The Times: Jews, Christians and Israel


By mattpryor
August 11, 2010
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Following the shockingly one-sided rhetoric and actions by the Methodist Church a few weeks ago, I noticed this article appear in the Times "faith" section yesterday which may be of interest to many of you. It is written by Dr Edward Kessler of Cambridge.

Jews, Christians and Israel

In the last 12 months Christian churches have increasingly been laying the blame for Middle East discord solely at the door of the Israelis

The author goes on to describe similar actions taken by (albeit fringe) church groups in Australia and the US and rightly laments the lack of balance in their approach. He also touches on the links between criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism, and illustrates the double-standards at play:

Where are the Churches’ calls for a boycott of China because of its treatment of Tibetans, or Russia for its treatment of Chechniyans?

His closing paragraph is an appeal for dialogue and mutual understanding:

Unless Jews and Christians wish to continue this impasse, they need to take engage in more constructive action: listening to each other would be a good place to start.

It's definitely worth a read, however the Times website is now subscription only.

COMMENTS

DeborahMaccoby

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 18:50

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I'm a Guardian reader (surprise, surprise!), but I've just paid £1 to look at the Times website for a day and have read the article - thanks for alerting us to it, Matt.

Re "Where are the Churches’ calls for a boycott of China because of its treatment of Tibetans, or Russia for its treatment of Chechniyans?": as I pointed out on JH'S blog about the Methodist Report, the Churches feel a special outrage about injustice committed in the Holy Land by people claiming to be heirs to "the ancient Jewish people of God", as the Methodist Report puts it. This is only taking the Jewish State - which after all invokes the Hebrew Prophets in its Declaration of Independence and says the State will be founded on the principles laid down by them - at its word. There is a sense of: if there is no justice in the Holy Land, then where can there be justice? This is not delegitimising Israel at all - it is a calling to account and a demand for justice. Does Israel really want to be seen in the same category as China and Russia?

Deborah


telegramsam

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 20:32

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Whataboutery, pure and simple.


Yvetta

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 20:57

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Thanks, Matt. Very interesting.

Deborah, not good enough. The churches are notorious for not protesting the persecution of Christians in China, for example. Stop making excuses for these Marxists in dog collars.


telegramsam

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 21:23

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I don't see the point of raising what other, autocratic, countries do. Israel is not only supposed to be a democracy but has a mission to be a light unto the nations.


ibrows

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 22:00

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Deborah, just ignore them, for many on this blog, any criticism of Israeli policies = 'anti-Israel' or 'de-legitimising Israel'. As such, they believe Israel is always above any criticism.

Your correct, its certainly about justice and We are not falling for the old diversion tactic, what about China? what about Britain in Iraq etc. These other actions throughout the world however good or bad they may be, do not change the fact the the Israeli occupation of Palestine remains illegal and totally unjust.


richmillett

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 22:45

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Ibrows - Where is the "occupation" said to be illegal? What about UNSCR 242?


Yvetta

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 22:51

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The Christian Church should be speaking out on behalf of persecuted Christians instead of leaving those poor people to their fate. That they don't is cowardice, hypocrisy, dereliction of duty ... The churches have been hijacked by lefties since at lease the 1980s, owing to the WCC being infiltrated bt radicals and exponents of "liberation theology".
Israel is a light unto the nations - just look at what it achieves in medical breakthroughs and does in humanitarian aid and relief, for instance.
But you won't learn those things in Demonise-the-Zionist-Entity 101.


Yvetta

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 22:52

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Sorry - gremlins in my laptop=typos.


happygoldfish

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 23:57

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deborah, "the churches" you refer to are being racist, by judging israel differently from other countries, and you're trying to excuse them with the bizarre argument that israel ought to be judged differently from other countries …

DeborahMaccoby: … the Churches feel a special outrage about injustice committed in the Holy Land by people claiming to be heirs to "the ancient Jewish people of God", as the Methodist Report puts it.

This is not delegitimising Israel at all - it is a calling to account and a demand for justice. Does Israel really want to be seen in the same category as China and Russia?

obviously, i don't speak for israel (surprisingly, you apparently do ), but i assume israel does want to be judged by the same standards as China and Russia, and on that basis expects to be judged better than them

ok, i can understand that some jews might feel that as-a-jew they want israel to adopt higher standards, and accordingly for example it is fair for them to boycott israel and even to encourage other jews to do so too

but there is no justifcation whatever for non-jews to demand that israel adopt higher standards than other countries (still less to be judged by them) …

that is racism

and jews who encourage non-jews to demand that israel adopt (and be judged by) higher standards than other countries are both excusing and encouraging racism


happygoldfish

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 00:06

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2 points

btw … to go completely off-topic

has anyone else noticed that the times on the jc blogs are consistently 2 to 3 minutes behind the correct time?

how can this possibly happen? (and why isn't there a feedback/announcements forum on thejc.com to discuss such things, as on other discussion sites? )


Isca Stieglitz

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 01:10

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A little 'aside': I thought 'light unto the nations' referred to the fact that an Abrahamic tribe were the first to take up monotheism and that monotheism was thus the 'new standard' the 'light' amongst nations of idolators. I'm not particularly religious, but that's what I thought it meant.

In any event, there are countless democracies, groups, organisations etc. across the globe who have 'declarations' of aspirations, intent, promises and probably all countries and many groups/ organisations fall woefully short of those 'declarations'. Israel is not the only democracy to fall short.

