Free speech?

by Richard on March 9, 2011

I never expected the recent conversation here about free speech to have an urgent relevance to the little world of British Methodist blogging. But it does.

Self-styled controversialist David Hallam (aka Methodist Preacher) has been pursuing a campaign against what he sees as anti-semitism in the Methodist Church since the Conference last summer. He has even threatened a lawsuit against the church, though there is still no sign of it 5 months after the threat was made. Many of his posts have, to my mind, been distortions of reality. However, a post today goes further than anything he has written before and has “crossed the line”.

Writing about a recent visit of our President and Vice-President to Israel/Palestine, he suggests

…this was not a visit designed to encourage peace and reconciliation. It was clearly intended to generate yet more anti-Jewish sentiment within the Connexion.

I’ve tried hard to find some way of reading that statement that isn’t grossly offensive, but I can’t. I’ve left comments at his blog asking that he modify the statement, since I can’t quite believe that he means it, but this has only led to a repetition. David Hallam is saying that someone in our headquarters has organised a Presidential visit to Israel for the purpose of stirring up anti-semitism. That seems to me to go well beyond what should be acceptable. If it were true, it would be grounds for a formal complaint and disciplinary action against any staff involved.

By his own admission, he has no evidence of that intention. His only ‘proof’ is a single blogpost reporting the visit. He doesn’t know who organised the trip (though if he had read the President’s blog a bit more carefully, he would’ve - it’s in the first paragraph), still less have any knowledge of their intentions. Foolish and careless rhetoric like this should not come from any Methodist. Let alone a preacher.

The Methodist Church rejects anti-semitism. David knows that. But if he really believes what he is saying here he really has to bring a formal complaint.

I rather suspect that he won’t.

{ 128 comments… read them below or add one }

1

Matt Pryor 03.09.11 at 4:26 pm

I thought David Hallam made a very good point. How else are people going to interpret it when Jews are slandered in this way and not given right of reply?

Do you not know what this leads to, Mr Hall?

Why don’t you address the issue instead of attacking him?

2

Avraham Reiss 03.09.11 at 4:41 pm

“The Methodist Church rejects anti-semitism”? I don’t think so!

When it organizes and finances a tour of Israel but totally ignores Israelis - JEWS! - apart from 1 “token Jew” - then anti-semitism is very obviously a key-note in the planning.

Use of the fictitious term ‘Palestine’ - which is recognized nowhere - is a stand against the Jewish State, which is anti-semitism, because we have finally exposed the christian lie of “the Wandering Jew”.

As an Israeli, I don’t really care a fig if the Methodist Church is philo- or anti-semitic - you are totally insignificant to us - a nonentity.

But as long as you ARE anti-semitic, at least have the intellectual honesty to admit it.

3

Bob Gilston 03.09.11 at 4:45 pm

What was that we were saying about free speech and telling lies?

4

Richard 03.09.11 at 4:54 pm

You care enough to comment here though, Avraham.

The intellectual dishonesty is in refusing to recognize that opposing some of the policies of the secular state of Israel does not equal anti-semitism.

5

Richard 03.09.11 at 4:59 pm

I don’t know what you mean Matt. The issue here is that David claims that the President’s Israel trip was organized with the intention of fomenting anti-semitism in the British Methodist Church. A very serious accusation which he is completely unable to substantiate. Indeed, the evidence of his post is that he didn’t even bother to read the President’s blog properly. If asking him to put up or shut up is an attack, then so be it.

6

Avraham Reiss 03.09.11 at 5:06 pm

Richard,
what you wrote is theoretically possible, for someone who would be totally objective. In addition, I am certainly not objective, and I also oppose some of MY government’s policies.

But where Christianity is involved, 2,000 years of Jews living amongst Christians - that is a very hefty experience - has taught us not to expect love or honesty from Christians. There are exceptions, but they are just that - exceptions.

My very limited understanding of the Methodist Church is that anti-semistism is something new to it, but it is acclimatizing very quickly.

7

Richard 03.09.11 at 5:39 pm

I know that it is more than theoretically possible, Avraham because I know that anti-semitism has no place in the Methodist Church. We’ve been over this before, and I know you’re not going to be convinced.

But it is true nonetheless.

8

Kim 03.09.11 at 5:50 pm

Whoosh! Richard posts at 16:19, Matt checks in at 16:26, and Avraham arrives 15 minutes later (long time no see). Man, even this tinpot version of the Israeli propaganda machine (euphemistically called hasbara [explanation]) is incredibly swift to respond to anything that doesn’t square with its doctine of inerrancy. “Palestine” is a fiction, critics are anti-Semites, blah, blah, blah. You will build your settlements here for a while, torch the truth, scorch the earth, and then, eventually, in exhaustion or exhilaration, move on. And then lemon trees will grow again at Connexions.

9

Matt Pryor 03.09.11 at 6:12 pm

@Kim:
Richard posted on David Hallam’s blog and I was alerted by email as it was a follow-up to my own post. Naturally I was curious as to what he’d written. I imagine the same is true for Avraham, although since I don’t know him I can’t verify that.

If you want your squabbling to be private then put it in your monthly magazine not on the internet.

Furthermore, if you wish to avoid charges of anti-Semitism then please stop seeing Jewish (sorry, Zionist!) conspiracies everywhere.

10

Sceptique 03.09.11 at 6:17 pm

Making an “Israel/Palestine” visit is already putting “Palestine”, a fictitious state in 3000 years of known history, on the same level as a state that existed 3000 years ago and was recognized 63 years ago by the United Nations.
Then visiting only one side and meeting only opponents of the other side, Jew or not, is totally one-sided. Since anti-semitism is widespread in “Palestine” and Christians are bullied there too (while they are not in Israel), it seems quite obvious that there is malice in this visit.
Whether voluntary or not, it will foster anti-semitism, because that is exactly the way to do it.

Reply: But David didn’t say this visit would ‘foster’ anti-semitism. He said it was set up with the intention “to generate yet more anti-Jewish sentiment within the Connexion”. And that isn’t true.


11

Matt Pryor 03.09.11 at 6:18 pm

Richard: As I said, I think David has a point. That’s certainly how it looks to an outsider, such as me. Why else would the mission deliberately not speak to those “Jewish settlers”? Surely all human beings’ feelings and thoughts are worthy of listening to - regardless of whether you approve of their choice of residence, or the behaviour which they are accused of!

12

Zack 03.09.11 at 6:59 pm

Kim, wow a hasbara reference and the sinister ‘Israeli propaganda machine’ what next the, Zionist/moonman nexus, you’ve been listening too much conspiracy crap your beginning to sound like a dick.

13

PamBG 03.09.11 at 7:07 pm

Perhaps this is one of those instances where a long extended discussion isn’t really helpful?

It’s pretty clear that David is going to continue to say that institutional Methodism is pursuing an anti-Israel agenda. Why continue to give that view a forum in blogs outside of his own? I strongly suspect he has his own personal agenda (although I don’t know exactly what it is); but why aid and abet that agenda?

Reply: Point taken Pam. I haven’t engaged with David for ages for just that reason, and I paused for some hours before posting my piece. But it seemed (and seems) to me that his claim that the President’s visit was intended to stir up anti-semitism within Methodism was so monstrous that it had to be answered.

14

Daphne Anson 03.09.11 at 7:36 pm

The blog that David Hallam attacks displays a woeful lack of ignorance and of empathy for Israel - and he is absolutely justified in pointing out the significance of Hebron in Judaism. I’ve blogged about this issue now, and heartily support David and thank him for his support for Israel despite what would appear to be mockery, intimidation, and an unhealthy dose of “replacement theology” - which by denying Jewish identity and aspirations inherent in Judaism sails close to the wind of antisemitism, and has of course fed Jew-hatred over the centuries - from some of his detractors.

15

Joseph W 03.09.11 at 7:39 pm

Why did the Methodist Church delegation only meet with Palestinian-Arab and not Israeli-Jewish believers in Christ?

Reply: I don’t know how the itinerary was organized. What I do know is that David’s claim that the trip was organized in order “to generate yet more anti-Jewish sentiment within the Connexion” is not just false, it is ludicrous. As I think any fair-minded person will see.

16

Avraham Reiss 03.09.11 at 7:52 pm

Kim, you said:
“You will build your settlements here for a while, torch the truth, scorch the earth, and then, eventually, in exhaustion or exhilaration, move on.”

“for a while”? The Israeli renaissance started back in the late 1800’s.

Note that word “here”, Avraham. Kim was clearly meaning “here” — you know, as in “this place”. He was talking about this blog. Which rather renders the rest of your comment redundant.

“torch the truth”? Who has been supporting the fictitious existance of so-called “Palestine”? Methodists, perchance?

I fail to see how you think that referring to the Palestinians as a fiction is going to help the situation.

“and then, eventually, in exhaustion or exhilaration, move on.”?
This is a blog devoted to religion. You should try some.

Ezekiel Chapter 36, for example:
8 But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.
9 For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be
tilled and sown:
10 And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it: and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded:
11 And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings: and ye shall know that I am the Lord.
12 Yea, I will cause men to walk upon you, even my people Israel; and they shall possess thee, and thou shalt be their inheritance, and thou shalt no more henceforth bereave them of men.
13 Thus saith the Lord God; Because they say unto you, Thou land devourest up men, and hast bereaved thy nations;
14 Therefore thou shalt devour men no more, neither bereave thy nations any more, saith the Lord God.
15 Neither will I cause men to hear in thee the shame of the heathen any more, neither shalt thou bear the reproach of the people any more, neither shalt thou cause thy nations to fall any more, saith the Lord God.

This is a prophecy concerning the return of Jews to the Land of Israel. We are right in the middle of its realisation, in fact well past the mid-point.

“O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come.”

-which means that the first sign of our redemption, is agricultural activity; just compare Israel today with what it was 100 years ago - no other nation has ever made the Land bloom.

“in exhaustion or exhilaration, move on” - don’t hold your breath: we are here to stay.

17

fat prophet 03.09.11 at 8:32 pm

May I please put a thought forward here in respect of the Presidents and Vice Presidents blog and in fact all of the other blogs that claim to be Methodist.
My question would be how widely read are they by ordinary Methodist people here in Great Britain? How many rank and file Methodists even know who the Presidential team are and except for the sad people like me who still have the Methodist Recorder how many will know that they have been on this trip?
I would also have to say that I am not sure many ordinary church members will even be aware of the anti-semitic (or not) stance that the Methodist church is allegedly taking and I have to say sadly that probably most of our members are more concerned about their own local issues than the larger picture that features events on the world stage.

