Monday, June 30, 2008

Good news for a change

Boycott hit by a wave of collaborations, here

Jewish Groups welcome Presbyterians' move towards balance, here

Monday, June 23, 2008

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Howard Jacobson on the boycott

Have a listen, here - it's about 10 minutes long, funny, and devastatingly brilliant.

Monday, June 16, 2008

UNRWA: Barrier to Peace

(From this site)

UNRWA: Barrier to Peace
Jonathan Spyer
Perspectives Papers No. 44, May 27, 2008
May 28, 2008

Executive Summary: The United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) was created under the jurisdiction of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with the unique responsibility of solely aiding the Palestinians. Due to this special status, the UNRWA perpetuates, rather than resolves, the Palestinian refugee issue, and therefore serves as a major obstacle toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Like no other UN body, UNRWA's definition of refugees includes not only the refugees themselves, but also their descendents. Moreover, refugees keep their status even if they have gained citizenship. UNRWA employs teachers affiliated with Hamas and allows the dissemination of Hamas messages in its schools. The Hamas coup in Gaza of July 2007 has resulted in a Hamas takeover of UNRWA facilities there. Therefore, UNRWA's activities require urgent action. The Agency should be dissolved and its services transferred to more appropriate administering organizations.


Millions of refugees worldwide - over 130 million since the end of World War II - have come under the responsibility of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which aims to resettle and rehabilitate refugees. On December 8, 1949, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 302, establishing an agency dedicated solely to "direct relief and works programs" for the Palestinian Arab refugees - UNRWA (United Nations Relief Works Agency) - making it a unique body.

UNRWA exists in order to perpetuate, rather than to resolve, the Palestinian refugee issue. No Palestinian has ever lost his or her refugee status. There are hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and their descendants who are citizens of Jordan, for example - yet as far as UNRWA is concerned they are still refugees, eligible for aid. UNRWA, over the past 60 years, has transformed itself into a central vehicle for the perpetuation of the refugee problem, and into a major obstacle for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Problem of Definition

When UNRWA first began counting refugees in 1948, it did so in a way without precedent - seeking to maximize the number of those defined as refugees. UNRWA counts every descendant of the original refugees as a refugee themselves - leading to an increase of 400 percent in the number since 1948.

This was a politically motivated definition to imply that either Palestinians would remain refugees forever or until the day that they returned in a triumph to a Palestinian Arab state that included the territory where Israel existed. If they built lives elsewhere, even after many generations - decades or centuries - they still remained officially refugees. In contrast to other situations around the world, other refugees only retained that status until they found permanent homes elsewhere, presumably as citizens of other countries.

Moreover, refugee status was based solely on the applicant's word. Even UNRWA admitted its figures were inflated in a 1998 Report of the Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (July 1997-30 June 1998): "UNRWA registration figures are based on information voluntarily supplied by refugees primarily for the purpose of obtaining access to Agency services and hence cannot be considered statistically valid demographic data."

Fostering Conflict

In October 2004, then UNRWA Commissioner General Peter Hansen publicly admitted for the first time that Hamas members were on the UNWRA payroll, adding, "I don't see that as a crime. Hamas as a political organization does not mean that every member is a militant and we do not do political vetting and exclude people from one persuasion as against another." Consequently, taxpayers' money in countries where Hamas was legally defined as a terrorist organization, like the United States and Canada, was being illegally used to fund Hamas-controlled activities.

Hanson's view that Hamas was a normal political organization whose doctrines did not interfere with the governance and education of Palestinians remains the position of UNRWA. This has been so even when Hamas has committed violence against other Palestinians. After the organization seized Gaza by force in July 2007, UNRWA immediately indicated to Hamas that it was eager to get back to providing its services. Nothing was changed in its procedure or performance after the takeover.

A graphic demonstration of this issue was the death of Awad al-Qiq in May 2008. Qiq had a long career as a science teacher in an UNRWA school and had been promoted to run its Rafah Prep Boys School. He was also the leading bombmaker for Islamic Jihad. He was killed while supervising a factory to make rockets and other weapons for use against Israel, located a short distance from the school. Qiq was thus simultaneously building weapons for attacking Israeli civilians while indoctrinating his students to do the same. Islamic Jihad did not need to pay him a salary for his terrorist activities. The UN and the American taxpayer were already doing so.

The increasing numbers of UNRWA teachers who openly identify with radical groups have created a teachers' bloc that ensures the election of members of Hamas and individuals committed to Islamist ideologies. Using classrooms as a place to spread their radical messages, these teachers have also gravitated to local Palestinian elections. Thus, UNRWA's education system has become a springboard for the political activities of Hamas. For example, Minister of Interior and Civil Affairs Minister Saeed Siyam of Hamas, was a teacher in UNRWA schools in Gaza from 1980 to 2003. He then became a member of UNRWA's Arab Employees Union, and has headed the Teachers Sector Committee. Other notable Hamas graduates of the UNRWA education system include Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Abd al-Aziz Rantisi, the former Hamas chief.

