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

Posts tagged ‘Middle East’

Balfour Centenary -96 Days

The latest from my count-down blog on the Balfour Centenary. To return to ‘Malc’ and his comment. Of course it is possible that God can use heathen pagan’s to carry out his will.  That’s clearly the case in some of the Old Testament writings.  But who does what is not the point at issue, which is, how can we discern God’s will in these matters?

In many of the books I’ve read – pro and con – the writers, if Christian, tell of an incident or an experience pointing in a direction. Then, following prayer and Bible study they understand God to be calling them in a particular direction. That is my story. I didn’t choose to be spending my time fighting for justice for the Middle East. It was an entirely unexpected direction from God, ‘well he would say that, wouldn’t he?’, which is precisely the point. How can we tell when many apparently Godly men and women hold opposing views of what God is doing?

Both sides will assert, rightly, that Bible study and prayer are crucial. Are there other clues or hints that will point us in the right direction? I believe there are, for starters:

First, never assume that our understanding of ‘the Word’ is the right or only one. I may be wrong or only partly right, and I can often learn, even from people with whom I fundamentally disagree.

Second, look for the bigger picture, starting from the Bible. Many of our sectarian problems began when people, especially in Britain, gained access to God’s word in English and read it bit by bit and literally. Stand back, read whole chunks, then read them again, and again in a different version.

Third, and always, try to see what God has done, is doing and will do. What is the story of the Bible; the over-arching narrative that underpins all else.

Fourth, what are the things that contradict or get in the way of our Spirit-enabled mission to the ends of the earth?

Returning to ‘Malc’ and Balfour inspired, No, I don’t see how it fits. Given our Jewish Messiah and given the gospel and our ambassadorial mandate (Acts 2 following Matthew and Luke), if Balfour was inspired it was not from God.

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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.

Proud to be bad – sad

Our — for the moment — Prime Minister is proud that our country has been responsible for tens of thousands of deaths, many hundreds of thousands of displaced people, and the largest refugee problem of modern times. Lacking status, but refusing to ‘disappear’ Palestinians deserve better than that we ‘celebrate’ the disgraceful letter from a British Foreign Secretary to Lord Rothschild in 1917.

Cause, not for celebration, but for sober rethinking of the kind of nation we are, the kind of people we want to be. Lord have mercy.

The pedagogy of the oppressed.

The two-year old child in his mothers arms sees his grandfather abused, insulted and beaten by a young man. Does he understand the uniform, the helmet, the weapon? What does he think? He’s too young surely to think!  He sees – he sees each day his father too tired, too dejected, defeated, old before his time. He goes with his mother to a gate in a wall and she argues and pleads but is turned away. How can he know that she only wanted to attend her grandmothers funeral: five miles away in her own land.

The child is six years old – following his older brother and friends. They are throwing stones at a  wall: he doesn’t understand. The wall he knows, he sees it when he looks from the window of his bedroom. He has never been beyond the wall but he has seen hills and houses, and he’s heard his grandfather speak of “my old olives, just over there”, as if they were a lost, first love.

His brother is shouting and he comes back from his dreaming to see a hole appearing in the wall. A large steel door slides back and through it advance young men armed with what he has learned are guns; they are marching each side of a large truck with very small windows. There is another shout, and clouds of white smoke appear just in front of him. He begins to cough, to choke – he can hardly breathe and his eyes are stinging.

An older boy grabs him, wraps a scarf round his face hefts him onto his shoulder and carries him away down a side street. What does he think?

He is twelve. He is a stone-throwing youth. Does he think, or does he remember. His grandfather’s olive trees that he has never seen, his father’s tired look and bruised face, his mother who looks so old, and his brother, missing now for months.

They came for him in the midde of the night. Smashed the door and dragged everyone, women, children and men, out of bed. And his brother, Adam, they took, no-one will say where or why. His mother has been asking – and is told “it’s ‘administrative detention'”; and when she asks “why” is told, “there doesn’t have to be a ‘why'”.