18

Avraham Reiss 03.09.11 at 9:03 pm

Richard,

1. I did in fact misunderstand the use of the word “here”, as you have pointed out. But I have no doubt that Kim would not object to what I understood, as well.

2. “I fail to see how you think that referring to the Palestinians as a fiction is going to help the situation”
- I never said that. I referred to the Land entity mistakenly termed “Palestine”, NOT to the people. And quite frankly, I prefer the local Arab (Muslem) population to Christians (although not to ALL Christians; there are many decent ones.) With the Arabs we only have a disagreement regarding land. Had we settled in Uganda instead of in Israel, the Arabs would have been OK with us. Whereas you Christians regard us Jews all as Christ-killers, wherever we live, in Israel and outside of it, and as sentenced to wander forever.

I’ve said before, the only difference between the Holocaust and the Spanish Inquisition, was technological: had the Catholic Church possessed the technological capability of burning alive 6,000,000 Jews for refusing to convert - it would have done so.

As for “torching” and “scorching” here, in your blog, I am making every effort to respect the hospitality and possibility to express my views, afforded by you: no “torching”, and no “scorching”.

19

Joseph W 03.09.11 at 9:45 pm

Since the Methodist partial-boycott of Israel, a Methodist church has been turned into a Tesco supermarket.

Tesco stocks lots of Israeli goods.

20

Joseph W 03.09.11 at 9:49 pm

“Man, even this tinpot version of the Israeli propaganda machine (euphemistically called hasbara [explanation]) is incredibly swift to respond to anything that doesn’t square with its doctine of inerrancy”

The counter to your argument would be:

“Man, anyone who disagrees with you on Israel /Palestine is treated like an apostate!”

But I’m not sure that either statement is true or fair.

21

Avraham Reiss 03.09.11 at 10:08 pm

“Since the Methodist partial-boycott of Israel, a Methodist church has been turned into a Tesco supermarket.”

Once, on a visit to London, I passed an old synagogue in Brondesbury Park, where I had prayed for many years as a child. It had become a “Center for Islamic Studies”.

If I were a British Methodist, I would be far more worried about increasing Islamic influence in Britain, than about what is happening in the Middle East, several thousand miles away.

Tony Blair once replied to a group of Jews: “we have in Britain 350,000 Jews and 3,500,000 Muslems: how do you expect me to behave?”
But that’s one of the prices of anti-semitism: it closes one’s eyes to dangers at home. Just as Hitler’s extensive use of trains for transporting Jews to death camps, deprived his military of valuable and much needed means of transport.

Regarding the Tesco store, I think it’s move was in bad taste.

22

Adam 03.09.11 at 10:54 pm

Richard, the anti-Semitsm of the Methodist Church is apparent by its application of double standards - holding Jews to standards it does not apply to others.

It is a disgrace.

23

Adam 03.09.11 at 10:57 pm

Yes PamBG, I’m sure it isn’t “helpful” to have one’s prejudices scrutinized too closely. Much better to go on blindly believing them without having them challenged. So much more comfortable.

Reply: David H was not scrutinizing or challenging anyone’s prejudices. He was claiming that the visit to Israel of the President of the Methodist Conference was organized with the intention — for the purpose of — stirring up anti-semitism. You have to be a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic to believe that.

24

Joseph W 03.09.11 at 11:06 pm

Yes I agree, I don’t think it sets a good precedent selling goods in religious buildings. Ironic nevertheless.

25

PamBG 03.10.11 at 12:17 am

@Adam @Joseph W:

“Perhaps this is one of those instances where a long extended discussion isn’t really helpful?”

26

PamBG 03.10.11 at 12:19 am

But it seemed (and seems) to me that his claim that the President’s visit was intended to stir up anti-semitism within Methodism was so monstrous that it had to be answered.

@ Richard, I understand that. Now that it’s said, maybe the best thing to do is to refrain from being manipulated for PR purposes by David and his assembled Greek Chorus?

27

Corin Keiler-Lloyd 03.10.11 at 1:49 am

David doesn’t have a Greek chorus. He has drawn attention to anti-semitism and people have responded. No conspiracies etc. The tour was designed to stir up anti-semitism. David also asks,’By whom?’ He points out that it is all too easy to be taken in by Arabist propaganda and self-hating Jews and ignore the legal and historical claims of Israelis in general.

The sad fact is that the liberal Methodist leadership has been taken for suckers by Islamist extremists [Richard interjects: Islamist extremists like Rabbi Arik Ascherman, B'Tselem, Rabbi David Rosen, Bishop Suheil Dawani, the Latin Patriarch, the Arab Evangelical Schoool...?] whio have fed then a sob story devoid of historical context and substantive facts; not to mention sound Christian Theology. How do you explain to Jesus that you denied His people a place to live?

28

Richard 03.10.11 at 7:17 am

>> “The tour was designed to stir up anti-semitism”

I want you to read that again and think about what you (and David) are saying — that someone inside Methodist Church House set up this visit to Israel with the plan and purpose that it should result in greater anti-semitism within Methodism.

Doesn’t that sound ridiculous to you? It should.

But PamBG is right: further back-and-forth would serve little purpose. I’m done. I don’t want to lose comments, but I’m likely to be heavy-handed with the editors pen from this point. Don’t take it personally.

29

Avraham Reiss 03.10.11 at 7:24 am

Richard, point blank:
Regardless of any possible intentions behind the visit, do you see the form taken by the visit as it was reported, as one-sided - or not?

Reply: “Intentions” are the issue here, Avraham. I’ve just said I’m done — that’s what I meant.

30

Kim 03.10.11 at 10:38 am

The tour was designed to stir up anti-semitism.

That goes to motive (as does David’s original post). Perhaps you have the spiritual penetration to read hearts; otherwise, unless you produce some evidence, Corin, you are bearing the worse kind of false witness. And speaking of motive, what might yours be for the equation of critique of Israel with anti-Semitism? I know it’s standard practice in Israeli propaganda, but tedious repetition doesn’t make it true. In fact, it is demonstrably false. So either you are very stupid - and that’s okay, stupidity is correctable - or you are being malicious. Of course, that goes to motive, but it’s either stupidity or malice. Your choice.

How do you explain to Jesus that you denied His people a place to live?

Excellent, Corin. At least here you raise a theological question. And I trust you will agree that to answer it we must go to the New Testament. And if you go to the New Testament, you will find that while Jesus - and Paul - are extemely agonised by the fate of Israel the people, they haven’t the slightest interest in a Jewish land or temple. Being-in-Christ has replaced being-in-the-land; or as that notorious anti-semite N.T. Wright puts it, “the world is the new Land.” Christology uniformly makes geography theologically irrelevant. (Politically, of course, the state of Israel belongs to the family of nations, and I pray for her peace and prosperity.)

Best,
Kim (the dick [cf. Zack at #12])

31

Offended Jew 03.10.11 at 10:41 am

Steve Hucklesby and whoever else organised and PLANNED this trip (and I suspect that your Pres and her vice had a fair hand in it) were clearly intent on strengthening the strand of antiSemitic selective sight and sound being peddled to your conference and membership. Clearly the visit was PLANNED primarily to breast-beat alongside the rejectionist voices - and not those clearly intent on peace and coexistence.

Reply: I can only repeat what I have said before, and refer you to Kim’s comment #30 below. If David had confined himself to the content and outcome of this trip, I’d have disagreed but kept my peace. If he had said it was poorly planned, I’d have stayed quiet. But he has said — and you seem to have agreed — that the trip was planned WITH THE INTENTION of raising anti-semitism within the Methodist Church. If that’s what you think, do something about it.

Just one example - why didn’t Al and Eun plan to visit the (concurrent) Agriculture festival and give a Methodist voice to the recognition of real coexistence and mutual respect instead of their itinery of partisan hatred and division and, of course, of BLAMING THE JEWS. If they had visited, they would have met more than 400 Palestinian farmers and the PA agricultural minister all engaging in much 2-way trade with their neighbours - the Israelis. Why wasn’t their jaunt planned to include this? Didn’t it concur with their prejudiced agenda? Sorry, I forgot, you are all about boycotting the Jewish State.

Come on Richard and PamBG (are you related to Ben Gurion? Do you even know who he was?) - this visit was meant to strengthen the boycott and the Methodist partisan support for rejectionism that your conference initiated and I , as a Jew, see that as AntiSemitic - especially in view of the deliberate skewing of context, the mistranslation of Isiah and the blatant omitting to tell your membership of the key and pivotal historical personalities, facts, events….. and …..just the truth.

32

Corin Keiler-Lloyd 03.10.11 at 11:08 am

The tour is demonstrably unbalanced as numerous posts, especially from Jews have shown. No-one has addressed the question of who designed the tour. I have suggested that the leadership have been taken for a ride by Islamists and liberal self-hating Jews.

Response: Whether the tour was unbalanced or not is not the issue in this thread. But it is interesting that you’ve widened your circle to include “self-hating Jews”. Now who is being anti-semitic? The issue that I’ve raised is concerned only with David’s ascribing of evil intention

As for theology, I was taught that we need to look at the WHOLE of scripture before drawing conclusions. There are clear promises made to Abraham and others, which , if broken will cause us to God’s reliability. Our salvation and our Messiah rest on the bedrock of Old Testament Scripture. So no, I will not selectively pick what suits me and dismiss the OT in this debate. I am no Montanist.

Nasty little picture that you chose for me, Richard. Out of the abundance of the heart…

Response: Sorry to disappoint, but the avatars are done by a little gremlin somewhere on t’interweb. Nothing to do with me. But if you sign up for a gravatar, you can use your own picture.

33

Corin Keiler-Lloyd 03.10.11 at 11:09 am

should read:

cause us to question God’s reliability

34

Offended Jew 03.10.11 at 11:28 am

the equation of critique of Israel with anti-Semitism according to Kim is nonsense - “in fact it is demonstrably false” she says. Well - go ahead - demonstrate it. But please don’t tell me that some of her best friends are Jewish!

