anti-Semetic and without hating Methodists in general. Something that some of our members are apparently not able to do.

[1] One of the theological concerns they mentioned was that the theology of a Jewish state should NOT be linked to “events in the 18th and 19th century” - i.e. to the Holocaust.

31

PamBG 07.06.10 at 11:16 pm

It’s all incredibly interesting in a perverse way.

The Methodist Church has called for a boycott of goods produced in settlements in the disputed areas of Gaza. I’m not actually certain what good that is going to do anyone at a practical level, to be honest.

The US government - probably Israel’s most important international supporter - also recently called for a halt to the construction of new settlements in the disputed areas of Gaza. Was the US government engaging in Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism in doing this?

32

methodist preacher 07.06.10 at 11:18 pm

Richard you have thrown me.

I’m trying to find the quote you attribute to me “Parts of the actual report which went to conference have clearly been influenced by the agenda of the anti-Semites”.

The search engine of my blog find no matches and I can’t see it any of the comments made above

Would you remind me of the source? It is a bit late so I may be missing something.

Thanks.

Tony: the situation to which I refer emerged in the 1990s with the release of classified papers, hence its appearance i
on the television news. I think that will jog your memory.

33

Tony Buglass 07.06.10 at 11:19 pm

PamBG: “[1] One of the theological concerns they mentioned was that the theology of a Jewish state should NOT be linked to “events in the 18th and 19th century” - i.e. to the Holocaust.”

Minor quibble - the Holocaust was 20th C. There were pogroms in the 18th and 19th C, but as far as I’m aware they’ve never been described as Holocaust. The Shoah refers specifically to the evil perpetrated by Nazi Germany, which was incomparable to anything which went before.

34

Richard 07.06.10 at 11:24 pm

Certainly David. The comment is here.

Incidentally, like Tony I’m a bit confused about the Methodist minister who was involved in the holocaust. I don’t remember anything about it. But also I don’t quite understand what you’re claiming about the story. Sometimes you seem to be saying that he was definitely complicit and the church should apologise. At another point you’ve said that you wanted an enquiry to establish his guilt or innocence.

35

Tony Buglass 07.06.10 at 11:31 pm

DH: “Christian communities who have persecuted the Jews? Evangelical Christians are the greatest supporters of the Jews. ”

Now who’s being selective about history? Who perpetrated the pogroms? Orthodox Russia, Catholic Poland. Who carried out the Holocaust? Lutheran Germany - yes, I know the Nazis weren’t really Christians, but their culture was Lutheran, and it has long been recognised by historians that without Luther’s anti-Semitism, Nazi anti-Semitism wouldn’t have flourished. From the Jewish point of view, the nations that have persecuted them for centuries are Christian. The support of Christian Zionists today doesn’t alter that.

Palestinian land has been stolen. Settlements have been built illegally on occupied land. The wall (given that Israel needed some kind of ’security barrier’ has been built in many places on Palestinian land - land owned by farmers, or parts of villages, cutting them off from their land and work. It wasn’t just a security measure, it was a retaliation.

I repeat - I have been a friend of Israel since 1967, when as a young teenager I found them embroiled in a war which I didn’t understand but they were the surrounded underdog; I was on their side! When I became a Christian a few years later, I became seriously personally involved with the Jewish story. When I learned Hebrew, it went into my heart as well as my head - the Jesus I follow is the Jewish mashiach, and I love his ancestral people and the land in which he lived. But they have turned their backs on the teachings of their own prophet, and upon the purposes of their God. I do fear they bring more judgment upon themselves. They make it very difficult for their friends to walk with them.

36

methodist preacher 07.07.10 at 9:08 am

Thanks Richard, I’ve now found the context.
Given the dependence on Dt Ateek to promote the report (the Holocaust dismissed as a Zionist “tool”) that appears to be the case. By dismissing the Holocaust in that way Ateek clearly moved into the territory of anti-Semitism.
RH responds: I do believe you’re just making this up as you go along. You can’t possibly be claiming that Dr Ateek’s speech to Conference provides the proper context for your comment. As far as I know, neither of us were aware of tht speech until the day after you posted this comment.
And I can’t say I’m even convinced that you’ve fairly represented what Dr Ateek said, but I don’t have time for a long reply, so it will have to wait.