As such, I believe that if you point your camera and focus close up on a given country, group etc. you could make it look poverty stricken, riddled with crime, full of fanatics, war mongering, fascist, racist and so on. Pull your camera back and other aspects come into focus and hopefully more positive aspects come into view.

I watched the result of an exercise like this done to the UK, Belgium and Switzerland, as an experiment, and the deliberately selective film made for tough viewing...guns, gangs, riots, anarchy, racists, poverty, malnutrition, torture and neglect of children, and so on.

I believe, that Israel is focussed on in 'close-up' by too many people, groups, organisations etc.

Everything is 'monstrous', 'nazi', 'murderous', 'disgusting', 'war mongers', 'dirty', 'zios', 'bankster', 'prison camp', 'ghettoes', 'callous', 'wicked', 'cruel f*ckers', 'controlled, 'neo-con', 'holocaust', 'lobbyist', 'conspiratorial', 'power hungry', 'apartheid', 'South African', 'boycotted', 'divested', 'illegal', 'anti-
'in human', 'in humane', 'concentration camp', 'ethnic cleansing', 'genocide', 'organ snatchers', 'poverty', 'child killers', 'women beaters', 'rapists', 'torturers', 'vindictive', 'psychopathic', 'sociopathic', 'deliberate targetting of...', 'should be squashed, smashed, ended, annihilated, pushed to the sea', 'shameful', 'nasty', 'vicious', 'Hitler', '9/11', 'terrorist'...the lists are endless, but can be found anywhere and everywhere and yet even if there are incidents of truth in any of this, just read this list again and this is a taster of what is levelled in one direction only, by a lot of so called peace makers, intelligensia and the like.

Can you think of any country that is so systematically undermined maligned in a complex, tragic and multi-faceted conflict by SOME - legal systems, groups, NGOs, charities, churches, mosques, meeting houses, unions, politcians, teachers, exibitions, journalists, comedians, actors, musicians, academics etc. when there is clear evidence staring them in the face that if the camera was pointed in the other direction with the same 'close-up', then we would see a more balanced view of the whole picture.

And G-d forbid we should pull the camera right back and see something beautiful, kind, compassionate on either side. The culprits on any side of conflict hog the limelight.

In Israel's particular political case, (which is what is up for discussion here), 'wide angle' simply isn't possible, nobody wants to 'pull back', because to pull back in wide focus would re-humanise the 'in human'.

Quite plainly, Israel is not all of these things and certainly not in the way that racist and anti-semitic vocabulary as become acceptable and casually levelled at 'her' , Israelis and jews.

This close-up focus is not fair criticism, it is racist and in a lot of cases irrational, unfettered, uneducated, biased hatred and in most cases anti-semitic.

And so we return to the 'accepted close-up': The 'demon' Israel remains, the only 'hate ridden country' with no redeeming features in the Middle East which is singularly responsible for all Islamist terrorist activities throughout the globe, to blame for all the internal and external conflicts in the Middle East. Really?

Pull back that camera.


Yvetta

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 10:20

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Marvellous post, Isca!!!
I dips me lid to yer!


raycook

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 12:09

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'Pull back that camera'

And remember to take the lens cap off.


mattpryor

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 13:03

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And don't point it at soldiers, cameras can look very suspicious to a nervous squaddy.


Isca Stieglitz

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 14:20

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Cheers Yvetta! Matt & Ray: Everyone's a David Bailey now eh?! ;o)

Take care everyone & Shabbat Shalom for tomorrow.


DeborahMaccoby

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 15:06

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Happygoldfish:

1) Re the claim that the Churches are being racist in demanding higher standards from Israel: it seems to me that Israel can't have it both ways. It bases its claim to the land on the Jewish historical and religious connection with it and then complains when the Christian Churches, which are rooted in the Hebrew Bible, take seriously the message of that Bible that the Jewish people is required to create a just society in the Holy Land and be a moral example to the rest of the world.

2)You write: "I assume Israel does want to be judged by the same standards as China and Russia, and on that basis expects to be judged better than them".

If Israel is judged by the same standards as China and Russia, then it does indeed emerge better than them. If it is judged by the same standards as liberal western democracies, such as Britain or France, then it emerges worse than them - in fact, a lot worse than them. So far from attaining the standard of "a light unto the nations", Israel can't even attain the standards of a liberal Western European state.

Deborah


DeborahMaccoby

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 15:21

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PS On the subject of "singling out Israel", this is a brilliant article, by Adam Keller, of Gush Shalom, on international civil society's "contract with Zionism".

http://jfjfp.com/?p=16048

Keller points out that governments actually behave very leniently towards Israel, but says that international civil society does indeed "single out" Israel - but argues that this can't be just explained away as antisemitism. He includes in the "contract" between international civil society and Zionism the support of many Christians for the establishment of the State of Israel. He argues that the outrage of international civil society against Israel comes from its breaking of the contract. Very much worth reading.

Deborah


mattpryor

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 16:18

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Deborah I feel you're being very unfair and once again you seem to take the default position of agreeing with anyone that opposes Israel's existence and disagreeing with anyone that speaks up for Israel. I'll be honest with you and say that this makes me angry and frustrated.

I look at this from a secular point of view not a religious one so I'll leave debates about Israel's obligations to the Torah to others. From my point of view Israel is a nation state and does not have to explain its existence to anyone, any more than Wales does - and certainly not the Methodist Church.

As for your insistence on comparing Israel to other countries (which is in itself horribly judgemental), I don't think that's even possible as no other countries are in Israel's situation. Britain and France are much bigger, richer, secure and powerful than Israel. We are not surrounded by hundreds of millions of people that harbour malice towards us. We have not been constantly attacked by those surrounding countries for the last 60 years.