Response: One quick and incontrovertible demonstration: some of that criticism comes from Jews. And Kim is a bloke.

In the meanwhile I will demonstrate why UNFAIR criticism of Israel, such as at your Conference - and the UN too - is AntiSemitism.

In 2008 the UN review conference on anti-racism was held in Geneva (known as Durban II). Its planning committee was chaired by Libya! By the Gaddaffi stooge, Al Hajjajji. As a Christian apparently concerned about Human Rights, do you consider that chair appropriate? The buffoon Ahmadinejad who ridicules and promotes denial of the Holocaust addressed the conference plenary on the very same day, Yom HaShoah, when the Jewish nation worldwide annually mourns and commemorates the Nazi Holocaust.

Now let’s look at the timescale of its activities in the lead up to the conference –
(1) October 8-9, 2008: The only two substantive planning sessions for the UN’s so-called “anti-racism” review conference were deliberately planned over major Jewish holidays, including the holiest day of the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur. (But this must also be viewed in the light of concerns expressed by countries of the democratic world that the review conference (Durban II) must avoid a repeat of the rabidly anti-Semitic atmosphere and scenes that had been allowed to prevail at the original conference in Durban)
(2) September 30, 2008: By contrast, in order to observe the Eid holiday to mark the end of Ramadan, the United Nations shut down totally in both New York and in Geneva.

Now that is real double-standards. And anti-Semitism.
Did I miss your conference resolution on that?

The UN Human Rights Council then concluded its September 2008 session by
a) eliminating the investigative mandate on human rights abuses in Liberia,
b) praising Sudan,
and
c) censuring Israel for the twentieth time in two years.

Until the recent volte-face on Gadaffi, apart from condemning Israel, the council has criticized North Korea once and Myanmar four times. The UN’s other 189 countries have avoided any condemnation. Clearly, therefore, it would appear, according to the esteemed UN, that human rights have always been strictly upheld in Libya, China, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Chechnya, Congo, Rwanda, Syria, Kenya, Iran, etc.etc. BUT NOT BY ISRAEL? …. that is anti-Semitism!

And your Pres and vice and others deliberately planned their trip to effect maximum censure of Israel in this regard. When are they going to visit Christians in Egypt or Jordan or Saudi or Yemen etc…? The Christians in Israel are doing just fine - the only growing community of Christians in the entire Middle East.

You tell me to do something about it? I have done - I have met with my local Methodists and told them exactly what is wrong with their resolution and that it is antiSemitic! But Richard - it’s your resolution - only you can do something about it!

Response: I have to tell you, I’m running out of patience. This thread has nothing to do with Conference Resolutions. We’ve been all over that. This is about one, very specific, item: whether or not David Hallam had any justification for saying that our President’s trip to Israel was planned with the intention of increasing anti-semitism in the church. Was he right to suggest that someone set out to stir up anti-Jewish hatred within Methodism? That’s the issue.

35

Bene D 03.10.11 at 11:32 am

Corin:

I’ll assume you aren’t familar with Word Press.
No one chooses your ‘nasty little picture’. These are randomly generated avatars which are part of the Word Press platform for those who don’t have their own.

There are six choices a blog owner has - (the well known self made Gravatars), blank, Mystery Man, Identicon, Wavatar and Monster ID. All done by open source programmers for free for those of us who run blogs.

If you are so unhappy Corin, why not complain to Word Press?
There are 2.5 WP blogs used by approximately 284 million people in 120 languages - spiritualizing a randomly generated avatar is quite remarkable.

36

Sceptique 03.10.11 at 11:40 am

I wrote:

Then visiting only one side and meeting only opponents of the other side, Jew or not, is totally one-sided. Since anti-semitism is widespread in “Palestine” and Christians are bullied there too (while they are not in Israel), it seems quite obvious that there is malice in this visit.
Whether voluntary or not, it will foster anti-semitism, because that is exactly the way to do it.

I received an answer:

Reply: But David didn’t say this visit would ‘foster’ anti-semitism. He said it was set up with the intention “to generate yet more anti-Jewish sentiment within the Connexion”. And that isn’t true.

In what way is this an answer to the fact that there was malice in that visit and that it will foster anti-semitism?
Are Methodists supposed to have malicious intent against Israel and foster anti-semitism? This seems especially un-Christian, doesn’t it?

Response: It would indeed be deeply unchristian and anti-methodist, if it were true. But it isn’t.

37

Offended Jew 03.10.11 at 12:44 pm

Richard - you don’t seem to get it?

the trip is a direct result of the unfortunate resolution - it was planned to reinforce the resolution - and because it is so one-sided in its apportion of blame - it is Antisemitic. It was planned to be (by its itinery) and in practice it fulfilled that.

As for Kim and his perhaps self-deluding Jewish friends that are critical only of Israel and sometimes Jewish only for their berating crtiticsm of Israel - if they are unfair in their balance then they too are AntiSemitic. They don’t speak for me or the millions of Jews who argue and debate every moot point both within democratic Israel and outside it but not to the deliberate exclusion of what’s happening in the rest of the world and who do not descend into mis-apportioning the blame on one side. Jews, as Christians, Muslims and Hindus, Sikhs, etc. come in all colours and shapes - and that includes crackpots too!

If you want an example of some balanced criticsm of Israel that is fair and clearly not Anti-Semitic, then why not read the comments of the President Jose Ramos Horta of East Timor on his recent trip to Israel and the West Bank.

But Richard, unfortunately I have also ran out of patience on this thread because you clearly are not interested in some good factual-based arguments.

let me know when you write something balanced?

Response: I “get it” very well — “it” being the issue that I raised. I understand why you want to broaden the issue, but I don’t. And it’s my blog. Go with God.

38

Matt Pryor 03.10.11 at 12:57 pm

@Offended Jew

Thanks for the tip, I’ve read Jose Ramos Horta’s article on Huffington Post and I agree, it is balanced and optimistic.

For those who have not read it, it’s here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jose-ramoshorta/reflections-on-a-visit-to_b_832671.html

39

Kim 03.10.11 at 1:15 pm

Ah, the “self-hating/loathing Jew”. Yes, he (or she) is absolutely essential to the propaganda so odiously represented by what PamBG has charitably referred to as David’s “Greek chorus” (BTW, why does the koryphaios remain in the wings?) For the equation anti-Semite = critic of Israeli policy to function, while goys may be uniformly dismissed as racist, Jewish critics must be said to suffer from a pathology. The logic is Orwellian.

Oh - and the FACTS - that’s also standard rhetorical equipment in the propagandist’s arsenal. Jeez, you guys must think visitors to this blog all have handles on their backs.

40

Kim 03.10.11 at 1:24 pm

Another “Oh”: Corin thinking that Richard deliberately chose a “nasty little picture” for her - well, that’s brilliant. Just brilliant. There’s a parable there.

41

Sceptique 03.10.11 at 1:55 pm

Response: It would indeed be deeply unchristian and anti-methodist, if it were true. But it isn’t.

Then why did the journey did not include talking to the “settlers”, talking to victims of “Palestinian” terrorism (in Sderot, you could find many), talking to all those Israelis who wanted only one thing: to live in peace and were denied that by organisations such as Hamas (a terrorist organisation elected democratically by “Palestinians”) and other Fatah-affiliated terrorist organisations such as PFLP and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades? Do Methodists think they know all about the conflict by talking only to one side? Is being one-sided Christian according to Methodists?
In front of all these evidences of double-standards, do you have only unsupported denials?

Response: I thought I was clear, but obviously my explanation has been lacking. I’m addressing a very particular point in this thread. I’m not saying that the trip was perfectly balanced: there’d be a convesation to be had about that, but to my mind it is a different conversation. The point I was and am addressing is this: David Hallam claimed on his blog that the President’s trip was organized (listen closely now) WITH THE INTENTION of stirring up anti-semitism within the Methodist Church. That’s a serious charge, completely unfounded. He isn’t simply saying that the itinerary was broad enough and didn’t allow the P & V-P to get the full picture. He goes beyond saying that the trip would offend Jews by the choices that were made in its planning. He said that the visit was “…clearly intended to generate yet more anti-Jewish sentiment within the Connexion”. He has no evidence of that intention, he merely makes the claim. And it isn’t true. That’s all there is to it.

42

zack 03.10.11 at 3:10 pm

Kim you post darkly about ‘hasbara’ and ‘the Israeli propaganda machine’ in reference to the two or three folk who comment on this thread, then you suggest Corin is being paranoid, she probably is mate, but you know don’t you think your hysterical hyperbole is a bit silly? I mean I thought you folk at least tried to appear rational these days, no wonder Dawkins is so popular.

43

Matt Pryor 03.10.11 at 3:29 pm

Do you know what? A lovely response to all of this would have been:

“We didn’t mean to offend anyone, and we certainly didn’t mean to cause offence within the Anglo-Jewish community. If we have, we are sorry. We realise that this is a highly sensitive subject and that feelings run deeply. Let’s talk about it.”

Instead of which, when I read comments like those of “Kim”, I just see an apparent determination to cause yet more offence.

Reply: No Matt. The proper response to “this” would have been for David Hallam to put up his hand and admit he mis-spoke. Because, as I keep saying, the “this” here is his accusation against the church. Which was, is now and (I hope and trust) ever shall be, utterly and completely unfounded.

44

Sceptique 03.10.11 at 3:50 pm

David Hallam claimed on his blog that the President’s trip was organized (listen closely now) WITH THE INTENTION of stirring up anti-semitism within the Methodist Church.

Maybe you didn’t notice but I never mentioned the name or re-used the assertions of David. The Methodist Church heads cannot be so simplistic as to ignore what this trip will provoque. Nothing is simple in the Middle East and the organisers knew pretty well that one-sidedness is problematic, to say the least, and disqualify them as partners of peace. Peace requires talking to everyone and understanding all the grievances and all the requirements. So the method used by the Methodist Church is wrong and will foster only antagonism, hate and anti-semitism. Intention or not, the result was foreseeable by all. So, in a way, David is right: it is intentional because ignorance is not a possible excuse.

Reply: Maybe you didn’t notice that if you want to talk about the wisdom, balance, naivete or anything else about the President’s trip, you’re in the wrong thread. The issue here is as I have stated over and over again. If you don’t want to talk about that, go somewhere else.