Likewise when people make light of the Holocaust as in ” “Methodists are lighting the ovens again” bandwagon” it arouses in me at least the same concerns.
The Holocaust was a uniquely wicked event in human history that should neither be dismissed as a “tool” or used as a rhetorical “joke” on this blog.
RH responds: Just to repeat myself, I was in no way making light of the Holocaust, nor was I attempting any sort of joke. It was others who linked the Conference resolutions with the Holocaust, as you well know.

Tony: I’m going to follow up the story of the Methodist Minister’s contribution to the Holocaust. Somewhere I have a file on the issue but have moved house since and I fear it may have got lost. You can be rest assured that the Connexion has a file.
RH responds: But you still haven’t told us. Was the minister an enthusiastic collaborator with the Holocaust, as you first claimed? Or is it the case that there have been allegations about him which need investigation, as you have said since? These are two quite different scenarios.

37

methodist preacher 07.07.10 at 9:08 am

PS - I won’t be near the computer for the rest of the day.

38

dh 07.07.10 at 4:03 pm

Tony, to suggest that Hitler was in anyway a Christian or part of Christian culture is a misnomer. David Koresh called himself a Christian or like you say part of Christian culture but I in no way would place him in any Christian camp. The same goes with Hitler. It was NOT Luthern Germany who perpetrated this but false Luthern Germany who did this. Also the church were not the leaders of these nations in Germany and Russia. The government pretty much dictated their anti-semism onto the rest of the nation. With regard to Poland, they were not anti-semitic until Germany took over and dictated that to the nation.

Land was not stolen from Palastinians. This is Israeli land that Israel would not have obtained if it wasn’t for the Arabs attacking without initiation from Israel. The wall was NOT for retaliation but for security. If the Palastinians wouldn’t have supported Hamas or Hezbollah there wouldn’t be the need for the wall. You fail to recognize that the problem is when people don’t recognize Israels right to be a nation with an undivided Jerusalem.

Did you read my Clinton comment? This could have been solved then but the Palastinians and Arabs could not recognize Israel as a nation. They shot themselves in the foot (no pun intended) and they are paying for it now and this is not Israels fault.

With regard to turning their backs on their teachings, Palastinians don’t even follow the teachings of the one true God. If you want to talk about the teachings of their prophet, Israel has a right to the land they have and for others to dictate otherwise goes against the teachings of the prophets. So to me it is selective teachings of the prophets that you are following.

39

Kim 07.07.10 at 4:24 pm

Guys, don’t say I didn’t tell you. ;)

40

Tony Buglass 07.07.10 at 4:47 pm

DH: ” It was NOT Luthern Germany who perpetrated this but false Luthern Germany who did this.”

This is no more than playing with words, pal. I’m talking about a culture shaped by a Christian tradition, not personal faith - that was clear. And it is historically demonstrable.

“With regard to Poland, they were not anti-semitic until Germany took over and dictated that to the nation.”

Rubbish. Read your history again - Poland and Russia were notorious for pogroms long before Hitler came along.

” The wall was NOT for retaliation but for security. ”

Yes, of course it is. That’s why it’s been built on Palestinian land, through the middle of towns, etc. I attended a conference a few years ago in which we looked in close details on maps where the wall was built. And the amount of Palestinian land which was being swallowed up, and the diminishing Palestinian population - it all speaks for itself.

“Did you read my Clinton comment? This could have been solved then but the Palastinians and Arabs could not recognize Israel as a nation.”

Yes, I know. Both sides are guilty of aggravating the problem.

“Palastinians don’t even follow the teachings of the one true God. If you want to talk about the teachings of their prophet, Israel has a right to the land they have and for others to dictate otherwise goes against the teachings of the prophets. So to me it is selective teachings of the prophets that you are following.”

Many Palestinians are Christians. And I studied and taught OT prophecy, including translating a lot it from Hebrew. The key message of the prophets is justice and rightness (zedek w’mishpat), and that’s what we’re not seeing in Israel. Read them again, and learn.

41

PamBG 07.07.10 at 4:50 pm

Minor quibble - the Holocaust was 20th C. There were pogroms in the 18th and 19th C, but as far as I’m aware they’ve never been described as Holocaust. The Shoah refers specifically to the evil perpetrated by Nazi Germany, which was incomparable to anything which went before.

Yes. I always get the 1800s and the 18th century mixed up! The quotation from Christine Elliot at Conference about the concerns of the various Jewish groups was:

In their view, these shortcomings include, but are not limited to the misrepresentation of Jewish theological positions and of historical events. In their view, this includes for example, a failure to mention that the prayers of Jews for the realization of a homeland in Israel go back over millennia. There are concerns that an impression could be gained that this desire has as its origin the experience of the persecution in Europe during the 19th and 20th centuries.