If Britain was in that situation, I don't think we would behave any better - in fact I imagine the vast majority of Brits would expect our government to show a great deal less restraint than Israel does.

Oh and France has banned women wearing Burkhas. Has Israel?

To be honest it looks to me as though you are inventing arguments to justify your hostility towards Israel, because deep down you know it's irrational and makes no sense - just like Adam Keller in your link above (contract with Zionism? What's he on about?)

At a guess I'd say you used to support Israel but found the pressure too much and flipped to the dark side. Probably during Cast Lead or Lebanon. I know because I came close myself on a few occasions. Am I warm?

It's not too late Deborah... I believe you are a true humanitarian, and supporting Israel is the humanitarian thing to do - although it may not always seem like it.


raycook

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 17:09

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he Adam Keller is a worthless piece of the ususal moral realtivism given away by one sentence:

Should Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir land in any European country, he is bound to be arrested by the local police and extradited to the International Criminal Court in the Hague to stand trial for the misdeeds of his army, and of militias backed by his army; in Darfur. Binyamin Netanyahu need fear nothing of the kind.

This equates someone responsibe for the genocide, rape, displacement and mutilation of hundreds of thosuands of people with Israel's treatment of Palestinians. Why should Binyamin Netanyahu fear anything? He has not been accused of war crimes. Thousands of Palestinians get treatment in Israeli hospitals, life expectancy among Palestinians is higher than the rest of the Middle East, Gazans, whose de facto government wishes to destroy Israel and fires indiscrimiantely at its cities, is provided with electricity, gas, food, medecine.

Yes, there are injustices. So go and complain and campaign about them. But then explain why the majority of resolutions in the UNHRC are against Israel whilst other far worse regimes get off scot free. This is not whataboutery, it's about jew-hatred in the Islamic world designed ultimately to destroy Israel and always has been. A good portion of Palestinian suffering is due to Arab rejectionism.

Anyone who stands with jew-hating fascists or left-wing Marxists who think Saddam Hussein and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were/is jolly nice, misundertood chaps has lost their moral compass.

Zionism very specifically and explicitly asked the international community to be singled out for a very specific and very unique privilege, which was never ever granted to any other group anywhere else. Namely, the right to claim a land as its “National Home” on the basis of ancestors having lived in this land 2000 years ago.>

This is a lie. Jews have a continuous presence and connection with Eretz Israel. This argument show historical illiteracy. But is it true that it is the only country created by the UN? Not quite because they actually voted for partition into two states of equal area but this was rejected by the Arab nations who then attacked Isael seeking to destroy it. Deborah, see how Israel is singled out by saying it is not singled out. Where is the criticism of the Arab League not to accept two states 62 years ago?

Everything that has happened since is a direct result of rejectionism.

The Jewish State in Palestine was created in 1948 and greatly overstepped the boundaries set for it by the United Nations, while the Arab State in Palestine is yet to come.

Yes, because Jordan and Egypt occpied the land set aside for a Palestinian state without ever allowing one to be created. Why? Because they were intent on destroying the Jewish one. DOes Keller seriously think that after almost being strangled at birth the Israelis would say ' ok that's over, let's just go back to the Partition borders so we can be attacked again'.

there are many countries whose conduct fully deserves condemnation – but none was given such a unique privilege as the Zionist movement was given, none had made such a binding obligation in return for being given such a privilege, and which it failed to keep.

So the Jews owe the international community for the right to exist. Only the Jews have to exist under a microscope forever indebted to the world for allowing them to survive. if that's not anti-Semitic, I don't know what is.

Israel is singled out because it, and it alone, is in obvious default of a fundamental obligation, an obligation which was the condition for Israel coming into being in the first place.

This is the most specious and obnoxious argument I've ever seen. And Deborah thinks this is a worth peice of analysis and journalism.

The article completely ignores Arab rejectionsism, Islamic fundamentalism, the wonders of Israeli science and invention, its disproportionate contribution to the world.

The article explains exactly the moral degeneracy of JfjfP and its attempts to cleave to arguments and a form of 'reasoning' which don't bear the merest scrutiny.


mattpryor

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 17:14

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2 points

Ray have I told you lately that I love you?

The article explains exactly the moral degeneracy of JfjfP and its attempts to cleave to arguments and a form of 'reasoning' which don't bear the merest scrutiny.

Exactly what I was trying to say, but far less eloquently than you sir.


Yvetta

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 17:22

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Matt and Ray, superb posts, brilliantly argued. I like how, like Isca, you have taken the time to really engage with the subject and debate it at some length - to devastating effect.


raycook

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 17:24

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Matt, apart from close family you are the first man to tell me that you love me. Thanks. But as you are not Jewish it will have to be platonic, sorry. (LOL).


DeborahMaccoby

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 18:50

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Ray, thanks for your lengthy analysis of Adam Keller's article - though I can't go as far as to say I love you...sorry....

I agree with you about the bit about "ancestors having lived in this land 2000 years ago." It would have been more accurate to have written: "on the basis of Jewish sovereignty in the land 2000 years ago, since that was when Jews lost sovereignty in the land, though, as you say, a Jewish presence continued. Nonetheless, by the time modern Zionism began, that presence had become a very small minority, so I think Keller's basic point applies - it was not a question of a state being given to a people who were already a majority in the land in question. Arthur Koestler (who was a Zionist) wrote of the Balfour Declaration that Britain promised the land of another people to a third people. And even in 1948, the Jews were still a minority - which was why the Palestinian Arabs were reluctant to give up half their land to a people who were a third of the population and owned only 6 per cent of the land. Surely this is at least understandable. And the majority Jewish State was only created by the driving out of 700,000 Palestinians - even Benny Morris says they left mainly because of Israeli military action. However much you may disagree with the new historians, it still remains true that Israel did not let any of the refugees back and has not done anything substantial to solve the Palestinian refugee problem. And it is now expanding settlements on the West Bank and doing everything to prevent the emergence of a viable Palestinian state. In other words it has betrayed its contract with the international community.