Fostering Dependency

UNRWA's budget has been supported by many countries of which the United States and Western countries have been the largest contributors. In 1990, UNRWA's annual budget was over $292 million, and by 2000 it had increased to $365 million. Despite this seemingly significant rise, however, actual allocations among the various refugee camps has decreased - compounded by a very high birth rate and burgeoning camp populations. Refugees were discouraged from moving out and had the incentive of being on welfare if they remained.

Per capita spending among refugees in camps thus declined from $200 in services per year per refugee in the 1970s to about $70 currently. This situation has been most evident in Lebanon, where the government provides little if any additional assistance to the Palestinians.

UNRWA provides jobs to a large number of Palestinians (it has a full time staff of 23,000). While the UN High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) avoid employing locals who are also recipients of agency services, UNRWA does not make this distinction. UNRWA thus keeps a large population of refugees and their descendants in a permanent state of welfare dependency, financed by the western taxpayer. In so doing, it acts as a barrier to attempts to make the refugees into productive citizens. Bureaucracies have a tendency to become self-perpetuating. In the case of UNRWA, this tendency is exacerbated by the fact that the organization's raison d'etre is the preserving of a refugee problem, rather than finding a solution for it.


The UN erred when it created a UN body devoted exclusively to one refugee population and with a modus operandi contradicting that of all other relief institutions. Four steps are required to bring the international approach to the Palestinian refugee issue in line with standard practice on similar situations.

First, UNRWA itself should be dissolved. Second, the services UNRWA currently provides should be transferred to other UN agencies, notably the UNHCR, which have a long experience with such programs. Third, responsibility for normal social services should be turned over to the Palestinian Authority. A large portion of the UNRWA staff should be transferred to that governmental authority. Fourth, donors should use the maximum amount of oversight to ensure transparency and accountability.

Dr. Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya Israel.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Longest Hatred 27

Sickening white supremacist "Christian" antisemitism, here

Deborah Lipstadt on the UCU boycott, here. When someone of her stature says something is antisemitic, you'd like to think that even the fine minds who head up the UCU would sit up and listen.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The blasphemous heterodoxy of Sabeel

Read Paul Wilkinson's report on the 2004 conference of the Sabeel Ecumenical Palestinian Liberation Theology Center, here, needs to be read to be believed. Sabeel appears to be able to accommodate all shades of theological opinion, including Jesuits, Feminists, New-Agers and Evangelicals, as long as they are opposed to the state of Israel.

Mitri Raheb, the Director of the International Centre of Bethlehem, for example, in his “alternative reading” of Acts 1:6-11 described Christ’s disciples as “nationalistic”, “narrow-minded”, and “blinded” to the future.

Fr Peter du Brul, S.J. commenced his Bible study” of Genesis 12:1-3 – which was apparently peppered with profanities – with the comment, “The gods must be crazy”.

It seems that the late Revd Dr Michael Prior, who was Chairman of the Catholic Biblical Association of Great Britain and a member of the International Editorial Advisory Board of the Journal of Islamic Jerusalem Studies, was the most outspoken critic of the Scriptures among the speakers. Speaking of the authors of the biblical narratives, Prior said, “It seems to me that they were very narrow minded, xenophobic, perhaps militaristic spin-headed bigots. The Church is full of them, full of them!”

Prior declared that the Bible should carry the warning: “This is a dangerous book. Reading it may damage somebody else’s health” He referred to Joshua as “the patron-saint of ethnic cleansers” and “a continuous genocidist” and called the conquest of Canaan “an abomination”.

All of which begs the question: why does this professing evangelical support Sabeel?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Friday, June 06, 2008

Israel's police tried to ban this Israeli News broadcast on the Ami Ortiz bombing twice, third time they failed

[Adapted from an email from an Israeli pastor]

Have a look at this link to a news report done by Israel's Channel 1 News. This news report on Ami Ortiz was the highest rated show on Israeli TV during the time it was aired due to the number of viewers. As you will learn from the video, the Israeli police attempted to stop the airing of this report by taking Channel 1 to court twice. When their first attempt failed, they brought it before a higher court. Thankfully, the second attempt failed as well. The Lord used the fact that they were trying to cover up the case to bring greater publicity and awareness. Advertisements were made to make the public aware of how much the police are trying to block any information to be revealed about the case. It made people more interested.

