Recovering Evangelicalism – Seeking a Justice-based peace in the Middle East –

Posts tagged ‘Anti-Zionism’

Balfour blog link

The Protestant Romance with Zionism HERE

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Inspired by God

‘Malc’ commented on an earlier post that I ought to be ashamed for suggesting we (evangelical Christians) need to repent for the Balfour Declaration. I asked him what evidence he had to justify his claim that Balfour was inspired by God.I’ve heard none because there is none.

The shame I have, as I put in my reply, is for the evangelical church’s  complicity in evil and in undermining the message and the mission of Jesus. I’ll be following through some of those themes on a separate 100 day blog leading up to the centenary of the letter (2nd November) You can follow that blog here

If you live anywhere near the Midlands UK you might be interested in another date. On 28th October 2017, Claudia Prestel will be speaking at an event organised by Kairos Leicester. Her title,

‘From Balfour to the Present: 100 years of conflict’

The Bad Shepherds

Reflecting on Jeremiah 23:1-8 in his book ‘The Good Shepherd’, Kenneth E. Bailey writes, ‘Jeremiah emphasizes that failures on the part of the leadeship of the community of faith are very serious and that those failures will not be overlooked’.

Do our Christian leaders believe that, in this age of forgiving grace, their failure of leadership will be ‘overlooked’?  Interfaith dialogue and calls to prayer focus on the evils done in the name of Islam. Imams dissociate themselves from the actions of e.g. IS. (Daesh), but when their protestations are heard they are often not believed. Bishops, Imams and Rabbis, together with priests and representatives of other religions stand together and call for freedom of religion, as they should.

Christians have a duty, and Christian leaders a duty to lead, to speak out against injustice, against racism and discrimination, whether the objects of injustice are Christians or not. In the scheme of things Palestine may seem a minor matter to our ‘shepherds’: is it so for God?

How often do we hear our preachers, teachers, leaders speaking out about the causes of extremism? When do we see those leaders speaking truth to power and calling out on the history and policies that lead to hate, fear, and marginalisation?  For Zedekiah we have Bush – Blair – Obama – Cameron, and now Trump. Where is our ‘Jeremiah’, a prophetic leading voice inveighing against the imperialist-colonialist sins that have led us to this point?

There is plenty of work, including in the Muslim community, challenging extremist theologies, the practices of IS, al Nusra, etc. Their challenge arises from a conviction that, whatever the sectarian system, it is not and never was truly Islam. They say, “That’s not Islam”, and, when we Christians are faced with the same problem, as with white supremacists who claim to act Biblically, we too say, “That’s not Christianity”.

So, where is the challenge to Zionist Judaism? Where in UK and USA are the Christian leaders, where are the Rabbis and our ‘bishops’? Why are they not showing that Zionism is a recent, secular and extreme invention that has little if anything to to with historic Judaism. And why, when Zionism, in both its forms, provokes or is directly responsible for the persecution of Christians, do our leaders remain silent? Worse, why do they compete to be ‘good christian zionists’? Zedekiah suffered in hope. Our hope is in Christ, but will the ‘Son of Righteousness’ overlook the neglect of those appointed shepherds of his flock?

This is not a plea for them to be punished, but that they repent …

Balfour re-visited: Broken promises

This is an edited re-post as we approach the centenary of BALFOUR

The correspondence between the Sharif of Mecca (Husayni, or Hussein) and Sir Henry McMahon, HM High Commissioner in Egypt, is clear: Great Britain…

promised an independent Arab nation in the whole of the Arabian peninsula bounded on the West by the Red Sea and Mediterranean, on the South by the Indian Ocean, on the East by the Arabian Gulf and the border with Iran-Persia, and the North along a line just south of parallel 37, subject to minor exceptions which included  Basra and Bahgdad; the Trucial States, and certain coastal  districts to the west of Damascus, Homs, Ham and Aleppo.

Earl Grey, Foreign Secretary during WW1, stated to Parliament in 1923

“I think we are placed in considerable difficulty by the Balfour declaration itself. … it promised a Zionist home without prejudice to the civil and religious rights of the population of Palestine. A Zionist home, my Lords, undoubtedly means or implies a Zionist Government over the district in which the hoome is placed, and if 93% of the population of Palestine are Arabs, I do not see how you can establish other than an Arab Government without prejudice to their civil rights. … I do see that the situation is an exceedlingly difficult one, when it (Balfour) is compared with the pledges which were undoubtedly given to the Arabs.”  Quite so!

In the same debate Lord Buckmaster remarked,   “I think we ought to say what we mean, and I think we ought to do what we say…. We certainly meant what we said in 1915. We did not do what we said in 1918″ and concluded that the British government should “go back to obedience to the promise that we gave at a moment when we were gravely beset by difficulties, to the relief of which the Arab help in no slight degree contributed”

On April 27th 1920 Field Marshall Viscount Allenby wrote (by telegram) to Emit Feisal:

“As regards Palestine you have always been aware (he was not), that His Majsty’s Government were pledged to creating a national home for the Jews in Palestine, an intention in which administration acquiesced. His Majesty’s Government will regard themselves as under an obligation which will be confirmed by terms of mandate to safeguard in fullest manner the interests of indigenous inhabitants of the country.”

In his reply, amongst other things Feisal points out:

“As regards …  the creation of a national home for Jews in Palestine … all that I have admitted is to safeguard rights of Jews in that country as much as rights of indigenous Arab inhabitants are safeguarded and to allow same rights and privileges.     Arabs of Palestine, both Christian and Mahommedan, have repeatedly availed themselves of every opportunity against any agreement or pledge that they would make their motherland the national home of Israelites.” 