Deborah


amber

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 19:19

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Maccoby, it is truly extraordinary that you attend pro-Hizbollah rallies, where Hizbollah flags are waved and people chant "we are all Hizbollah now" - and you expect to be taken seriously.

Shameful.


amber

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 19:20

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Maccoby, it was not "Palestinian land" as you claim. Never was, in any sense.


amber

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 19:22

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Maccoby, how many Jewish refugees who were ethnically cleansed from Arab lands have been compensated, or allowed to return? Why do refugees only mean Arabs, and not Jews?


richmillett

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 19:26

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Deborah as much as i like you (especially as you don't stand outside Israeli shops holding up pictures of dead children, like many of your anti-Zionist peers) you are totally wrong on virtually everything you have written in your last post:

1. The Jews were still a minority? - So what? They were living there as Ray stated. There were roughly 25,000 out of a total population of roughly 500,000 in a land that now contains more than 10,000,000. Please don't tell me that that entitled the inhabitants there at the beginning of the 19th century to control the whole area. That also deals with Koestel's ignorant statement.

2. In 1948 the Jews were only a third of the population - Well in 1937 the Arabs rejected giving the Jews a mere 20% of the land during the Peel Commission. Imagine that. Even 20% of the land! A 20% that could have kept 6,000,000 of your coreligionists alive while the Arabs could have had Palestine on the remaining 80%.

3. 700,000 driven out - You read it somewhere and now repeat verbatim like a parrot without unerstanding it. Go and re-read Morris, please. The Arabs left for a mixture of reasons and if driving them out was one of them then it was due to military necessity according to Morris.

I share Matt's anger and frustration with you but I have to say you have inspired some extremely interesting answers from Ray, Matt and Isca, so i thank you for that at least.


ibrows

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 20:11

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Rich we read Morris,

In his 'Birth of the Palestinian refugee problem revisited' Morris simply rejects the claim that this was a systematic explusion based on orders from the top Israeli officials, and tends to attribute atrocities to 'rogue elements' within the army: 'alongside such unauthorised or excessive operations, the Jewish response to Arab atttacks also included some atrocites. The IZL and LHI showed little compunction in killing Arabs indiscriminately...' (p.80).

Morris also notes that in August 1947 a number of Arab villages made formal peace agreements with the Jews, including notables from Deir Yassin, on 20th January 1948 (p.90-91), though this would not spare them.

As the fighting began some Palestinian fled in fear, others were expelled and their homes razed. Benny Morris accepts that explusions took place.

Morris states there was lobbying by some to destroy the Palestinian villages and evict their inhabitants (p.76), but Morris claims Ben-Gurion rejected this. Nevertheless, many explusions took place (whether systematically ordered or not). Plus Morris devotes a whole chapter to how Israel prevented Palestinians that fled during the war, from returning to their land (chapter six 'blocking a return').

Weitz began evicting Palestinians: 'Weitz and his JNF colleagues in the north then decided to raze the tenants' houses, to destroy their crops and to pay the evictees compensation. At the same time, he organised with settlers of Kibbutz Kfar Masaryk the eviction of the squatting Beduin in Haifa bay, and the eviction of small tenant communities at Daliyat ar Ruha and buteimat, southeast of Haifa' (p131-132). This is simply the eviction of Palestinians and 'Judiasiation' of the land.

Weitz pressed again for systematic explusions, Ben-Gurion according to Morris declined and 'Weitz was left privately to promote local evictions' (p.132).

'In June 1948, many fled after a flourmill was destroyed, and the vilage [of Shu'uth) was finally destroyed and abandoned during an IDF attack on 22nd July. The orders had been to destroy the village and apparently kill all the male inahbitants' (p.133).

Morris also mentions Plan D (Plan Dalet), 'where the gloves had to be taken off' (p.236), after this IDF violence increased:

'ironically, it was not not the Haganah's Operation Nahson and its follow ups but a small IZL-LHI operation - undertaken with reluctant, qualified consent of the Haganah - which had the most lasting effect of any single event if the war in precipitating the Palestinian exodus'(p.237). This as Morris confirms was Deir Yassin:

'the conquest of the village was carried out with great cruelty. Whole families - women, old people, children - were killed... some of the prisoners moved to places of detention, including women and children, were murdered viciously by their captors' (p.237). Morris states 'altogether about 100-120 villagers died that day' (p.238), and fear led many Palestinian to fled that Deir Yassin may be repeated in their village next (p.239).

this massacre at Deir Yassin brought about the fleeing of many Palestinians and Morris confirms as much.


ibrows

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 20:17

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So lets get this straight Rich, localised evictions, the massacre of 100 plus Palestinians at Deir Yassin which Morris claims 'had the most lasting effect of any single event of the war in precipitating the Palestinian exodus'(p.237), followed by a systematic attempt to prevent those Palestinian displaced during the war (or who fled in fear after Deir Yassin) from returning to their homes.