The airing of the report also caused public officials as well as other media outlets to take interest in what's happening. They are starting to wonder what is being hidden and why. This is pressuring the police to finally start working on the case after they've sat on the evidence without doing anything.

As you watch this report, please pray. Here are some prayer points:

Pray for Ami:
Pray that the Lord would continue to speak to Ami and give him love, peace, hope, and joy.
Pray that the Lord would continue to perform miracles on his physical body. He still faces multiple operations to reattach severed nerves in his arms and a long road of physical therapy. Pray for miraculous healing.
Pray for his parents

Pray that the Lord would continue to give all involved more grace and strength for each day.
Pray that the Lord will give them wisdom and discernment as they deal with the police, officials, lawyers, and the media.
Pray that the Lord will continue to give them courage and boldness to proclaim His name.
Pray for their children:
Pray that the Lord will use this to work in the hearts of Israeli Messianic children and not be a point of discouragement.
Pray for the believers:
Pray that the Lord will continue to unite the believers all over Israel and the world through this matter.
Pray that the Lord will cast out all fear through His love and that they will be bold and courageous in declaring their faith.
Pray that the media will not twist any facts, but present the truth so that the Lord will be glorified.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Longest Hatred 26

Robert Fine's fantastic piece on the UCU boycott motion, here

Anthony Julius on the boycott motion and the UCU's institutionalised antisemitism, here


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Anti-Christian 'Cleansing' Campaign Picks Up Pace in Gaza

Attacks on Christian targets and those identified with Western culture have grown more frequent in Gaza in the past two years, and especially since the Hamas takeover in June 2007, experts say. The targets have included churches, Christian and United Nations schools, the American International School, libraries and Internet cafes.

The most recent incident occurred this past Saturday, May 31, when gunmen attacked the guards at the Al Manara school, stole a vehicle belonging to the Baptist Holy Book Society which operates the school and threatened the society's director. The Hamas leadership is not acting to stop the attacks and no one has been brought to justice.

Global jihad involvement
An Israeli intelligence report determined that there has been an increase in the number of attacks on Christian figures and institutions, as well as those associated with Western values. The attacks are being perpetrated by elements identified with the global jihad and radical Islam. In the past two years, groups associated with Al-Qaeda took responsibility for attacks upon Christians and Christian institutions with the expressly-stated goal of driving Christians out of Gaza.

The Christian community in Gaza numbers around 3,000. According to the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center (IICC), the attacks on Christians have included the following:

  • May 18, 2008: a large bomb exploded at the entrance to a fast-food restaurant near Al-Quds Open University in the center of Gaza City. The restaurant was completely destroyed. According to the owner, it was the second time his establishment had been attacked.
  • May 16, 2008: a bomb exploded in the Rahabat al-Wardia school run by nuns in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City. Hamas condemned the incident and a call was made to the police to bring the criminals to justice. The previous year, when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, the school was subjected to thefts and an arson attack.
  • April 3, 2008: a monument in the Gaza Strip's foreign nationals' cemetery was blown up. Hamas promised to investigate.
  • February 15, 2008: Three gunmen from the "Army of Islam in the Land of Ribat," a network headed by Mumtaz Dughmush, broke into the YMCA library in Gaza City and set off a bomb which caused extensive damage. Hamas police condemned the event, calling it "a criminal act" and promising to investigate. The Hamas security forces detained a number of Army of Islam operatives but released them shortly thereafter, following a threat to use force to free them. After the event, senior Hamas figures met with senior Christian figures to express solidarity.
  • January 10, 2008: a group called "Army of the Believers -- the Al-Qaeda Organization in Palestine," attacked the International School in Beit Lahiya twice, burning vehicles and stealing equipment. According to a statement issued two days later, the school was accused of spreading polytheism and hatred for Islam. The attacks were timed to coincide with U.S. President George W. Bush's visit to Israel.
  • December 31, 2007: the "Friends of the Sunnah Bayt al-Maqdis" issued a manifesto on the Pal-Today Website, affiliated with Islamic Jihad, threatening to attack anyone who participated in New Year's Eve celebrations.
  • October 6, 2007, elements linked to Hamas abducted Rami Khadr Ayad from his home and shot him to death; he was a Christian who worked for the Holy Bible Society. The Hamas administration condemned the murder and opened an investigation whose results are so far unknown.
  • June 19, 2007: during the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip Hamas gunmen attacked and vandalized a monastery and church.
  • April 21, 2007: elements linked to the global jihad attacked the American International School in Gaza City.
  • April 15, 2007: a group calling itself "The Swords of Truth in the Land of Ribat" set off bombs in two Internet cafes and a store selling Christian books, causing damage.