42

dh 07.07.10 at 5:46 pm

“the diminishing Palestinian population - it all speaks for itself.” No it doesn’t with the clear support for Hamas and Hezbollah known terrorist organizations.

I really cannot coninue this discussion with a person who makes no reference to Hamas or Hezbollah and the fact that a majority of Palastinians support terrorist organizations. The fact remains as long as people support terrorist organizations then Israel has no choice but to do what they have done.

What is justice and righteusness is for people not to support terrorist organizations and when one side supports this the other side has no choice but to do what they have done. Israel has not supported terrorism and the evidence is clear who is in the wrong.

Many Christian Palastinians support Israel’s right to exist as an nation. So to lump them all together is wrong on both accounts.

“This is no more than playing with words, pal. I’m talking about a culture shaped by a Christian tradition, not personal faith - that was clear. And it is historically demonstrable.” Well I reject using this as an example when we are dealing with non-Christians here even within a “so-called culture”. Even within a “Christian culture context” (if we assume for argument sake) to associate these things to “Christian” propegates an over-generalization and wrong analysis of Christians that is not right. I always have problems when people look at an extreme position and propegate it to the whole.

43

methodist preacher 07.07.10 at 6:11 pm

Richard, I have now found the documentation regarding a Methodist Ministers role in the Holocaust. I am making further enquiries and will be posting in due course.
David

44

Richard 07.07.10 at 6:16 pm

Do we have to wait for your post before you say whether this fellow was a proven collaborator, or just someone about whom allegations have been made?

45

methodist preacher 07.07.10 at 6:34 pm

The evidence is substantial and is available in British government archives. When it was revealed it made the front page of The Times and had been documented in detail in a book by a well known writer.

Remember this issue only came up because your too clever by half co-contributor Kim Fabricus -always ready with a handy quip - wrote “On this snide insinuation, Methodists have moved beyond Holocaust denial to Holocaust complicity”.

I am just re digesting the information (I haven’t looked at in for nearly two decades) and considering whether any useful purpose will be served by bringing it up again.

I’m also waiting for a response from the Connexion, just in case action has been taken of which I am unaware.

If I were you, I would not die in the ditch trying to use this an an opportunity for yet another personal attack. I know the story and I have the evidence.

46

Richard 07.07.10 at 6:48 pm

No “personal attack”, David. (Not that I accept I’ve ever gone in for personal attacks) I’m just trying to clarify whether this minister
a. “was an enthusiastic collaborator once given the opportunity and permission”
or
b. has been accused and we need a “full investigation to see whether the story had any substance or whether the man was acting in innocence”

You’ve said both, and I don’t see how they’re compatible. Either you know the fellow was guilty or you don’t. There’s no need to spend ages with your file.

And one minister’s collaboration has no bearing on what Kim was saying. But you know that, really.

47

Kim 07.07.10 at 7:29 pm

Precisely. In fact, I would be quite surprised if you couldn’t find a Methodist minister complicit in the Holocaust. But from a Nazi minister one does not conclude that the Methodist Church is complicit in the Holocaust, anymore than from a child-molesting minister one concludes that the Methodist Church is complicit in paedophilia. Or racism. Or misogyny. Or homophobia (oops, maybe that’s not such a good analogy). Of course denial or cover-up are a different matter. But isn’t that a no-brainer?

48

methodist preacher 07.07.10 at 10:45 pm

Richard and Kim,

The thing that concerned me was the reaction of the Methodist Church when the situation came to light. Not that long ago. We are talking about recent history, in the working lifetime of senior officials currently at Church House. I wasn’t content with the way they handled concerns arising from this negative publicity.

By this time in a blog exchange things are getting fairly private - everyone else with any sense has gone off somewhere else.

So why don’t you two just relax?

Stop worrying and realise that the issues we are dealing with are quite profound and may, to some, be a matter of life and death.

Between you Connexions is a brilliant little blog that I enjoy reading, but sometimes, laddies, you just get beyond yourself.

Just calm down and see what emerges.

Just a word of advice from your Uncle Dave, who has been round the block a few more times than the pair of you have have hot dinners

Don’t die in a ditch for the indefensible.

.