I think maybe you should re-read Morris as his own evidence confirms these actions can not be deemed as 'military necessity'.


happygoldfish

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 20:34

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deborah, that's not true

DeborahMaccoby: It {israel} bases its claim to the land on the Jewish historical and religious connection with it …

(btw, why do you call it only a "claim" rhater than a "right"? do you subconciously wish you were living in a time when it was only a claim? )

israel bases its right to the land (of israel) on being given it by the united nations in 1948, immediately followed by recognition by most of the world (and admission to the un), and more recently even by the arab league countries (egypt and jordan explicitly, the remainder more recently by implication)

israel bases its right to the land (of israel) on legal right, not on some historical or religious principle

israel has the same right to its land (and to exist) as any other united nations member

deborah, "the churches" you refer to are being racist, by judging israel differently from other countries, and you're trying to excuse them with the bizarre argument that israel's legal right can be ignored

pretending that israel does not have the same legal right to its land as other countries do is no justification whatever for non-jews to demand that israel adopt higher standards than other countries (still less to be judged by them) …

that is racism

and jews who encourage non-jews to demand that israel adopt (and be judged by) higher standards than other countries are both excusing and encouraging racism

DeborahMaccoby: This is not delegitimising Israel at all …

it is exactly delegitimising israel, to ignore israel's legal right, or to regard it as adulterated and weakened by an admixture of "historical and religious" claim

DeborahMaccoby: If Israel is judged by the same standards as China and Russia, then it does indeed emerge better than them. If it is judged by the same standards as liberal western democracies, such as Britain or France, then it emerges worse than them - in fact, a lot worse than them. So far from attaining the standard of "a light unto the nations", Israel can't even attain the standards of a liberal Western European state.

i assume israel does want to be judged by the same standards as britain, and on that basis expects to be judged at least as good as britain was on northern ireland and is now on iraq or afghanistan


raycook

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 20:43

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Deborah

we need to know each other better before we can love each other, but at least we can respect each other.

I believe that you want one state for two people and you reject the concept of a Jewish (majority) homeland. I hope I am not misepresenting you.

The fact that the Jews were a minority is an undeniable fact. The fact that many Arabs were forcibly removed is also true, although many also fled. But that only happened because the Jews were attacked and it was they who were going to be driven out. Where to? At least the Arabs had somewhere to flee to.

Koestler misses the point that the Balfour Declaration specifically mentions the rights of those already living in Palestine. The land was not to be taken away, but shared.

Demographics are a complex issue. For example, it depends on what area you are defining your minority in. The lands the Jews settled in was bought legally from the Ottomans and by 1948 they were a majority in the areas designated by the Partition Plan. Jerusalem had been a majority Jewish city for generations. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs flooded into Palestine to seek greater prosperity and freedom precisely because the Jews had developed the land and its institutions.

It's actually very hard to answer your points satisfactorily without writing a very long defence of Zionism, so I won't.

Sorry, especially to Happy, if I have wandered off topic, I shall leave it at that.

I'll make some other points:

Arabs states threw out about 900,000 Jews, many of whom fled to Israel. That particular refugee problem was resolved about 60 years ago without the help of UNRWA. The plight of Palestinians in Arab lands is an international disgrace and scandal that is completely ignored. As far as I know your organisation does not include these Palestininans in the ambit of its Justice.

Israel is a legally constituted nation; if you have respect for International Law and the UN, which I believe you do, you and the rest of the world just have to live with that fact. Israel is here to stay.

The only questions that should be debated now are: what is the shape of a final settlement between two peoples.
And until that settlement; how should Israel adminster the territories balancing security with justice and humanity. This last area is where fair criticism of Israel should be focussed. Any attempt to combine these concerns with delegitimisation of Israel I have no truck with.


DeborahMaccoby

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 11:54

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Happygoldfish, I am certainly not denying Israel's legal right given to it by the UN and the international community, as you point out. Indeed this legal right, conferred by the UN and the international community, is at the basis of Adam Keller's article, which I strongly recommended, if you remember. But Keller's main point is that this legal right came with conditions - ie that Israel should find a way of sharing the land with the Palestinian Arabs - as Ray emphasises. This was stated in the Balfour Declaration - as Ray points out - even though it recognised only the civil rights of the "non-Jewish inhabitants" (who were in the vast majority at that time), and, as Keller points out, the moral condition was implicit in the UN Partition resolution. Even though the Palestinian Arabs rejected the resolution, the moral condition on Israel remains. And, as I've said there were understandable reasons for the Palestinians' rejection of the resolution - one that I haven't stated was the fear that the Jews would use the state only as a first step towards taking over the whole land. Has history really proved this fear unfounded? But even if the rejection is completely condemned as a major historical mistake, the moral condition on Israel remains, particularly as the Palestinians have actually changed course since then and agreed to the historical compromise of accepting Israel within the 1967 borders.

Re the theological question, I was only stressing this because this blog is about theological issues - Jews, Christians and Israel. I don't think the fact that there was Jewish sovereignty in the land 2000 years ago does actually confer a right to Jewish sovereignty now - but it is certainly a claim that is often made by Israel; it is in the Israeli Declaration of Independence. And, as I've said before, this Declaration of Independence also says the modern State will be based upon the precepts of the Hebrew Prophets. And if you read those Prophets, they say again and again that the Jewish presence in the land carries moral conditions - the Jewish people has to act with justice in the Holy Land. So surely it's not surprising that this is invoked by Christians. Actually I think our main difference is that ibrows and I believe in the "chosen people" concept (in its true sense) and you don't.

Even from a strictly practical point of view - not legal or religious - if Israel continues on its present course it is unlikely to survive, because it could end up provoking a major regional war.