45

Offended Jew 03.10.11 at 5:01 pm

Hi Richard - I’ve gone …….

Richard says: Hwyl fawr

46

Avraham Reiss 03.10.11 at 5:30 pm

@Kim:
“Being-in-Christ has replaced being-in-the-land; or as that notorious anti-semite N.T. Wright puts it, “the world is the new Land.”

Well in that case, since you no longer require the Land of Israel, why don’t all Christians leave it, and leave us alone (Jews and Muslems) to solve our own problems?

World Jewry, for example, does not pass “resolutions” condemning
the Methodist Church for conducting expensive, wasteful and provocative tours of the Land of Israel for senior Methodist executives only, when the money would have been put to far better use feeding and clothing the poor.

Maybe we should start doing just that?

Richard says: I don’t know what I have to do to keep this thread on topic. It’s surely time to call it a day?

47

fat prophet 03.10.11 at 5:53 pm

At the risk of repeating myself I would have to say that the vast majority of Methodists will not know that this trip has taken place, will not know the content of the trip and sadly will not even know who Alison Tomlin and Eunice Attwood are, and possibly not even care.
If you don’t believe what I am putting forward pop into your local Methodist church this Sunday and ask the congregation if they know any of the above points - I will be very surprised if there are more than a couple who do.
Again at the risk of repeating what I have already said it may be the only people who know will those of us who look at the various Methodist blogs or read the Methodist Recored as I suspect there may be some mention in this weeks - not read it yet.

[Richard says: Presidents of Conference aren't normally well-known in the pews. Whether you think that matters or not is one of the debates that happens. But in this case, I think it's irrelevant - a serious allegation has been made against our church and regardless of how well-known the people involved are, it stinks.

48

fat prophet 03.10.11 at 5:54 pm

Should have said know any!

[Richard says: I've taken the liberty of making the correction for you, FP]

49

Avraham Reiss 03.10.11 at 6:07 pm

@fat prophet,
From what you say, it’s about time we did something about this. It is untenable that senior Methodist executives should appropriate Methodist Church funds for their own enjoyment, without a need for accountability. And also for performing political activities which are not neccessarily a majority opinion within the Methodist Church; I do believe what Richard has said in the past, that the Methodist Church per se is not anti-semitic.

As a Jew living in Israel, this is as much my business as is the Arab-Israeli conflict’s business of the average British Methodist, and I feel that I should bring this serious matter of suspicion of possible misappropriation of Methodist Church funds to the attention of a far wider public.

[Richard says: So now you want to add misappropriation of funds to the charges? Bring it on!]

50

Matt Pryor 03.10.11 at 6:09 pm

@Richard: Quite clearly this delegation did not care a fig for the rights, feelings or opinions of Jews living in Hebron or elsewhere and was in fact happy to slander them in its findings report. Quite clearly they don’t even count, since they are considered “illegals”. Therefore quite clearly the purpose, intention, desired result of the mission was to give succour to the people that wish to drive those Jews from their homes. This is an act of hostility, and “anti-Semitic” does not in my view go far enough to describe such an attitude. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the “policies of the Israeli government” - this is about peoples’ lives.

THAT is the situation as I see it, Mr Hall, and neither I nor David Hallam are the only people in the country that will see it like this. This is a highly emotive issue in the UK and I am flabbergasted that you and your cohorts on the Methodist blogosphere would treat peoples’ feelings on the matter with such casual indifference, even (in the case of “Kim”) to go as far as accusing those that post their objections of “propaganda”.

David Hallam is correct, and your blatant hostility towards him for speaking out is indeed quite telling.

51

Joseph W 03.10.11 at 6:25 pm

“I don’t know what I have to do to keep this thread on topic. It’s surely time to call it a day?”

Yes, but it’s sort of hard to discuss whether David Hallam is a terrible bloke or not, without talking about the specific issues he has raised.

[Richard says: This isn't about what sort of bloke David Hallam is. (I'll keep my own counsel on that, though he has been free with his opinion of me over the years) The issue is whether his allegation is reasonable or not.]

52

Sceptique 03.10.11 at 6:33 pm

Reply: Maybe you didn’t notice that if you want to talk about the wisdom, balance, naivete or anything else about the President’s trip, you’re in the wrong thread. The issue here is as I have stated over and over again. If you don’t want to talk about that, go somewhere else.

But I just talked about it and told that David is right: since ignorance of consequences cannot be an excuse, it is intentional.

53

Joseph W 03.10.11 at 6:37 pm

Don’t understand how “Sceptique”’s comment at 18:33 appeared before mine at 18:25.

54

Beth 03.10.11 at 6:40 pm

Richard,

I appreciate that you don’t want to believe that anyone involved in the planning of this trip could have had any ulterior motives. However, the fact that the trip was apparently biased in the way that many previous commenters on this thread have noted is very unfortunate. I can understand why people who are not as sympathetic to the Methodist Church as you are might see malice in this, coming on top of last year’s conference resolution. It might well look like a deliberate attempt to keep anti-Israeli feeling alive amongst Methodists. I’m not saying that was the intention - I don’t know enough about those involved to make such a judgement. But your argument against the claim seems to be simply “it is ridiculous”. To me, it doesn’t sound particularly ridiculous. It sounds perfectly plausible that a person (remember, these are not people I know) might behave in this way to advance their own political agenda. It would be ugly and un-Christian, certainly, but Christians do ugly and un-Christian things every day, just as Jews do ugly and unbiblical things, and Muslims do ugly and un-Quranic things.

My point is that if your only counter-argument is “this is ridiculous”, you are not going to persuade anyone. You need to show why it’s ridiculous.

[Richard says: You ask the impossible Beth. I can only speak of what I know of the methodist Church and its officers. We have a long history of inter-faith, which has often included Jews. The more I think about it, the more offensive David's words become. Whatever it might look like to someone outside Methodism, it beggars belief that one of our own preachers could make such a charge]

55

Avraham Reiss 03.10.11 at 7:03 pm

[Richard says: So now you want to add misappropriation of funds to the charges? Bring it on!]

My only source of knowledge on this matter is what I read here. My point is that if outsiders want to stick their noses in my business, then I’ll stick mine in theirs - and Jews, of course, have longer noses. And the truth is certainly irrelevant here, as long as people are talking about a fictitious “Palestine”.

56

Joseph W 03.10.11 at 7:22 pm

“The issue is whether his allegation is reasonable or not.”

So all the more reason to discuss the actual issues he raises then.

[Richard says: On the contrary. Making wild accusations of such evil rules you out of rational conversation in my book]

57

Kim 03.10.11 at 7:32 pm

Zack, if you knew anything about the agenda of the New Atheists you would know that it was just after 9/11 that their tyres really began to grip the road. That is, it is religious violence that gives their project prima facie public credibility - including the ongoing violence in Israel/Palestine. And not Islamic terrorism alone, nor Islamic terrorism itself reductively and inanely explained as “they hate our freedoms”. In fact, in one of the more significant and sophisticated analyses of contemporary religious violence, Terror in the Mind of God, Mark Juergensmeyer cogently argues that it is the failure of nations like the US - but not only the US - to confront injustices in the Middle East that fuels Islamic extremism - injustices, I would add, in the oil-rich Arab world, absolutely - full of bastards, but bastards that oil the US’s geopolitical and economic interests - but also in Israel, in its apartheid strangulation of the Palestinian people.

The point being that it is not my so-called irrationalism but, in part, Israeli abuses of human rights, violations of UN resolutions, etc. - and apologists for them like yourself - that make the arguments of Dawkins , Harris, and Hitchens look plausible.

58

Adam 03.10.11 at 7:38 pm

Kim, the anti-Semitism is apparent by holding Jews to standards the Church does not apply elsewhere.

The Mthodist Church is guilty of that - and it is very sad.

59

Joseph W 03.10.11 at 7:44 pm

I think it is impossible to know the intentions of the people organizing the Methodist trip, so it’s pointless speculating.

[Richard says: Precisely. Which is why I invited David to consider changing what he had written. He can't possibly justify his statement]

But I also think we can discuss the message the trip sends out - even if that message is unintended.

[Richard says: We could, but I don't want to. It's ground we've been over before]

Honestly, I don’t understand why the Methodist president chose to meet with Palestinian Arabs who shared her religious beliefs, and Jewish Israelis who shared her political beliefs.

What, specifically, is she hoping to achieve?

60

Joseph W 03.10.11 at 7:46 pm

“Israeli abuses of human rights, violations of UN resolutions, etc.”

But not a word on Libya.

61

Adam 03.10.11 at 7:49 pm

Kim - “apartheid strangulation”?

One who speaks like this is no longer interested in fairness or peace, and is bent on an agenda of vilifcation.

62

Joseph W 03.10.11 at 7:56 pm

We could, but I don’t want to

Fair enough. Other people do though.

[Richard says: And they're welcome to. Elsewhere.]

63

Avraham Reiss 03.10.11 at 8:14 pm

@Kim
“- but also in Israel, in its apartheid strangulation of the Palestinian people.”
Considering the fact that any Arab can walk freely anywhere in Israel, ride on any bus and sit in any restaurant or cinema, whereas an Israeli venturing by mistake into many West Bank Arab villages, and most certainly into Gaza, will be instantly murdered - all this, Kim, makes you a bare-faced liar.

You are an anti-semite, and you give other Methodists a bad name - I doubt if you represent many.

And by “Palestinian People”, did you mean ex-Jordanian or ex-Egyptian?

[Richard says: Kim doesn't represent any Methodists, not being one. (Nobody's perfect). But I really must warn you to keep the conversation civil. This kind of outburst doesn't advance anything]

64

Zack 03.10.11 at 8:21 pm

I have no interest in the agenda of the new atheists apart from the fact that Hitchens is very amusing speaker. However, being a socialist I am aware of the fantasy and conspiracy nonsense which has been the main tool of irrational right wingers since the Tsar was a nipper.

The fantastical and malevolent power of the jews has been used by every totalitarian yahoo since the dawning of time to deflect attention while they oppress their people and trouser the dough, currently the Saudis, Assad or Gaddafi are spouting that old mantra but the people aren’t believing it. Ironically Stephen Sizer, one of your lot I believe, has been suggesting Gaddafi is a Jew!