49

Kim 07.07.10 at 11:06 pm

“Uncle Dave”? More like Lance Corporal Jones.

50

Richard 07.07.10 at 11:37 pm

I’ve written and deleted three replies. Sometimes silence is best…

51

Tony Buglass 07.07.10 at 11:50 pm

DH: “I really cannot coninue this discussion with a person who makes no reference to Hamas or Hezbollah and the fact that a majority of Palastinians support terrorist organizations.”

Well, that’s up to you. I HAVE mentioned both in the past, and I have repeatedly said that I’m a friend of Israel - which means I am not a friend of Arab terrorism. But your uncritical one-sided use of history is as bad as anything coming from them - Israel could have done a lot more to win the hearts and minds of the Palestinians (a good number of Jewish organisations are saying precisely that), and Israeli tacts over the last decade or two is precisely why a large number of Palestinians support terrorist organisations. (Incidentally, let’s not forget that the State of Israel was born through the work of terrorist organisations - Irgun Zvai Leumi and Haganah to name but two; doesn’t that put a different complexion on things?)

“Many Christian Palastinians support Israel’s right to exist as an nation.” Did I say otherwise? I was responding to your comments about Palestinians not following the true God.

“I reject using this as an example when we are dealing with non-Christians here even within a “so-called culture”” Then you are historically and sociologically naive and ignorant. It seems to be all so very black-and-white for you, whereas in fact the real world is a little more sophisticated than that. You have no idea of the affect of inculturation, nor how embedded you are within your own culture, so you seem to be blind to the way in which it can affect other people and nations. You can reject it all you like, but the Germany in which Hitler came to power was formed by both Lutheran and Catholic ideology, and they together formed the soil in which Wagner and Hitler cold both flourish and distort the original Lutheran message - although as I said earlier, Luther himself became nastily anti-Semitic.

52

PamBG 07.08.10 at 12:05 am

Trying to be substantive for a minute. I’ve got a considerable way toward transcribing the Conference debates. One point that kept coming up over and over was that the Methodist Church affirms the right of the Israeli State to exist in peace and security and this has already been documented in past policy - and is in writing.

Someone wanted to add this to the text of the report until another speaker, Paul Flowers, pointed out that such a text is actually already in the Report itself. I quote from my transcription:

I’m really sorry Madame President, but I point to the report, page 180 and I marked it in my copy. Paragraph 2.1, the middle of the second column, says: “We continue to affirm the right of the State of Israel to exist and that all the inhabitants of Israel/Palestine are entitled to their full human rights.” I believe that that covers the point, Madame Chair…President.

As always, there is a difference between:
(a) disagreeing with the content of the report - which is a perfectly legitimate position to take - and
(b) asserting that the only reason someone disagrees with my point of view is because they are anti-Semitic Holocaust deniers.

Media today in the UK and in the US persistently tries to sell us this dualistic viewpoint: You must agree with me 100% or you are one of the bad-guys who is trying to hurt others. As a culture we are losing our capacity for reasoned argument and critical thinking. We are losing the knowledge that there are more than two positions on any given subject and that nuance is possible. And when media only wants to boost its readership by any means possible - including being sparing with the truth to the point of dissembling - then I believe our society is being done a great disservice.

Truth matters.

53

Simon 07.08.10 at 8:45 am


Richard and Kim,

The thing that concerned me was the reaction of the Methodist Church when the situation came to light. Not that long ago. We are talking about recent history, in the working lifetime of senior officials currently at Church House. I wasn’t content with the way they handled concerns arising from this negative publicity.

By this time in a blog exchange things are getting fairly private - everyone else with any sense has gone off somewhere else.

So why don’t you two just relax?

Stop worrying and realise that the issues we are dealing with are quite profound and may, to some, be a matter of life and death.

Between you Connexions is a brilliant little blog that I enjoy reading, but sometimes, laddies, you just get beyond yourself.

Just calm down and see what emerges.

Just a word of advice from your Uncle Dave, who has been round the block a few more times than the pair of you have have hot dinners

Don’t die in a ditch for the indefensible.

I is one of dem fick people wot is still here, coz it takes me a long time to reed dis far down the page. I have to use dicshnree a lot. I looked on internet, but I not shure yet if Unkle Dafid is

conduhsending
or
PatRonising

I woz hoping Unkle Dafid could lern me wen it is good to speek to peeple like dat. Shud I do it at werk ( I always have someone wiv me ), or wen I am leeding wurship and prayerz (sometimez I do this wivout a helper)

Like I sed, I not very clevuh, but am very keen to lern new fings so I can get on in life! Sorry if my speling bad 2day, but I on my own at the moment so I does my best

Fanks!