Re Britain and Northern Ireland, Britain sustained a terrible bombing campaign from the IRA, but never bombed Ireland or N. Ireland in retaliation, since of course this would have led to civilian casualties and greatly increased popularity for the IRA (in contrast to the insanity of Israel's bombing of Lebanon and Gaza). I don't want to get into long discussions aboutu Iraq and Afghanistan, but at least there is some rationale about Britain being involved there, whereas I can't see any rationale at all in Israel's Occupation.

Deborah


DeborahMaccoby

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 11:59

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Correction - sorry, I meant to say "telegramsam and I believe in the chosen people concept" - I don't think ibrows does...

Deborah


richmillett

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 12:22

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Ibrows - you are right. I was too general but i was really only responding to Deborah's unsubstantiated comment that 700,000 were driven out. As you say the dreadful events at Deir Yassin would have had an effect but not nearly enough to drive 700,000 out. My comment was meant to be aimed at the central command but i agree with you that there were rogue elements.


DeborahMaccoby

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 12:29

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In reply to Amber on the chants of "we are all Hezbollah now" on the Second Lebanon War demonstrations: if Britain had bombed Ireland and/or Northern Ireland, causing major civilian casualities, there would (I hope) have been large protest demonstrations in London, and no doubt some Irish people would have been chanting "we are all IRA now" (supposing the IRA had put up the resistance that Hezbollah put up, thus greatly increasing their popular image as a symbol of national resistance). I wouldn't have agreed with the support for the IRA shown by some participants, but I would still have joined the protest demos against the insane actions of the British government.

Deborah


amber

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 12:37

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Maccoby, that is a ridiculous excuse - as if the only demonstration you were able to attend was one organized by and mostly attended by people who want Israel to be annihilated (and some like the Hizbollah supporters wish to exterminate all Jewish people). Would you attend a rally attended in large part by neo-Nazis - if your "concerns" overlapped?

It is utterly unforgivable that you attended such antisemitic events - and now expect to be taken seriously here. Not only do you deny Israel the right to defend itself, you actively support those who would destroy it.

As I said, shameful.


amber

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 12:40

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Maccoby, you also say the foundation of Israel came "with conditions", including that the land is shared - which is in itself incorrect.

Furthermore, the Palestinian Arabs have made it impossible to share anything, as the Palestinian nationalist movemnet grew up as a result of Israel, not independently from it. Hence no calls for an independent "Palestinian" state between 1948-67, when Jordan occupied Judea and Samaria, and Egypt occupied Gaza. Such nationalism suddenly appears on the scene in 1967, and its aim is not the establishment of a state, but the destruction of another- Israel.


richmillett

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 13:53

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Deborah, we have been together at meetings where the most dreadful things have been said about Jews and no one has stood up to complain (if a "zionist" has stood up to complain he has been considered a trouble maker and thrown out while you and your colleagues look on in silence).


happygoldfish

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 13:58

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deborah, i'm sorry but you've completely lost me … you keep referring to a "moral condition", but you don't say what you mean by it

do you mean that israel was created with a moral condition that it agree to obey higher standards than other un members, and to be judged by them for ever after?

and what are you talking about here?

DeborahMaccoby: … this legal right came with conditions - ie that Israel should find a way of sharing the land with the Palestinian Arabs

the 1947 partition resolution (unga resolution 181) authorised two separate ("independent") states, not "sharing the land" …

Independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem, set forth in Part III of this Plan, shall come into existence in Palestine

and what are you talking about here?

DeborahMaccoby: … and, as Keller points out, the moral condition was implicit in the UN Partition resolution.

i] no, keller doesn't
ii] where in unga resolution 181 is there anything even remotely implying that the jewish state will operate under a higher moral code than any other state?
iii] (and … just to humour you … are you suggesting that this moral condition also applied to the arab state? )

deborah, please clarify your claim that israel was created by the un under some "moral condition"

(ie, what is the condition, and what words expressly or impliedly created it??)

without such a condition, surely there is no justification whatever for non-jews to demand that israel adopt higher standards than other countries (still less to be judged by them)? …

that is racism

and jews who encourage non-jews to demand that israel adopt (and be judged by) higher standards than other countries are both excusing and encouraging racism


raycook

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 14:59

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I said I hoped that Deborah and I could respect each other but her twisted views, moral relativism and misreading of history mean, I'm afraid, that I can no longer respect her or her views because she is saying exactly what Hamas and Hizbullah and right-wing Islamofascists and left-wing anti-Zionists are saying, she just dresses is it up with a veneer of civility; but her views are, at the core, very uncivil, like her friends'.

If an apaprently decent and well-meaning person, which I assume Deborah is, can have these views and really believe what she is saying and if other apparently decent people also think the same way, then they have drunk from a poisoned well which may well be the start of a pandemic that destroys not just Israel but our entire culture of Western liberalism and enlightenment.

I suggest that she and everyone else take some strong, deep draughts of Pilar Rahola and smell he fresh air of true left-wing European liberalism.

Someone posted four video links on my blog post about Rahola.

I strongly recommend them to everyone. Go here:

http://www.raymondcook.net/blog/index.php/2010/06/22/la-pasionara-reborn...

and look at the blog comments where you'll find the links.


Macairt

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 15:27

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If Christians are going to hold Jews to Jewish standards, I think it only fair that Jews may hold Christians to Christian standards. Or indeed Muslims to Islamic ones.

e.g. justice and honesty:

if Christians think Palestinian Christian dispossession entails the right to return and restoration, then they also ought to confer that right historically to Jews.