Sadly this kind of baloney is creeping into the vocabulary of supposed progressives. Whether it be Julian Assange’s Jewish journalists, or in fact your Israeli propaganda machine.

As for being an apologist for Israeli human rights abuses you couldn’t be further from the truth but it does the Palestinians no favours to pollute their legitimate grievances with reactionary European bigotry, attributing magical power to a tiny minority of people.

I understand you are American so your knowledge of Africa might be limited but the apartheid reference is shrill and hysterical. But by all means critcise the state of Israel but save your fairy stories for the pulpit.

65

Zack 03.10.11 at 8:30 pm

By the way I don’t want to be rude to anyone I’m not part of the ‘hasbara’ whatever that is!

66

Joseph W 03.10.11 at 8:37 pm

Kim, why is it so shocking for David Hallam to accuse the Methodist Church of anti-Semitism, but it is okay for you to accuse people of “torching the truth”, being “Orwellian”, and being “either stupid or malicious”?

If you think it is a terrible sin to ascribe bad faith to people you disagree with, then surely you should be consistent at least, and not do the same to others.

[Richard says: The knockabout of rhetoric in a blog thread is one thing. Making an accusation against officers of the church which, if true, ought to be matter of church discipline at the very least, is quite another. But I think we're done here now. If Kim wants to respond to recent comments, he's welcome to. Any other comments are likely to be deleted according to my whim. Don't grumble about censorship. My blog, my rules.]

67

Joseph W 03.10.11 at 8:59 pm

“Any other comments are likely to be deleted according to my whim. Don’t grumble about censorship. My blog, my rules.”

Okay, that’s how you feel. Thankyou for being candid.

68

Offended Jew 03.10.11 at 9:41 pm

So the discussion closes - just as i am back!

Can I leave you with this? -

Al and Eun seemed to have vacuumed their site completely erasing any mention of my comments and the fact that they were subsequently deleted so….I never existed? There’s replacement theology for you! Presumably they felt very uncomfortable with the truth

Interestingly - they also seem to have subsequently altered their identity criteria leaving only two options (Google Account or OpenID)

perhaps they will also rescind or alter the resolution?

69

Corin Keiler-Lloyd 03.11.11 at 12:21 am

Just for Kim, who is a bloke. Corin is a bloke’s name. The feminine is Corine/Corinne/Corina/Corrina see

Corin is Spear - Quirinius. Corinne is believed to be Greek and a form of Cora - maiden

Quite Freudian, really.

And I’ve noticed that the avatars seem to be less discriminate than they were. And the parable , ‘Miss’ Kim, is about drawing conclusions?

70

Corin Keiler-Lloyd 03.11.11 at 12:24 am

The link was removed. Not familiar with WordPress. Guess I’m just not familiar with the whole of the Interweb ;-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corin

Or Google it.

71

Beth 03.11.11 at 9:00 am

“Whatever it might look like to someone outside Methodism, it beggars belief that one of our own preachers could make such a charge.”

On that point, I agree with you entirely. It seems to me that the real issue here is with David Hallam’s attitude towards his church. If he really believes it to be institutionally racist, which he appears to do, then he needs to put his money where his mouth is and take it to court. If he is unwilling to substantiate his allegations, I think the church should be taking him to court for defamation.

72

Bene D 03.11.11 at 9:05 am

Corin:

We’re all new to something on the Interwebs at some time, I run WP blogs and I’m woefully unfamiliar with many of the features.

I find avatars are really helpful in scrolling through long comment threads such as this one.

I rather like the one that picked you - the glasses are fun and quite stylish don’t you think?

73

Richard 03.11.11 at 9:14 am

He’s threatened legal action before, appearing in the national press last October. As far as I know, that hasn’t come to anything yet. (I’ve really no idea how long these things take, but to my way of thinking if you make a threat through a national newspaper you ought to have a writ ready to serve. But maybe that’s just me) But it seems to me that what he’s said now is much more serious: that an individual or group set out with the intention of increasing hatred of Jews.

Truthfully, I don’t think he really believes that. If he did, he would be bringing charges. He mis-spoke, and can’t bring himself to admit it.

74

Tony Buglass 03.11.11 at 9:37 am

“Al and Eun seemed to have vacuumed their site completely erasing any mention of my comments and the fact that they were subsequently deleted so….I never existed? There’s replacement theology for you! Presumably they felt very uncomfortable with the truth”

Just for the record, I doubt Alison and Eunice have anything to do with the editing of the blog. It was set up a couple of years ago for the current President and Vice-President to record their observations as they travel. It is probably edited by someone at Methodist Church House, and the comments will be allowed or removed according to agreed criteria. I suspect that debate, question, or challenge will be allowed, but personal attack or abuse will not.

Also for the record, I have known both Alison and Eunice for years. Neither is racist or anti-Semitic. You may choose to believe they have been manipulated by whoever arranged their visit - I don’t think either is quite so subsceptible to manipulation.

75

Kim 03.11.11 at 10:09 am

Re. #73: Mr. David Hallam, plaintiff, as shrewd as a snake, has said nothing. Why? Probably because grinding his organ is quite sufficient, but perhaps also because THIS POST AND THE ENSUING THREAD IS BEING TAKEN DOWN AND WILL BE USED AS EVIDENCE.

76

Offended Jew 03.11.11 at 10:54 am

evidence of what?
your vitriol?

77

Richard 03.11.11 at 11:00 am

*sigh*

78

Offended Jew 03.11.11 at 11:05 am

for once i agree with Richard!

79

PamBG 03.11.11 at 11:08 am

Truthfully, I don’t think he really believes that. If he did, he would be bringing charges. He mis-spoke, and can’t bring himself to admit it.

This sort of thing seems to happen often with David. The next post on his blog was a far more measured (for him) post basically accusing the parties involved of naivete and sins of omission. But I think that when David mis-speaks we often see what it is that he really believes. When a person continually accuses other people, without evidence, of the kind of outrageous thoughts and actions that David does, we see the level of their own hatred which is being projected on to other people. I’m quite prepared to believe that there are things the church is being naive about. I’m quite prepared to believe the old adage that we are all unconsciously racist (but this also then includes the members of “minority” groups). I also believe that David thinks he’s been personally dissed by the church and that, in his heart, he does believe all the outrageous things that he lets slip.

In terms of knowing people personally per Beth’s comment way up the thread, I know a number of individuals personally in Church House, some very well, some just in passing. I believe that the people I know would, as a knee-jerk reaction, take a bullet if they thought a Jewish individual were going to be harmed and certainly would not shoot it. That’s one of the big reasons I don’t believe these conspiracy theories. But, of course, you could simply accuse me of being part of the international conspiracy for the downfall of Jewry. In terms of evidence of vitriol, there is plenty on both sides.

80

Matt Pryor 03.11.11 at 11:12 am

Tony Buglass:

This is what I posted on the President/Vice President blog - judge for yourself if you think it’s “abusive”, or in any way offensive:

———————————————————————————–

Why have comments by “Offended Jew” and myself been removed? Why did my comment not even get published? Are people not allowed a right of reply?

I have no doubt that you won’t see fit to publish this either, but I will say it anyway because I know you’ll read it.

Your Palestinian tour guide accused the local Jewish population of some horrendous things. Not only did you believe these accusations at face value, without questioning them, but you also saw fit to broadcast those accusations to the world, knowing full well how this will affect peoples’ perceptions.

Spreading ill tidings about any group of people in this manner is objectionable and frankly un-Christian. It is especially objectionable to do it to Jews, when very recent history shows exactly where this kind of slander leads.

Jewish “settlers” are among some of the poorest in Israel. You may not like where they choose to live, you may consider them “illegals”, and you may disapprove of their beliefs - but they have a right to a voice just like anyone else.

This is the heart of the conflict - a dispute over land between Jews and non-Jews. If you are going to claim that you are searching for the “truth” then at least listen to both sides of the argument. Jews have plenty of grievances about their treatment as well.

If, on the other hand, this was a mission to show solidarity with Palestinian non-Jews, then at least be honest about it to yourselves and to your peers.

81

Matt Pryor 03.11.11 at 11:14 am

And, I would also like to say a big “Thank You” to Richard Hall for accommodating me on his blog and allowing me to have my say. I realise it’s been trying.

82

Richard 03.11.11 at 11:29 am

Matt - I don’t think any blog owner has to justify themselves when it comes to editing or removing comments. Commenters are guests, and an invitation to comment is to extend a privilege, not a right. David jumps to the conclusion that someone has decided to censor Jews (he’s accused me of the same thing!) but that’s most unlikely. Apart from anything else, I don’t know of any way of telling the religious affiliation of a commenter. (OK, so there are some names that give a bit of a clue butt you know what I’m saying) My guess is that something in your comment — either in what was said, or the way it was said — just didn’t ’sit right’ with the blog’s editor and so s/he exercised the function of an editor — and edited.

83

Matt Pryor 03.11.11 at 11:37 am

Well, I don’t think it was offensive, therefore I can only conclude that it was because they (whoever “they” are) didn’t agree with me or didn’t want people to read what I had to say. That in itself should cause you discomfort, shouldn’t it? It does me.

I also read “Offensive Jew”’s post (before it was taken down). It was lengthy, factual (yes facts, or “propaganda” in Kim-speak), and polite. As all his (or her) comments have been here.

84

Richard 03.11.11 at 12:02 pm

But what you think is irrelevant, Matt. It’s the editor’s job to edit and whether they approve comments or not is down to them. Nobody ever gets it right all the time, but I repeat what I said before: commenting on a blog is a privilege. Blog owners have to be free to withdraw that.

85

Matt Pryor 03.11.11 at 12:24 pm

I would like you to perform a thought experiment and turn this around Richard. Pretend that I made a blog stating that Methodists go around throwing acid / bleach / urine at people, and I made the blog in an official capacity as a leader of some well-respected religious organisation.

a) Would it be a fair assumption to say that I clearly didn’t like Methodists much?
b) Would you expect a right of reply, and would you consider that a “right” or a “privilege”?
c) If I denied you that right of reply, and removed your comments questioning what I wrote, would this reinforce the assumption made in point a) ?

