Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Synod's shame

The Synod's shame

Melanie Phillips

Decent Christians are extremely upset, and rightly so, about the resolution passed at the General Synod a few days ago endorsing the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. The EAPPI aims to bring ‘internationals to the West Bank to experience life under occupation’. Its mission is to ‘accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions and to carry out concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation’, and it has called on supporters to stage sit-ins at Israeli Embassies, to hack government websites in order to promote its message and of course promote the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.

The EAPPI is a one-sided organisation which presents Israel entirely falsely as the regional aggressor and the Palestinians as its victims, whereas the opposite is the case. Last year a senior Fatah official, Abbas Zaki, declared that if Israel left the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria this would mean the end of Israel altogether -- the Palestinians’ true goal which they had to keep quiet. And he was by no means the first Palestinian to say this.

 But the EAPPI makes no acknowledgement that the sole reason for the ‘occupation’ is the refusal by the Palestinians to accept the right of Israel to be a Jewish state, and their resulting endless attempts to wage a war of annihilation against it by murdering Israeli citizens. Instead it casts Israel as the villain of the piece. In other words, the EAPPI promotes the demonisation and delegitimisation of Israel, the inversion of truth and justice and the double victimisation of the targets of mass murder.

As Cranmer says, the EAPPI is

‘...nothing but an insidious front for a pro-Palestinian campaign to propagate the partisan lie that, while Israel is besieged by child killers, infiltrated by suicide bombers, surrounded by Islamist propagandists and endures almost daily missiles launched at civilian areas, she is the aggressor, the terroriser, the occupying force.’

‘... the EAPPI ascribes Palestinian misery to apartheid Israel alone, consistently turning a blind eye to Palestinian aggression, corruption, rejectionism and incitement (not to mention Islamism, homophobia, racism and the oppression of women). The EAPPI is blind to antisemitism and deaf to the numerous overtures to peace which have been offered. They are ignorant of Israel’s need for security, and oblivious to the fact that she alone in the entire region is a vibrant, tolerant, multiracial, multi-faith society.’

It is simply astounding that, with Christians being persecuted by Muslims across the Third World, not least in Gaza and the disputed territories, being converted at knifepoint, driven from their homes and even burned in their churches in Africa and elsewhere, the Church of England remains silent about all this but instead singles out Israel for condemnation – Israel, the one country in the Middle East where Christians are protected, thriving and increasing.

Rub your eyes indeed. But then, the obsessive hatred of Israel, on routine display in the Church of England as elsewhere, has nothing whatever to do with evidence or reason. It has everything to do with bigotry. And in the case of the church, as became all too plain at that Synod meeting, with overt anti-Jewish bigotry. For as the Times of Israel reported, some of the clerics blamed the fact they had voted for the EAPPI upon the ’Jewish lobby’.

‘“A few people said that all the lobbying from the Jewish side led us to vote the other way,” said the Rt. Revd. Nigel McCulloch, who is chair of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), the UK’s oldest Jewish-Christian interfaith group. “There was over-lobbying by some members of the Jewish community. The CCJ actually warned against this, as we know how the Synod works and it’s not a good way to get things done.”’

So not only did the Synod effectively vote to punish the Jews for their own victimisation, but these unnamed clerics are now blaming the Jews for having made them do so!

McCulloch denied that the reference to the ‘Jewish lobby’ was in any way anti-Jew. But why did these clerics single out the Jewish lobby for blame, whereas the apparently equally vigorous Palestinian lobby escaped similar censure?  And even if this perceived Jewish ‘over-lobbying’ did get up their noses, why should this have caused them to vote in a way they otherwise would not have done – other than out of spite?

In fact, what was said at the Synod appears to have been even worse than this. For in a statement after the vote, the President of the Jewish Board of Deputies Vivien Wineman said:

‘To hear the debate at Synod littered with references to ‘powerful lobbies’, the money expended by the Jewish community, ‘Jewish sounding names’ and the actions of the community ‘bringing shame on the memory of victims of the Holocaust’, is deeply offensive and raises serious questions about the motivation of those behind this motion.’

It is not surprising that the church’s hatred of Israel should spill over into overt anti-Jewish bigotry. For this vote hardly came out of the blue. For years now, the Church of England has been playing with anti-Jewish theological fire. Its close links with radical Palestinian Christians have kick-started the ancient and previously wholly discredited Christian calumny of ‘replacement theology’, which holds that by rejecting Jesus the Jews forfeited the love of God who as a result transferred to the Christians all the promises he had previously made to the Jews. This obnoxious doctrine was behind much Christian persecution of the Jews through the centuries, and was only pushed underground with the Holocaust. But with radical Palestinian Christians fusing this ancient calumny with their own lies about the Jews of Israel having pushed them out and the Palestinians’ need to replace them, replacement theology is disgracefully once again mainstream in the church.

So who can be surprised that the Synod has descended into the Israel-hating, Jew-hating sewer?