Likewise, if they think Palestinian Arab Christians and Muslims entitled to national self-determination in the land, they ought also to confer that right on Jews. They also ought to acknowledge and confront the fact that, for nearly 2000 years, Christians have thought dispossession and exile a perfectly just and entirely merited fate for Jews, as a punishment for their alleged rejection of Jesus and the prophets.

Did this teach Palestinian Christians any Christian sympathy for the lot of the Jews as a people dispossessed, even from most of the lands of exile?

Hardly.

They may not have actively endorsed the violent expulsionist or eliminationist threats of their Palestinian Arab Muslim nationalist brethren (though some did), but they remained, to all intents and purposes, completely silent and complicit in the face of it.

I am pretty familiar with the Anglican and Methodist communions' critiques of Israel and Zionism. As well as their common discourse with Palestinian Arab Christian liberation theologians of sundry denominations. I can tell you here and now such Christian self-examination qua Christian is very rare indeed.

The tendency is almost always to extract the mote from Jewish eyes, rather than the beam from Christian ones.

I doubt Deborah Maccoby's father, Hyam would have agreed much with her. He would have said that the fact that Jews have yearned for a restoration to the land for nigh on 2000 years is an aspiration to national justice and self-determination every bit as legitimate as that of Palestinian Christians and Muslims, a right the latter sought to deny to Jews historically, excluding, practising apartheid against them for centuries, trying to keep them to a tiny minority, then threatening to further expel or eliminate them.

Frankly I see no such Christian moral criteria applied to Palestinian Christian attitudes and treatment of Jews, Palestinian or other, over the centuries, or during the course of the 20th.

The Methodist report, for instance, reads like a recasting of the crucifixion narrative, that of the Palestinian Arab Christian and Muslim national-victim Christ by the alien Zionist Jews i.e. a recasting of the Christian story in national or nationalist form.

The odd thing is that Hyam Maccoby would have spotted this immediately for what it was.


mattpryor

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 15:54

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Macairt: Good post, I agree with most of your points, but please be careful not to judge all Christians by the behaviour or views of a vocal minority.

There is an earlier blog post by Jonathan about Methodist Friends of Israel, a group which has been set up to combat this movement within the Methodists.

I think it's important to acknowledge the courage of people that stand up for fair treatment of Israel within their organisations, it really isn't easy in the current political climate.

The problem with us Brits is that we consider our political opinions to be largely private, between us and the ballot box. Particularly true with subjects such as the Israel-Arab conflict which is bound to cause heated debates and arguments which many of us prefer to avoid. When our views and opinions are under assault, as at the moment, it does take courage to stand up for them, and there is always the worry about being judged negatively by our colleagues and friends.

The easy option is to just give in, and as many of us know that is not the right path. Let's at least give credit and support to those that stand up and make their voices heard.


DeborahMaccoby

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 19:22

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Happygoldfish, sorry that I've lost you....I'll try to clarify what I meant. It seems to me that Keller is arguing that the international community gave the Jews a legal right to a state on the basis of an unprecedented historical claim, since they were not a majority in the land that they laid claim to. Keller argues that Israel's legal right therefore carried a moral condition - ie some kind of fairness and justice towards the Palestinian Arabs. He says that Israel has broken this condition by its complete injustice towards the Palestinians and therefore the international community feels particular outrage at this injustice. So he is not arguing that Israel should adopt a higher standard than other states - just that, according to its contract with the international community, it should behave with at least some justice and fairness towards the Palestinians. See this paragraph from Keller's article:

"In the 1917 Balfour Declaration, His Majesty’s Government declared that it would “view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” – but “it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”. Thirty years later, the United Nations at last explicitly authorized fulfillment of the Zionist dream by the creation of a Jewish State in Palestine – but with an Arab State at its side. In effect, Zionism can be seen to have signed a contract with the international community. Fair treatment of the Palestinians and respect of (at least some of) their rights as the clear condition for the recognition of its own national aspirations."

Keller's article is a separate issue from the religious, theological concept of the "chosen people" - chosen to set a moral example to the world - which I mentioned earlier, though I think this concept is still relevant to the "singling out" question. I think many Christians - who are, as I said, rooted in the Hebrew Bible - are particularly shocked that a state calling itself Jewish should behave with such injustice in the Holy Land. And if Israel makes the claim that it is the heir to the ancient Jewish people of the Hebrew Bible, then it has to expect this kind of association in the minds of Christians. I don't think we can say that it's okay for us to see ourselves as the chosen people, but it's racist for non-Jews to see us as such.\

The Methodist Report was accused by Jonathan Hoffman of "supercessionism" - ie claiming that the Jewish covenant with God is invalid. On the contrary, the Methodist Report argues that this covenant is indeed valid, and goes on to ask why Israel doesn't live up to it.

I hope this has made things a bit clearer, though maybe not.....

Deborah


DeborahMaccoby

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 19:34

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Richard, can you tell me what dreadful things were said about Jews at which meetings that we both attended?

Deborah


Macairt

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 20:03

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' the Methodist Report argues that this covenant is indeed valid"

The Methodist Report certainly does not say any such thing. The Methodist Conference report does not say that Jews have or have had any kind of right of return or restoration to the land whatsoever.

'and goes on to ask why Israel doesn't live up to it.'

No it doesn't. And it is highly evasive in actually saying whether Jews have any legitimate covenant with their or the Methodist god. It leaves it open as one under discussion.