86

fat prophet 03.11.11 at 1:32 pm

I can not believe that this debate is still rumbling on with no apparent light at the end of the tunnel.
I was under the impression that the Presidents and Vice Presidents blog was more of a reporting mechanism for the activities, visits etc that they are involved in and I have to say it has been an interesting journey over the time it has been running.
What I don’t see it as and what it perhaps should never be is a place for argument and debate around any particular topic. In respect of Alison and Eunice replying to comments made it may not be appropriate for this to happen given that serious allegations have been made and it may be that legal counsel is being sought in respect of the allegations.
I note that there is talk of a right of reply from Matt but given that the blog post was reporting on a visit and not making a statement I find it difficult to see the argument for a right to reply. If the post had been headed ‘Statement by the President and Vice President’ or some similar way I could understand that there may be a reason to suggest a right of reply.
My biggest fear in all of this would be that future leaders become reluctant to post about their activities in this way and the Methodist church loses what has been an extremely interesting method of keeping us informed.

87

Richard 03.11.11 at 2:10 pm

Thanks for that FP: I meant to say in my previous comment that it is important to remember what the purpose of the President’s blog — which as you say is more about journalling the Presidential year than debate or argument. I too would be very disappointed if this latest spat were to put them off blogging. It has been a very useful way of help us to keep up with what the President and Vice-President get up to.

Matt: The terms of your experiment are incorrect. If the story on the President’s blog had been “Jews throw urine at people” I would have started a complaint myself, but that isn’t what was said. Referring to a particular street in which Jewish settlers live above Arab shops — not such a far-fetched notion as our friend David sneeringly thinks — “the metal grids are to prevent the objects which are thrown down by Jewish settlers from hurting Palestinians. Apparently urine used to be poured out of windows but currently bleach is preferred thus destroying the goods for sale below.’ That’s a most unpleasant thing to report, but it isn’t saying anything about Jews as Jews. It’s a report of what one group of people are alleged to have done to another. David calls it a defamatory urban myth (though you can only prove defamation if you can identify the individuals who are being defamed) but this isn’t the only place I’ve heard the story, I’ve seen photographs of the metal grill above the street (empty in the President’s blog photo) to be full of rubbish presumably thrown from above, and read accounts from folk who have seen damaged goods in those shops. It isn’t a story that I want to be true, and if it is it should have no impact on inter-faith cooperation between Methodists and Jews. We both know that it is terrifyingly easy to get people of any race, creed or colour to behave very badly towards one another.

88

Offended Jew 03.11.11 at 2:11 pm

i have to agree with Matt’s very reasoned argument - and quite frankly it is perhaps one thing to suggest that Richard or David can exercise their own censorship or not in respect of their own blogs - it is quite another when the leadership (and one that I assume is held in high regard) clearly doesn’t like what it reads and summararily “zaps” it into cyberspace!

With the exception, of course, of editing out foul or deliberately malicious comment, of which both Matt’s and my own postings were not guilty, this is dictatorial behaviour and is akin to the type of thought policing that dictators across the Middle East have always pursued (unlike democratic Israel). I do not expect that sort of behaviour from the leadership of a free church any more than i would not expect it from free and elected leaderships such as 10 downing’s blog, or other religious leaderships’ blogs such as the Chief Rabbinate.

by the way - did you read Jose Ramos Horta’s article - this is exactly an example of the type of balance that your leaders need to learn if they want to promote co-existence and dialogue and, by the way, it would earn them the right to be treated with respect by all parties. I certainly don’t agree with all of Ramos Horta’s views, but I respect him for his balance and his desire to genuinely learn and modestly offer his own thoughts.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jose-ramoshorta/reflections-on-a-visit-to_b_832671.html

and yes, i know, we have strayed from the narrow topic you had set, but, for what it’s worth, I add my voice to David’s for the reasons i have exhaustively set out in previous posts. The trip was planned to strengthen the effect of the conference resolution, it was as partisan, if not more so, than the conference resolution, and it’s intention was to single out Israel, up the biased criticism of Israel and therefore it is Anti-Semitic! So you can sue me as well!

Sadly, and all the more so after having been zapped and excised from their blog, there can be no other explanation for the singular singling out of the Jewish state for its perceived evil, especially with so much else to see, hear and witness in Israel and Judea / Samaria - not to mention the concurrent neighbouring earthquakes across the entire region!

89

Offended Jew 03.11.11 at 2:21 pm

to the fat prophet (or is it profit? only a joke!)

what you are suggesting is actually akin to an official newsletter full of what the leader did today and what they ate for breakfast.etc. online or otherwise. It could even solicit “letters to the leader” from readers and edit out whatever it doesn’t want you to read.

BUT …this blog of theirs, whatever the intention, is most definately a Statement as it is written in their own words and (I assume) not even passed by an editor. what else can it be?

i have met someone who tells me that someone told him that the fat prophet is actually thin. But hey, I’m the leader so you can’t post any contradiction - you can only whinge on Richard’s or David’s or someone else’s blog.

see what i mean?

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Richard 03.11.11 at 2:25 pm

I’m afraid I have to disagree with you about the President’s blog, OJ. It is in effect an official organ of the Methodist Church, and it’s function is to inform the Methodist people about what our President and Vice-President get up to during their year. And it’s editor is absolutely right to control what gets posted there.

Yes, I read the Huffington Post article. I found it helpful.

91

Offended Jew 03.11.11 at 2:32 pm

your call Richard - it’s your church and your organ (so to speak)

I wonder how the membership was informed prior to the discovery of Cyberspace

ps - get the leaders to read that article too! If they have any sense of humility then the lesson in balance just might help navigate them back from the brink!

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Matt Pryor 03.11.11 at 4:30 pm

Richard: People judge Jews as a group when it comes to reprisals. Surely you must know this. Why else do anti-Semitic attacks in the UK and elsewhere in Europe increase when Israel is involved in conflict? The statistics bear this out. In the US hate crime reports, attacks against Jews and Jewish places of worship are by far the most prevalent. What do they do to deserve this?

Slanders / libel against Jews - any Jews - have a direct and often lethal consequence on other Jews. This is something which is not true of any other people. That is why it is all the more important to verify such extremely serious accusations before repeating them. Failure to do so is anti-Semitic. This is even more important when the alleged perpetrators are nameless, faceless “settlers”, who people can freely despise and blame for all the world’s problems without any pangs of conscience.

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Richard 03.11.11 at 4:48 pm

No one perpetrating violence against Jews will get any comfort from the Methodist Church, Matt. Clearly Alison and Eunice believed what they had been told, and whatever you may think, their reputations don’t suggest that they’re particularly gullible. Suppose what they reported is true. Should they not have told it?

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Kim 03.11.11 at 5:15 pm

Slanders / libel against Jews - any Jews - have a direct and often lethal consequence on other Jews. This is something which is not true of any other people.

Er, Muslims, Matt?

It is certainly, horribly true that there are people who viciously attack Jews due to the politics of Israel. That is nauseatingly reprehensible, and no doubt evidences virulent anti-Semitism (not to mention extraordinary stupidity). It is also true that there are people who viciously attack Mulsims, particularly in the wake of 9/11. That too is reprehensible, and no doubt evidences virulent Islamophobia. In relation to the latter, I am quite sure that there is no one here who would conclude that, therefore, one should not denounce Islamic extremism - and such denunciation does not make one an Islamophobe. Similarly, in relation to the former, it cannot mean that one, therefore, refrains from criticising Israel - and such criticism does not make one an anti-Semite. In all cases it is morally essential that one does not bear false witness, i.e., engage in slander or libel. I do not think that such an accusation against the Methodist Chruch can be sustained. Speaking locally, I do not think that such an accusation against Richard or myself can be sustained. If I were to make a larger case against Israeli policy and actions in relation to the Palestinian people and appeal to sources, they would include, e.g. (in alphabetical order), Amnesty International, Noam Chomsky, Christian Aid, Robert Fisk, Ilan Pappé, John Pilger, Edward Said, Avi Shlaim, … Are they all deliberately mendacious and deeply anti-Semitic? I think not. And if push comes to shove, I am glad to be in their company.

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Matt Pryor 03.11.11 at 5:27 pm

My opinion? Unless they were also going to relate the bad experiences Jewish residents have of their neighbours (which they can’t, since they apparently didn’t speak to any of them), I would say no. Even then I don’t see how such reports further the cause of peace. If anything it just fuels the hatred.

Violence against Jewish residents in Arab-majority areas is fairly endemic in that part of the world, by the way. But nobody seems particularly interested in that.

Why do you think that would be?

96

Matt Pryor 03.11.11 at 6:07 pm

Kim:

The evidence does not support your statement. Just because you say something that does not make it true. Attacks against Jews and Jewish property constitute by far the largest number of religiously-motivated crimes in the west, in spite of there only being less than 20 million Jews in the entire world (about a third of whom live in Israel). These are the FBI’s statistics for 2009:

Of the 1,575 victims of an anti-religious hate crime:

71.9 percent were victims because of an offender’s anti-Jewish bias.
8.4 percent were victims because of an anti-Islamic bias.

http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2009/victims.html

And with respect, following your earlier comments on this thread, none of which have been particularly pleasant, I will refrain from engaging with you further about the Arab-Israel conflict as you clearly have fairly entrenched views on the topic. I’d rather keep my good mood.

Wishing everyone a pleasant, peaceful weekend, and thank you all for your time.

97

Joseph W 03.11.11 at 6:13 pm

Yeah but the US government is run by Jews Zionists, so they would say that wouldn’t they ;)

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fat prophet 03.11.11 at 7:18 pm

I feel I must offer some information to help readers - the fat prophet is indeed ‘fat’ currently at 21 stones having lost 2 stone in the last twelve months so perhaps I am a shadow of my former self and some may even say ‘thin’ given the weight loss so far - it is still ongoing so who knows I may have to change my nom de plume. (Doctor would like to see me down below 18 stone at least)
In respect of my comments about the Presidential blog I stand by what I said in that my view is it was more to provide a way other than the Methodist Recorder to communicate what the Presidential team are up to.
I note the dissatisfaction with not being able to post comments but I suggest it may be because the blog was set up with a very definite purpose and that allowing comment and debate in the way suggested by a number of commenter’s here and in other places was not in any way shape or form part of the purpose of the blog.
I think I would also re-iterate that serious accusations have been made by a member of the Methodist Church against the leaders of the Methodist Church and in my opinion it would not be appropriate to enter into a debate on the issues via the blogosphere in case there should be further disciplinary or legal action that might follow and which may be prejudiced by indulging in such activity.
I would have to say that like Richard and many other bloggers I do reserve the right to edit comments on my blog that I believe to be against the ethos of the blog, however I have to be honest I have been very fortunate so far in that I don’t seem to have upset anyone badly enough to get any adverse reaction.

