Monday, April 28, 2008

Overstepping the mark

I'm belatedly reading Stephen Sizer's latest critique of Christian Zionism, Zion's Christian Soldiers? (IVP, 2007). If I'm honest, there's a lot of value in his critique of loopy American dispensationalist Christians and their theological and political views. I spat feathers, though, when I read this statement on pp. 69-70:

"The 'dividing wall of hostility', typified by the barrier that separated Jews and Gentiles in the temple, has been broken down by Jesus Christ. It is ironic, if tragic, that despite his willingness to comply with all the petty temple regulations concerning ritual purity, Paul would eventually be arrested for allegedly bringing Greeks into the temple and defiling God's house (Acts 21:28-29). Today, their successors in the government of Israel are seeking to erect a much higher and longer 'separation barrier' to preserve their racial identity and exclusive claim to the land of Palestine."

"Today, their successors..." Why not simply say, "Those racist Jews have learnt nothing"? Since there are both Jews and Arabs both to the East and to the West of Israel's security barrier, Sizer's claim is demonstrably false. Rather, the security fence was built to stop Israelis being killed, and has been demonstrably successful: 431 Israelis were killed in 137 suicide bombings between September 2000 and the completion of the northern and most of the Jerusalem sections of the wall, 100 in March 2000 alone. After the completion of the wall in the north, there was not a single terrorist attack across that section. By December 2004, the number of suicide attacks launched from the West Bank had fallen by 84% in less than two years. (Figures from Sir Martin Gilbert's updated Israel, A History, p. 631.) Since Sizer neither mourns these Israeli dead nor condemns (or even acknowledges) their killers, and instead denounces the structure designed to protect Israelis as a symbol of racist imperialism, I can only conclude that he has no objection to Israelis being killed*.

Sadly, this is not an isolated instance in Sizer's book. At page 8, the Union of Jewish Students (i.e. your friendly local J-Soc) is cast as an opponent of intellectual freedom. On the same page, Sizer refers approvingly to Jewish Voices for Peace, a left-wing hate group which equates Israeli policies with the Holocaust and cooperates with extreme left-wing organisations the Socialist Workers' Party and Revolutionary Communist League. On page 10, Sizer asks, "Why is Israel allowed to retain nuclear weapons, while Iran is threatened with a pre-emptive attack for aspiring to obtain nuclear technology?", yet inexcusably fails to mention that Iran's president has denied the first Holocaust and has threatened to perpetrate a second. At footnote 12 on page 6, Sizer draws on the conspiracy theories of Mearsheimer and Walt. In a footnote on page 15, he refers approvingly to the flawed and highly partisan works of Jimmy Carter and Ilan Pappe (see here and here), and also to Uri Davis, a PLO observer member who helped to promote the antisemitic play "Perdition" in the 1980s, which alleged that Zionist leaders collaborated with the Nazis in perpetrating the Holocaust.

But then, what should we expect from a man who demonises supporters of Israel as "people in the shadows" and for whom Uri Davis, neo-Nazi favourite Israel Shahak and Holocaust-denier-defender and intellectual crook Noam Chomsky are "leading Jewish academics"? For all that Sizer says that "Anti-Semitism must be repudiated unequivocally" (p. 15), some of his terminology and sources seem to point in the other direction. If Sizer wishes to make legitimate criticisms of Israeli policies and make theological arguments, he is free to do that: but why does he have to employ such dubious sources and phrases in the process?

Saddest of all, though, is the fact that, Zion's Christian Soldiers? has, like Sizer's previous book, been published by IVP, a reputable Christian publishing house, and has been endorsed by various prominent Christian leaders, including Dick Lucas and Rico Tice. OK, so we cannot expect reviewers to check every source and factual assertion (though we might hope that a responsible publisher would), but frankly this is of little comfort to those of us who are Jewish, who recognise antisemitism when we see it, and who are all too aware of what antisemitism has led to through the centuries.

* None of this is to deny that the wall undoubtedly causes serious hardship and suffering to the Palestinians; it clearly does. I should also say that I disapprove of those instances where the wall cuts into land beyond the Green Line, which could otherwise have been allocated to a future Palestinian state.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Union bans anti-boycott activist

Here. How much lower can my union sink?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Israel beyond the conflict

Messianic Jews and Arab born-again Christians under the spotlight, at

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Important Legal Victory in Israeli Supreme Court

In a landmark decisionyesterday, the Supreme Court of Israel ratified a settlement between twelve Messianic Jewish believers and the State of Israel, which states that being a Messianic Jew does not prevent one from receiving citizenship in Israel under the Law of Return or the Law of Citizenship, if one is a descendent of Jews on one's father's side (and thus not Jewish according to halacha).

This Supreme Court decision brought an end to a legal battle that has carried on for two and a half years. The applicants were represented by Yuval Grayevsky and Calev Myers from the offices of Yehuda Raveh & Co., and their legal costs were subsidized by the Jerusalem Institute of Justice.

All twelve of the applicants were denied citizenship solely based on grounds that they belong to the Messianic Jewish community. Most of them received letters stating that they would not receive citizenship because they "commit missionary activity". One of the applicants was told by a clerk at the Ministry of Interior that because she "committed missionary activity", she is "acting against the interests of the State of Israel and against the Jewish people". These allegations are not only untrue, but they also do not constitute legal grounds to deny one's right to immigrate to Israel.

This important victory paves the way for persons who have Jewish ancestry on their father's side to immigrate to Israel freely, whether or not they belong to the Messianic Jewish community. This is yet another battle won in our war to establish equality in Israel for the Messianic Jewish community just like every other legitimate stream of faith within the Jewish world.

(From the Jerusalem Insititute of Justice)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What is the relationship between anti-Zionism and antisemitism?

David Hirsh's paper, here, is quite the best thing I have read on this topic. He is more critical of Israel than I would sometimes be, but he is spot on when he comes to analysing antisemitism. Central to his argument is his use of the "Livingstone Formulation", which I posted about here.

Morrissey breaks the boycott.

The world's greatest living Mancunian gets it right, here. If you dislike Mozzer and/or The Smiths, repent!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The 60-Year War for Israel's history

Efarim Karsh, as ever, is spot on here.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The sickening reality of evangelical antisemitism III

A friend of mine recently made contact with a young Messianic Jew studying at a Bible College in the North of England. Apparently last year one of his lecturers said, "we are Israel now, we are the Jews but without the big noses". Sadly, this kind of racist comment from evangelicals has long since ceased to surprise me. Do you think the lecturer would dare say, "Simon of Cyrene is probably the only nigger mentioned in the New Testament"?!?