The original report says "biblical Israel faded away", without mentioning the fact that from the beginning and most of Christian history and tradition that entailed the dispossession of the Jews of and from temple, Jerusalem and the land of Israel i.e. that dispossession and ethnic cleansing was Jewry's entirely just and deserved fate.

How different its moral criteria as applied to Palestinian Arab Christian dispossession.

There is absolutely no recognition of a Jewish right of return or restoration to the land whatsoever.

There is a constant insinuation that Jewish nationalism or Zionism is exclucivist, particularist or racist, and that is constantly made explicit in the course of the conference as vidoed.

No Methodist Christian in any of these forums makes a similar critique of Palestinian Christian nationalism, national or nationalist views, consciousness or discourse.

That Methodist Christians would think Jews, of one kind of another, were breaking a or the covenant is of a piece with the entirety of Christian history and tradition, pretty much. It is precisely because Jews were held to have broken the covenant that Jews were held to have been dispossessed, and vice versa.

But, once again, what a different, one might say opposite, moral criterion is applied to the state of Palestinian Christians.

Is Palestinian Christian dispossession evidence of their having broken any covenant? Was their denying Jews any right of return, seeking to exclude, expel or eliminate them any kind of breaking their own Christian covenant, for which their god might punish them?

Are Palestinian Christians criticised for any particular failure in Christian standards at all?

That is what I mean when I say that these Christians seem decidedly keener to apply their rigorous Christian standards, the standard of their covenant, to Israeli Jews than to their fellow Palestinian Arab Christian (and by extension Muslim) brethren.

But that is not Christian morality, in any absolute or universal sense.

It is Christian nationalism.

Deborah, it is a standard polemical, rhetorical technique to judge your adversary by his highest standards, your own side by a lower.

If Methodist Christians wish Israeli Jews to fulfil some absolute covenantal standard of righteousness, the so must they, and their Palestinian charges.

And they must begin with honesty, justice and humility. On behalf of the Jewish other, as well as their Christian selves.


Macairt

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 20:09

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'On the contrary, the Methodist Report argues that this covenant is indeed valid, and goes on to ask why Israel doesn't live up to it.'

There is no 'on the contrary'. It says that 'some' believe in a supercessionism which 'may' be used to justify sundry bad things.

It says 'these covenantal promises' are still valid, but then goes on to say that they depend on 'who' are Abraham's descendants i.e. who fulfil his standard of righteousness.

Nowhere is it ever said that Jewish dispossession entails any kind of right of return. Nowhere is it even suggested that Palestinian Christians (or Muslims) failed their own covenants with negative consequences.

There is only a narrative of, to all intents and purposes, sinless Palestinian Christian victimhood.

i.e. a Christian passion, in Palestinian national form, crucified by the alien Zionist Jews.


Macairt

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 20:19

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'It says 'these covenantal promises' are still valid'

Actually it says

'If we argue, however, that these
covenantal promises are still valid'

they only apply to those who adhere to Abrahamic righteousness.

But is this Christian test applied primarily, or even majorly, to Palestinian Christians, their morality, historically, or presently? How they have behaved towards Jews, Palestinian, Israeli or other?

Scarcely. These Christian criteria are applied almost exclusively to Jews, who are conveniently implied to be no true descendants, or heirs, of Abraham, thereby.


Macairt

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 20:24

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And while I am on the subject, that supercessionism has been Christianity for most Christians for most of Christian history. I do not say it is so for most Methodists today (though, at that conference, it clearly was for some), but an honest Christian appraisal, a self-examination, would at least acknowledge that it has played a part in creating and maintaining a Jewish dispossession and exile for nigh on 2000 years i.e. creating the injustice that Zionism seeks to address in the first place.

The first thing that an honest, just Christian appraisal would do, is to acknowledge some modicum of justice in a Jewish desire to return to the land, to live in freedom, without subjection or oppression, and the injustice of Palestinian Christians in seeking to prevent it.

Christian qua Christian, at any rate.


DeborahMaccoby

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 20:52

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Macairt, look at this bit from the Methodist Report, which surely shows considerable self-examination: "there is also a recognition that
sometimes this doctrine [of supersessionism] has led to a perverse tradition within Christianity of anti-Judaism and possibly even anti-Semitism and has sometimes resulted in the charge of ‘Christ-killer’
being the justification for pogrom, murder, discrimination and Holocaust against the Jewish people throughout Europe. No post-Holocaust Christian
theology can fail to deal with this ugly legacy especially given the foundational connection between
the Shoah and the creation of the State of Israel".

Can you show where in the Methodist Report the Jewish right to live in freedom in the land without subjection or oppression is denied? It is not denied at all - the authors of the report are simply asking that Palestinian Christians and Muslims also be allowed to lilve in freedom in the land without subjection or oppression.

Deborah


DeborahMaccoby

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 20:57

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Macairt, please note also this bit from the introduction:

"We continue to affirm the right of the
State of Israel to exist and that all
the inhabitants of Israel/Palestine
are entitled to their full human rights,
including the right to live in peace
and security and without the threat
of violence. For this report, the key
hindrance to security and a lasting
peace for all in the region is the
Occupation of Palestinian territory
by the State of Israel, now in its
fifth decade. This will be the central
focus of the report, drawing on the
witness of Israelis and Palestinians;
Jews, Christians and Muslims. In
all our deliberations, we have been
mindful of the prayer of a Palestinian
Christian:
'Pray not for Arab or Jew, for
Palestinian or Israeli, but pray rather
for ourselves that we might not divide
them in our prayers but keep them
both together in our hearts.'"

Deborah

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