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Kim 03.11.11 at 7:19 pm

Matt, you say “The evidence does not support my statement”, and then you give some statistics about hate-crimes against Jews and Muslims from the FBI. But my statement says nothing about statistics. It makes claims about the depravity of violent acts against both Jews and Muslims whatever the numbers. In the UK hate crimes against both Jews and Muslims are on the increase. Crimes against Jews doubled in the wake of the Israeli attacks on Gaza in 2008. Crimes against Muslims increased over five-fold in the wake of the 7/7 London bombings. The anti-Semitic BNP, surrealistically, is now actually trying to attract Jews by vilifying Islam. My “statement” is that all these acts are contemptible and condemnable. Do we have a disagreement here?

100

Joseph W 03.11.11 at 7:21 pm

“The anti-Semitic BNP, surrealistically, is now actually trying to attract Jews by vilifying Islam.”

They’re not doing a very good job of attracting Jews:
http://www.zcc.org.uk/site/node/80

101

Kim 03.11.11 at 7:36 pm

I just discovered the following in my email, forwarded to me by a British colleague:

U.S. Representative Peter King (R-NY), who once said 85% of American Muslim community leaders are “an enemy living amongst us,” is set to hold hearings today to investigate “the extent of radicalization of American Muslims.” The idea of hearings that single out one ethnic or religious group in the United States is profoundly offensive to me as a Jew, a Rabbi, an American, and a human being. These hearings come on the heels of a string of shockingly racist attacks and campaigns against Muslims in the United States including:

Villa Park Councilwoman Deborah Pauly in Orange County, who called a fundraiser for womens’ shelters sponsored by the Islamic Circle of North America Relief USA(ICNA) “pure unadulterated evil” and said, “I know quite a few Marines who will be very happy to help these terrorists to an early meeting in paradise.”

Efforts to stop the building of mosques and Muslim community centers around the country.

The District Attorney’s unprecedented criminalization of Muslim students in Orange County for engaging in a garden-variety student protest.

It is painful to see some Jewish groups promoting this hatred and fear because they mistakenly believe it will help Israel. It is also deeply distressing to see this disturbing trend of scapegoating Muslim-Americans being echoed at the highest levels of our government.

Every fiber of our being, as Jews and people of good will, should vibrate with astonishment at these incidents. But if we view this spectacle with “old eyes,” as Rabbi Leo Baeck observed upon witnessing the events in 1930s Germany, we must acknowledge that we know this place and time in history from our own experience.

For Jews, viewing the creation of a national narrative about Muslims as “the harmful other” reminds us of our past in Europe in ancient Egypt, and even in early 20th Century America. By trying to assign Muslim-Americans and Islam to the role of the source of evil, they inflame passions and add enmity not only to the American discourse but also to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In this season of change in the Middle East, as people call for freedom, democracy and equality– largely inspired by the promise of our own democracy– we should be seeking to build bridges of understanding, not separation.

Rabbi Haim Dov Beliak
Member, Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinic Council
Founder, Jews On First

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Joseph W 03.11.11 at 8:18 pm

Sorry Kim, but no-one’s said anything here about launching inquiries into American Muslim communities about perceived extremism. No-one’s saying we should demonise or be suspicious of Muslims.

What most people are saying is: Methodists should take into consideration Jewish sensitivities and concerns when debating Israel-Palestine.

I don’t really see the connection between what “some Jewish groups” are doing in the USA and people concerned about antisemitism in the Methodist Church.

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Kim 03.11.11 at 10:37 pm

What most people are saying is: Methodists should take into consideration Jewish sensitivities and concerns when debating Israel-Palestine.

That begs the question, Joseph. And who are these “most people”?

In any case, my last couple of comments have been about trying to see the bigger picture.

But with Richard, I’m done here. Have a good Sabbath - and then have another one! Shalom.

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Joseph W 03.11.11 at 10:53 pm

As in most people who are taking the time to comment on the issue and disagreeing with you - not most people in the world or even most people on Connexions.

I agree, we should try to see the bigger picture always. I also agree we’re all humans first and foremost before we’re Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Never hurts to remind ourselves of that.

Thanks! In for a bumper Shabbat as ever ;)

You too!

105

Avraham Reiss 03.12.11 at 5:45 pm

“What most people are saying is: Methodists should take into consideration Jewish sensitivities and concerns when debating Israel-Palestine.”

Methodists have no business debating Middle East issues at all, they are really none of their business.

Unless of course, you examine the underlying reason: establishment of the State of Israel is a death-blow to the Christian theory of “the Wandering Jew”, punished for eternity for killing Christ. (Regardless of the fact that crucifixion was NEVER a Jewish form of punishment).

But then, we are all civilised people, and mustn’t dirty the waters by publishing our failures, so we use “humanitarian” reasons instead.

Last night in Israel, “palestinian” Hamas terrorists murdered an Israeli father, mother and three small children, all stabbed to death, the youngest a four year old girl.

You Methodists, by supporting their lies, by lying yourselves , have some of their blood on your hands.

106

Avraham Reiss 03.12.11 at 5:52 pm

Correction to my previous post:
The youngest child to be stabbed to death by “palestinians” was a four month old baby girl.

107

fat prophet 03.12.11 at 8:36 pm

I do have a large degree of sympathy with what Avraham is saying about Methodist not debating what goes on in the middle east or for that matter in many other parts of the world.
The difficulty I think thought is that in these days of super quick communication we now live in a a global village scenario and because news like coffee can be instant we tend to take more interest in the bigger picture than we may have done when it took news days or even weeks to get to us.
I suspect that part of the issue in the debate here on Connexions is that it was kicked off by a Methodist Local Preacher who made what many will believe to be serious allegations about the leadership of the Methodist Church and this was challenged as one might expect and has been by a number of people. The difficulty then is that the other issues came into that debate and as the topic widened there were a whole range of other views that came in.
I have been very careful in what I have said to not comment on a situation I know very little about and have little understanding of - perhaps that is sometimes the best policy.

108

Avraham Reiss 03.12.11 at 9:06 pm

“The difficulty I think thought is that in these days of super quick communication we now live in a a global village scenario and because news like coffee can be instant we tend to take more interest in the bigger picture than we may have done when it took news days or even weeks to get to us.”

All true, but not one Methodist here has expressed sorrow for the earthquake in New Zealand, the many deaths in Libya, and - as a descendant of prophets I now prophecy - nobody here will give a fig about the devastation in Japan.

But Jews? Ah, that’s different. We must pass resolutions condemning them wherever possible, and thus indirectly express support and encouragement for terrorists.

109

PamBG 03.12.11 at 10:10 pm

All true, but not one Methodist here has expressed sorrow for the earthquake in New Zealand, the many deaths in Libya, and - as a descendant of prophets I now prophecy - nobody here will give a fig about the devastation in Japan.

This is a load of crap. Where have you expressed any sorrow for any of these events? And if you have not set the example here, why do you hold others to a standard that you yourself are not willing to demonstrate? Oh, the entirety of your life doesn’t centre around this blog, perhaps? Well neither does mine.

Where have you even bothered to participate in any conversations on this blog except to constantly repeat that you believe others here hate you?

Where have you demonstrated that you think any of us are even human beings rather than grotesque moral monsters?

You really believe, do you, that the clergy on this board joined the church to dedicate themselves to antiSemitism and to projecting out into all Creation lack of concern and even hatred for the human race,?

Again, when a person attributes such strong negative emotions to other people without evidence, he is betraying the hatred in his own soul.

110

Tony Buglass 03.12.11 at 10:28 pm

“…establishment of the State of Israel is a death-blow to the Christian theory of “the Wandering Jew”, punished for eternity for killing Christ. (Regardless of the fact that crucifixion was NEVER a Jewish form of punishment).”

Avraham, I know that I haven’t been in a position to see things from the point of view of a Jew, or an Israeli, and I know it must look differently when you see all Christians as being part of this vast amorphous body which has been behind the sufferings of the Jewish people over centuries, but I have to say - what you offer in this is a load of caricatured bilge.

I dare say some Christians may cling to some sort of idea of ‘the wandering Jewish Christ-killer” but most people don’t. Most of the Christians I know are like myself - we have a certain bias towards Israel because the Hebrew Bible is our Old Testament. The medieval views of ‘Christ-killers’ condemned by God is a long way from what most Christians think today - and I dare say Israel’s most vocal and wealthy supporters in the USA are evangelical Christians. You’ve already said that as far as you’re concerned Methodists are a transient irrelevance for Israel - as you wish. But please don’t seek to justify that by reference to outdated caricatures born out of idiocies from long ago.

As to expressing sorrow for NZ, Libya, Japan - they have been and will be in our prayers, whatever has or has not been said on this blog. Richard is a colleague in ministry, and we’ve met and enjoyed each other’s company, but he won’t mind me saying that this blog is far from being the centre of the Methodist world (and despite David Hallam’s frequent accusations, isn’t even semi-official, any more than the egroup I run for Methodist ministers), and even further from being the centre of the lives of those of us who visit and comment. The disasters in other parts of the world haven’t been relevant to the topics under discussion, that’s all. Unless you think the tsunami is likely to reach Tel Aviv…

111

Tony Buglass 03.12.11 at 10:39 pm

“(Regardless of the fact that crucifixion was NEVER a Jewish form of punishment).”

Oh, yes - I was going to add - those of us who study the Bible knew that already. We do know that Dt.21:22 refers to hanging someone on a tree after they have been executed, rather than executing them by hanging them on a tree. The connection usually drawn is in the implied curse of capital sin.

Christians have always known that, while it was the Jewish leadership which condemned Jesus to death, it was the Roman authorities who crucified him. Both Jewish and Gentile authorities were implicated in his death. The label “Christ-killers” was always a caricature, an excuse used by Christian authorities for the persecution of Jewish communities. It was and is unjustifiable. My own apology for the sins of my co-religionists is probably meaningless, but it is nevertheless real - I am horrified by what I read of what we have done to you over the centuries.