54

Richard 07.08.10 at 9:55 am

Simon - Thank you for dropping by. Don’t worry if you don’t always understand some of the commenters here. Work hard and study, and one day perhaps you will be almost as clever and experienced as they are.

55

dh 07.08.10 at 4:04 pm

“I HAVE mentioned both in the past, and I have repeatedly said that I’m a friend of Israel - which means I am not a friend of Arab terrorism.”

Then why don’t you mention specifically Hamas and Hezbollah and the problem of Palastinians supporting those groups in the majority?

Israel was not born from Israeli terrorist organizations. That i your opinion of the two people. They were terrorists.

Just because Hitler stated to use Lutheranism and Christianity doesn’t mean that we need to propagate Christianity and Lutheranism to Hitler. Does that make sense? Are we going to propagate Christianity to David Koresh in Waco? The fact remains the guy was part of a cult and the extremity of his views were such that he had no resemblence to Christianity as a foundation. I’m sure they guy when he was a child went to church and such but that doesn’t mean the church messed him up but that the guy was messed up. The same goes for Hitler. We can look at agnosium at Hitler going to Lutheran churches as a child, connection to Lutheranism, etc. but the fact remains that his view of those was so way over the top of that that to associate him and Nazism to Lutheranism and Christianity seems to show equivication as opposed to where the problem rests on: the person himself and the organization lead by the person himself. That isn’t denial, ignorance, etc. but rationally looking at the person and group and not overgeneralizing similar to what you are doing here.

We can always find extremists in any group but that doesn’t make the group wrong in and of itself. To propagate the extremist to the group I believe is a miscontextualization when done and seems evident in what you are doing on this subject as well.

56

dh 07.08.10 at 4:05 pm

“Israel was not born from Israeli terrorist organizations. That “IS” your opinion of the two people. They were “NOT” terrorists.”

Sorry for the typo. :)

57

Tony Buglass 07.08.10 at 4:50 pm

DH: “Israel was not born from Israeli terrorist organizations…. They were [not] terrorists.”

Tell me, DH, just how much history have you actually read? And how much of the history of modern Israel? Do you actually know what Irgun and Haganah were? Or what they did? I suggest you do your homework before making such assertions.

For your information, Irgun was a militant Zionist organisation, which began terrorist attacks against Arabs and British soldiers as early as 1937, and continued until 1948 when Israel attained independence. These attacks included bombs in market places, indiscriminate attacks which killed large numbers of civilians, as well as more direct assassinations and shootings, ending with a massacre of over 120 civilians during and after the battle of Deir Yassin near Jerusalem. They also bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, killing 91 people.

I could go on at length, but the facts are clear. It is often said that one person’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist, but the tactics used by Irgun were nothing short of indiscriminate terror-tacts, aimed at getting both Arabs and British authorities out of Israel. It was such organisations as Haganah, Irgun, Lehi, and Palmach who worked between the 1920s and 1940s to create the platform for Israeli independence. So my comment (which was NOT as you misquoted) is historically correct: Israel was born OUT OF THE WORK OF terrorist organisations. Indeed, one of the most hardline and vicious of the Israeli Prime Ministers was Menachem Begin, who was the commander of the Irgun.

58

Kim 07.08.10 at 5:08 pm

There’s material here for a Fawlty Towers sketch:

“This is head. That is brick wall.”
[Sound of banging]

or:

“Don’t mention the pogroms.”
“What programmes?”
“And don’t mention the Deutsche Christen.”
“I won’t. By the way, who’s he?”
“And don’t mention Luther either.”
“Luther who?”
“Martin Luther, who said awful things about the Jews, and told people to burn down their synagogues.”
“No, he didn’t.”
“Yes, he did. It’s in writing.”
“It must be plagiarism. Luther wouldn’t say such things. Or if he did, he didn’t really mean it. It must be hyperbole for effect.”
“No, he meant it.”
“Then he didn’t say it. You must mean Hitler. Or David Koresh.”

59

dh 07.08.10 at 5:51 pm

Tony, these issues get difficult when you have terror groups with innocent people around them. Sometimes innocent people are hurt when terrible people house themselves wth innocent around them.

