Friday, December 14, 2007

The politicisation of Christmas and the demonisation of Israel

Honest Reporting on the media's annual "let's blame Bethlehem's plight entirely on Israel" scrum. The piece is also worth reading for its commentary on the radically anti-Zionist (and sometimes plain anti-Semitic) Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, an organisation which is given patronage by Western Evangelicals Stephen Sizer and Gary Burge.


Stephen said...


You need to be very careful when you accuse people of being anti-Semitic. Please provide documentary evidence or withdraw and apologise.


Richard said...

me-thinks stephen protesteth too loudly!!!

The people mentioned make all sorts of demonstrable exaggerated and false accusations, not yet heard of a withdrawal of apology from them

James said...


You are right, of course, that we must always be careful of waving the anti-Semitism card. But anti-Semites will always deny the charge and as Howard Jacobson points out so well here , because criticism of Israel is not in itself anti-Semitic, anti-Semites hide behind that excuse.

I do NOT for a moment say that legitimate criticism of Israel is antisemitic. I DO however maintain that the accusation of "deicide" very definitely is, and Naeem Ateek (director Sabeel) has played just that card, see the material on Sabeel here and here.

Ateek's motif for Palestinian suffering is crucifixion. And not simply crucifixion but the crucifixion of Jesus. He has explicitly likened Palestinian suffering to Jesus' crucifixion. At least when John Lennon whinged that people were trying to crucify him, he didn't directly liken himself to Christ.

Ateek's analogy (in fact it is not really an analogy; he says that it seems to him that Jesus is being recrucified and the Palestinians with him) is not only grossly distasteful, it is also blasphemous. No human being - Jew or Arab - can be likened to Christ and no human suffering is worthy to be compared to the unique suffering of the Messiah. For a prominent Anglican cleric to make the analogy not once but repeatedly is inexcusable and deplorable.

The canard might not be quite as bad if those who were suffering were all Christians. At least Ateek could then draw on Acts 9:4 for support.

I know of virtually no Messianic Jews, Christian Zionists or Christian lovers of the Jewish people who would liken the undeniable suffering of the Jewish people at, say, the period of the Holocaust to the sufferings of Messiah. It is when this is taken into account, I think, that it becomes appropriate to question Ateek's motive, which must be, amongst other things, to show that the Jews don't change. In his eyes, they are still Christ killers - and for him to hide behind the facade that he is "merely criticising Israel" is flatly unconvincing.