Nevertheless, if I am to be open to the judgment of truth over the way Christians have treated Jews, I suggest Jews must also be open to the same judgment over their response to us and their treatment of others. Whether we will ever achieve that degree of openness and honesty is a big question.

112

Tony Buglass 03.12.11 at 10:42 pm

Just to clarify - I have just added two comments, the first of which has been held over for moderation (no idea why, but the system knows best - or thinks it does), and the second passed without demur. Let’s see how much sense it makes when it eventually appears online.

113

Avraham Reiss 03.12.11 at 10:47 pm

“You really believe, do you, that the clergy on this board joined the church to dedicate themselves to antiSemitism and to projecting out into all Creation lack of concern and even hatred for the human race,? ”

Certainly not; in your terminology “that’s a load of crap”.
The Methodist Church to the best of my knowledge has no history of anti-semitism - but as soon as the “Palestinian” issue was brought in by one person - it was jumped on and adopted like a long, lost friend.
Tells you something about the direction the Methodist Church is now taking. As does the program of the tour being discussed here. I’m talking about what actually took place, not intentions. To visit Israel - and to ignore Jews - is a statement.

“Again, when a person attributes such strong negative emotions to other people without evidence, he is betraying the hatred in his own soul”
- You took that from the Jewish Talmud. And Jews certainly have plenty to hate Christians for - without 2,000 years of anti-semitism hitler would have been laughed out of his first beer-hall.

However, Richard is very liberal in allowing me to express many strong sentiments here, and I am not trying to express here any hatred that I would be entitled to express elsewhere.

114

PamBG 03.13.11 at 12:16 am

You took that from the Jewish Talmud.

Depends what you mean. I didn’t know the Talmud said that but I respect the wisdom of the Talmud. I took that from psychological theory and from my observations both as a Chaplain and as an adult human being.

And Jews certainly have plenty to hate Christians for

In my experience, to hate an individual who one does not know simply because of their identity - be it as a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, an Arab, a Japanese (my Korean colleague would claim the same traditional justification to hate the Japanese that you claim) or whatever - is an act that hurts the hater more than the hated.

Does Christian society have to own up to antisemitism? Yes. Do you have some kind of divine right to hate Christians? You can do as you like but I believe that it’s going to hurt you more than it will hurt me. And your hatred is more likely to make me dig in my heels than it is to change me.

This is actually a great example here. I’ll speak only for myself but I suspect that it’s true for many individuals here (e.g. Richard, Kim, Tony B, to name just a few). I do not want to hate. I do not want to be an antisemite. I do want to be aware of any unconscious racism or bias that I might have. But come at me with the sort of utterly hyperbolic, totally outrageous claims that David and many of the other individuals here have made and, by gum, I’m going to dig in my heels at the untruth of that.

But I suspect that there are a number of individuals here who would much prefer us to be scapegoats than good-willed, fallible human beings. I think we are being objectified and hated in the same way that we are being accused of doing.

115

Richard 03.13.11 at 7:08 am

That’s well put as ever, Pam.

Thank you, Avraham for acknowledging that you have been given your voice. I have to say that some of your comments have tested my liberal comments policy to its limit: what you said about New Zealand and Japan, for example, was outrageous — and that is only the tip of an unpleasant iceberg. But there’s no need to dwell on that. I’m content that, whatever may have been said elsewhere, I have kept the agreement I have with myself to allow commenters here to have their say even when I find what they say disagreeable.

You might be right that Methodists in Britain have no right to be speking about Israel. I disagree, of course, but I accept the possibility. But if you’re right, you shouldn’t go around encouraging us to talk about it! I remind you that in this thread, Israel was the ‘back issue’. After all, we’ve been over and over the Conference Report in the past, probably generating much more heat than light. My purpose in this thread, as I’ve said dozens of times by now, was to raise the way another Methodist blogger was speaking about the Methodist Church. I posted it only after raising the issue with the other blogger directly and, not having made any progress, felt unable to let it stand.

There’s more to say, but I mustn’t. I’m leading worship three times today so I’d better get on.

116

fat prophet 03.13.11 at 8:37 am

I really do have to say that Avraham is very unfair in the assumptions he has made about what my thoughts or views might be on the tragic events in New Zealand and Japan and recently in Australia and the situation in Libya and many other places in the world.
I think that the thread here is essentially about a particular topic (or possibly two) and throwing in other things merely (in my opinion) makes the waters rather muddy as we say where I live.
Sadly it appears that Avraham has a particular axe to grind and resorts to trying to score points by accusing others of having no interest in what is happening globally - how apart from where we make comments here can he possibly know what I or any other person commenting here think or believe any more that I know what he thinks or believes (except on one topic).
I am sorry to say that his approach on this one will make me less likely to read his comments in future and has really been very counter productive.
Any way must go as I too am leading worship this morning in which we will certainly be turning out thoughts to Japan, New Zealand and other places where chaos and darkness seem to be the order of the day.

117

Richard 03.13.11 at 8:58 am

Thanks FP. Hope your service goes well. Let’s try to keep Ivory Coast in our prayers, too. The suffering of those without strategic importance is sadly easily forgotten.

But not, of course, by God.

118

Avraham Reiss 03.13.11 at 12:57 pm

“Sadly it appears that Avraham has a particular axe to grind and resorts to trying to score points by accusing others of having no interest in what is happening globally”

My point is/was the proportion of relating to the Israeli/Arab conflict by Methodists, relative to other “hot” subjects on the international scene.

And quite frankly, until I mentioned the other trouble-spots, neither did any one else.

I don’t have any axe to grind; after 2,000 years Jews no longer have to fear Christians. I do have the right to look back in anger, but believe me it occupies only the amount of time it takes me to type these words.

As for Pam not wanting to live with hatred - neither do I. But Israel TV, as I type this, is broadcasting the funerals of 5 members of a family massacred Friday night by one of your “palestinians”.

Jews do NOT turn the other cheek. We have a saying: “the revenge of a small child has not yet been created by the devil”.

119

Richard 03.13.11 at 1:06 pm

>>”And quite frankly, until I mentioned the other trouble-spots, neither did any one else”

Not true.

120

Avraham Reiss 03.13.11 at 1:18 pm

Richard,
“You might be right that Methodists in Britain have no right to be speking about Israel”

I don’t think I said “no right” - and if I did say that, I retract it here. I would expect any religion to relate to aspects of moral behaviour, and I don’t think that there’s enough of it today. When you tour Europe and see what beauty was invested centuries back in building churches and in creating religious music and art, you see that society once placed great investments in religion.

Today all this has been replaced by - business.

And in such a commercial society, I feel that the proportion of time afforded to Israel is way beyond its proportional representation in the world.

If anyone asks me to, I will say where I think this will lead - and hint here that my view is apocalyptal.

121

Richard 03.13.11 at 1:45 pm

“No right” was my paraphrase. What you said was “Methodists have no business debating Middle East issues at all, they are really none of their business. “ I think that amounts to the same thing.

If I’ve understood your allusion to business properly, you’ll be glad to know that we’ve found something on which we can agree!

But I have to take issue about the proportion of time spent by the Methodist Church on Israel, which you suggest is excessive. There was one debate at the last Conference, but no subsequent “campaign” despite what was once claimed. The President and Vice-President have been to Israel, but they’ve been elsewhere too. If you take this blog as a measure of Methodism’s ‘obsession’ with Israel, I invite you to consider the actual evidence, rather than your perception of it. Especially as, and I’m going to keep repeating this till someone gets it, this thread wasn’t actually about Israel at all. Spend some time here or on other UK Methodist blogs and you’ll see - the supposed obsession is in fact illusory.

122

Avraham Reiss 03.13.11 at 2:06 pm

“Methodists have no business debating Middle East issues at all, they are really none of their business. “

In that case, and in view of what I wrote in my previous post, my objection would be to the resolution that was passed, taking the side of terrorists and relating to a fictitious state (”palestine”) as if it were real. The resolution was more a critique of the Methodist church than of Israel.

123

Richard 03.13.11 at 3:49 pm

I’m afraid that at this point I don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talking about.

I’m going to keep saying this: this isn’t about the Methodist Church Conference resolution. It really isn’t.

124

Tony Buglass 03.13.11 at 5:09 pm

“And quite frankly, until I mentioned the other trouble-spots, neither did any one else.”

Well, we weren’t talking about them, were we? Where’s the relevance? I don’t get your point.

125

fat prophet 03.13.11 at 5:49 pm

Sometimes I despair with the comments made and like Tony I don’t get the point. I also agree with Richard’s comment as the original post here was about accusations that had been made and nothing to do with the situation in the middle east.
I would have to say that probably 90% of Methodists have no interest in reports and debates at the annual conference and will certainly not have come across this current issue however much we hope these blogs are widely read.
When I look at the stats for my own blog it would be true to say that there are a number of people who check in regularly - probably other bloggers- people who arrive after searching for a specific topic and those who arrive by chance because they have clicked on the next blog button at the top. I do not for a moment believe that every hit I get is from a Methodist and I suspect the same is true for the other Methodist bloggers.
Well got to go as it is nearly time for evening worship - every blessing.

126

Richard 03.13.11 at 8:16 pm

Hope your evening worship was a blessing, FP. Were you preaching?

127

fat prophet 03.15.11 at 8:45 pm

Thanks Richard. I did post on Sunday evening but the wonders of the interweb meant the post didn’t get through - unless you moderated it because it was a nice post.

The service I attended tonight is one in a series of services with a very relaxed structure and essentially most of the people who attend have now done the sermon/talk bit on the theme of ‘What Jesus means to me’.

Our leader was one of our on note local preachers (will be on trial later this week) who sat at the keyboard and led the worship in a very relaxed was but very effectively. We sit in a circle and have a cup of tea or coffee before the service with us meeting at 6-30p.m. and staring the service at 7p.m. and it then runs till it finishes - no worries about time or keeping to the hour either way.

On Sunday evening I sat there sensing that something special was going to happen as did my wife according to the conversation on the way home. We were right because one of our group gave a message in tongues and our ministers wife gave an interpretation which really put the seal on the evening.

Certainly my wife and I came away feeling we had truly been in the presence of God.

Hope this one gets through.

128

Richard 03.15.11 at 8:54 pm

I’m glad you shared that, FP. Dunno what happened to your last try — sorry.

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