I never sais Luther was not an anti-semite. For he was but that doesn’t mean the Hhe should be compared in any way to Hitler or David Koresh.

I also don’t believe the line you mentioned that one persons terrorist is one person freedom fighter. Keep on equivicating. (sarcasm)

60

PamBG 07.08.10 at 9:13 pm

Tony, these issues get difficult when you have terror groups with innocent people around them. Sometimes innocent people are hurt when terrible people house themselves wth innocent around them.

Yes, and theologically, it is an abomination when innocents are killed. It is an abomination in the sight of God when Israeli innocents are killed, when Palestinian innocents are killed, when Lebanese innocents are killed, etc.

The problem of mixing politics with theology is that we humans take the Realpolitik tactics of “Some innocents must inevitably die in order for us to meet our politcial objectives” and we try to baptise our political objectives as right and holy in the sight of God and we claim that therefore God rejoices at the death of our enemy’s innocents.

Ancient Israel made this mistake when it rejoiced at the smashing of its enemies’ innocent babies on the rocks. Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations make this mistake when they claim that God rejoices at the death of innocent Jews and Christians. And many Zionist Christians make this mistake when “we” try to claim that “God wants the Jewish people in Israel, therefore the taking of property, livilihoods and lives from all non-Jewish people is right and just and blessed by God”.

Violence against innocents is always wrong. And when we refuse to see that Israel does wrong and when we refuse to believe that their actions - or the actions of our government in their support - could ever be wrong, we lose our moral compass. We can not be morally and ethically clear-eyed when we get to the place where we claim that no person or people can ever do wrong.

61

dh 07.08.10 at 9:30 pm

It is ethically and morally if that is not the intent. How does one “eliminate” terrorists who hide around innocent people when that happens to be the location where bombs against innocent Israeli’s occurs? I consider it worse an abomination for terrorists to launch missles against innocent people from locations where terrorists are housed with innocents around. To me that is the greater abomination which is hardly ever addressed by the other side. It is always Israel that is to blame. To me that is one-sided and a total misnomer to do that.

The fact remains Israel cannot negotiate with people who don’t claim Israel’s right to be a nation and right to havean undivided Jerusalem. The fact remains the Palastinian land is the Land of Hebron and that is where a livlihood, land and property was a better offer than otherwise when one looks at the situation now with Palastinians paying for their support of terrorism. When a people support terrorist organizations which destroy innocent people it is almost impossible to negotiate with them. Clinton had it somewhat right but the Palastinians rejected it and even worse voted in Hamas and Hezbollah. What is Israel supposed to do be like Nevile Chamberlain as you indirectly imply?

62

Tony Buglass 07.09.10 at 12:28 am

DH: “I also don’t believe the line you mentioned that one persons terrorist is one person freedom fighter. Keep on equivicating. (sarcasm)”

Which proves precisely what? (Apart from the fact you can’t spell ‘equivocating”…)

During the Nicaraguan and Salvadorean conflicts of the 1970s and 1980s, the activities of certain groups were described in left-wing newspapers as ‘freedom fighters’ and in right-wing papers as ‘terrorists’; during WW2 Allied bomber crews were described as ‘terrorflieger’ by the Germans; the French Resistance were described as terrorists. You can play around with the words as much as you like, it makes little difference what you affirm or deny. In this case, it is clearly demonstrable: the birth of the modern state of Israel came about through the efforts of terrorist organisations. I have made a clear and factual case, you have so far not been able to offer anything to falsify that case. Until you do, it stands. Your assertions of belief or unbelief are irrelevant: only evidence will count.

63

PamBG 07.09.10 at 1:08 am

It is ethically and morally if that is not the intent. How does one “eliminate” terrorists who hide around innocent people when that happens to be the location where bombs against innocent Israeli’s occurs?

I don’t know.

But my question to you is why does it not matter to you when the dead people are Palestinian civilians and the people dropping bombs are soldiers in the Israeli army?

You are not taking a Christian view. You are taking the political view that they are collateral damage for a nationalist cause that you believe in.

It’s fine to hold that political view.

It’s not fine to say this is a Christian value and that God doesn’t care about dead Palestinians.

(And I always wonder why we are supposed to worry about “persecuted Christians” as long as those persecuted Christians aren’t living in the Holy Land, in which case we can just pretend that they are Muslim terrorists who deserve to die.)

64

methodist preacher 07.09.10 at 10:30 pm

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