Britain promised Palestine to the Arabs, we lied and we broke covenant. Scripturally, God regards any promise as made through him. We have taken in vain the Name of The Lord. Christ have mercy.

If you who are still wondering why the Mufti hated the British and sought help from Hitler in the 1930’s perhaps you should seek help not from history but from an analyst.

Anti-Semitism ill-defined

I recently posted on the question whether Zionism and Judaism were the same: they aren’t see Is Zionism Judaism.

We now hear that the UK government (speech by Theresa May to the Conservative Friends of Israel) is to introduce an official definition of anti-Semitism. Sounds like a good idea? So it would be, except this definition goes beyond defining and into describing, and the problem there is what’s described. Here’s the ‘working definition’:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

Why not – we may ask – a simple statement such as ” antisemitism is hatred of Jews however expressed because they are Jewish”? Or to re-phrase or paraphrase an earlier post of mine:  “antisemitism is hatred of Jews because they are Jews;  Islamophobia is hatred of Muslims simply because they are Muslim and … Hatred …  of a person because of (their)  race, culture, creed, is quite simply, stupid. Criticism of people (of whatever race, creed or culture) because of what they believe or what they do is a totally other matter.” see https://dave1meec.wordpress.com/2016/10/17/flying-saucers-antisemitisim-the-labour-party/

The ‘working definition’ comes from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) who provide this press release,  which provides ‘examples’ as to how to apply the definition. So, for bullet 2,  pointing out that published media in US and UK is substantially  owned by Jews (which is accurate), is antisemitism.  Bullet 3 states ‘Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.’, which sounds OK until we speak about ‘real wrongdoing’ committed by a Jewish group, the Israeli government, who claim to speak on behalf of all Jews worldwide. By this definition the repeated bleats of UK & US governments that ‘settlement building is an obstacle to peace’ may now be construed as ‘antisemitism’. Dear Theresa, is this another issue you haven’t thought through?

point 6 is ‘Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.’ But what if it is true? Are there certain truths we cannot tell because they are ‘antisemitic’? Will we arrive at the stage where we cannot criticize Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, not to mention ‘toryism’ or socialism….?

And point 7, ‘Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.’ which seems to my simple mind to be an exercise in extreme intellectual acrobatics. It is a matter of historical (and logical) record that the State of Israel is based on ethnic, therefore racial and racist, claims. Also historically,  the Jewish right to self-determination was delivered by denying that right to the indigenous people, the Palestinians.  Racism is alive and well in Israel, as many Jews are at pains to point out.

Freedom of speech is under attack, but as much to the point, truth is under threat. I shall continue to speak out and I pray that people of good conscience, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Christian, humanist and other will do the same.

 

Is Zionism Judaism?

Pro-Zionists, Christian Zionists, and others pro-Israel will answer “Yes”.  Those who, for various reasons, wish to critique the State of Israel, will respond “No” because they believe that to answer “yes” closes down discussion and criticism of Israel’s actions. My view is that equating Zionism with Judaism is intended to define all such criticism as anti-Semitic. (Despite its claim that it may be legitimate to criticize Israel the Board of Deputies of British Jews rarely, if ever, does: see e.g. http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/news/1.642908 ). None of the above actually answers the question. And we can’t begin to answer until we have an idea of what is meant by those terms.

So, what is Judaism?  The answer, “it’s what Jews do” doesn’t help: Jews are as diverse in what they do as is any large group. From non-observant secular Jews, through culturally observant but non-believing to the varieties of orthodox who strive as far as they are able to be Torah observant, Jews are as different, (and as argumentative) as are Christian and Muslim sects. Some of these groups vigorously oppose Zionism: this alone should make us wary of an easy definition. But there are clues…

We can surely agree that Judaism has its roots in the Hebrew scriptures. Second-temple Judaism (4th BC – 1st AD approx.) had a nationalistic-imperialistic hope rooted in their expectation of the coming of the ‘messiah’. In other words, their nationalism depended on a future event. Rabbinic Judaism (mid 2nd century AD – on) held on to the same ‘messianic hope’ but placed this in the framework of diaspora. It was not assimilationist and any nationalism was, for practical purposes, out of sight.  In post-enlightenment Europe there developed a ‘cultural Judaism’ – a reasonable, but impossibly broad, category – which tended toward either ghettoization or assimilation. And it was in Northen Europe, where both ghettoization and assimilation were problematic that Zionism grew as a response to persecution and oppression.

The common feature of observant, believing Judaism, whatever forms they take, is ‘hope in the messiah’. Their ‘nationalism’, such as it is, depends on the future event, the coming of messiah. Not only is it ‘Not yet’, since this hope is grounded in scripture, when messiah comes the event will be righteous, reflecting the holiness of God. That does not mean anything goes. God is righteous and therefore will be just. (see e.g. Psalm 82; Mic. 6).

What of Zionism?  From its earliest writings it was nationalist and colonialist, and in that sense, imperialist. Being secular it had no hope in a God-ordained messiah, only in its own efforts. Zionisms creators and leaders understood the necessity of, what today we call,  ‘ethnic cleansing’. How else could European Jews create a state in Arab populated Ottoman Turkish Palestine? Even the tiny population of Jews were ‘Arab Jews’.

Would Zionists wait for a messiah most did not believe in, even while they attended Synagogue? No, they would be their own messiah with the aid of whatever imperial power they could convince. Herzl tried France, Germany, Turkey with little success. In the context of WW1 Weizmann settled on Britain. Nothing here is ‘messianic’, nothing of Judaism, it is all too human.  During its first half-century Zionism was rejected by the majority of world Jewry’s Rabbis. They recognised that Zionism would cause immense damage to Jewry and Judaism. They were not wrong.

So, No, Zionism is not Judaism. The one seeks to honour God and to follow Torah, the other honours power and cares little for God.

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