Two-years old become twelve-years old doesn’t need to think. He remembers: has been taught and has learned well. If those you love, your family, your friends, are oppressed, insulted, beaten, imprisoned without justice, abused, persecuted, assaulted, can it be a surprise that you hate the perpetrator?  And, if you are told that this is all in the name of God, who loves and supports your oppressor and persecutor, will you not likely seek another God? Yet the real surprise is that there is less hate and more understanding from the oppressed than we might suppose.  It is the oppressors who sustain themselves by hate and fear.

This is Palestine: this is Israel: this is Zionism: this is blasphemy! And the Christian response should not be collusion with the lies of Zionism, as did the people of Judah in the time of Jeremiah. The Church was in error in persecuting Jews in the past. We do not redeem that error in the present by being complicit in Zionist persecution of Palestinians in the name of Judaism.

A very Dodgy Dossier

What is it about British and American parliamentarians, and Israel?

I’ve come to the conclusion that, with some notable exceptions, they’re scared stiff and playing safe. Even those who aren’t entirely sure whether God exists seem to have opted for the ‘insurance’ of keeping on God’s side and not offending ‘God’s people’.  It’s the safe side: if God exists then being nice to his folk registers on the plus side of your account.

It’s all because of the dodgy dossier; no not that one, this is a much earlier one, and I don’t mean the Bible! Any sensible Christian, indeed, many sensible Jews, must conclude that being God’s people wasn’t primarily to do with ethnicity but with behaviour. (Not, please note my evangelical friends, that our behaviour saves us: it doesn’t. But our behaviour reflects, albiet in a glass darkly, what we believe. Shouldn’t it?).

The dodgy dossier runs like this: “the Jews are God’s chosen people, God made them a promise and now he’s keeping it, don’t get in His way”. Alongside this is the claim, “it was our land 2000 – 2500 years ago, we were kicked out, we’re entitled to go back”.

What is remarkable about these claims is that anyone should take them seriously, especially as a justification, following a half century of industrial killing, for the dispossesion, ethnic cleansing, persecution and oppression of another people. A people, we should note, who themselves have claim to have been on that land for 2000 years and more.

Starting with the last claim; why should this people group be granted a ‘right of return’ that is not available to e.g. Aborigines, American Indians, Celts, Palestinians, etc.? But, further, there is a) no evidence to support the claim of ‘being kicked out’ , it didn’t happen, and  b) no evidence for this people group’s presence in Palestine 2000 – 2500 years ago as possessors. It’s questionable they were there as occupiers.  Which takes us to the Bible.

Here the issue is also quite straightforward. The covenant between God and Abraham-Jacob/Israel was demonstrably conditional. Israel, the 12-tribe collective, broke covenant and, as promised, were expelled from the land, (on which a great deal more could be said). The prophetic promise of return was evidently conditional – it was in peace and upon penitence and dependence on God and God’s Messiah, (not much evidence of that in the ‘do-it-yourself’ Zionist programme!).  The old, broken, covenant would be transformed by the New Covenant of the heart.

The Christian faith is that Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, has sealed the New Covenant in his blood. Those who have the faith of Abraham, whether of Hebrew descent or not, put their trust in Jesus Messiah as people of God, a continous and direct line of a believing remnant in every generation from Abraham to today.

If, by the way, you sincerely wish to ‘bless Israel’, and you should, pray that God’s people will act like God’s people following the example of Jesus. And if you wish to bless the State of Israel (along with USA, UK, France, Germany, Turkey, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. ) and you should, you’ll do that best by speaking truth, which is what our politicians ought to be doing, even if it upsets the zionists.

So, please tell your MP or Congressman/Senator to get their facts straight and to do justice and act mercifully. If they wish to serve God’s people Zionism is the opposite, the wrong direction. And bringing peace in Palestine is very likely to mitigate the Middle Eastern irritation with European (which includes USA) imperialism!

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.

 

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