March 2012 Archives

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Father Dave writes: I find it deeply encouraging to be reminded that there is more to the Evangelical Christian scene than the Christian Zionism of Pastor Hagee et al. In the end the Spirit of God and truth will prevail!

Christ at the Checkpoint: Seven Affirmations

The international Christ at the Checkpoint 2012 Conference begins tomorrow. There is a growing sense of expectation that God will use this unique global fellowship for his purposes to further his kingdom as well as to bring justice, peace and reconciliation in Israel-Palestine. The following affirmations reflect the views and hopes of the conference organizers.

Affirmation #1: Israelis and Palestinians
We affirm that all people are created in the image of God. In turn we are called to honor the dignity of every human being and to respect their inalienable rights. We affirm that Jews and Palestinians are loved by God and capable of living together within peace, justice and security. This is God’s view toward all of humanity, residing in any political boundary and manifested through the mission of Jesus in bringing to everyone, “life to the full” (John 10:10).

Affirmation #2: Theology and Land
The New Testament clearly teaches that God continues to invite Jews and Arabs into His kingdom and in no way is finished with any people group. Further, Scripture speaks of Jesus as its ultimate fulfillment. For example, the need for animal sacrifices, Levitical priesthood, and expectation of a rebuilt Temple, find their ultimate fulfillment and completion in Jesus Christ.

Affirmation #3: The Palestinian-Israeli conflict
As followers of Jesus Christ we regret more than 60 years of conflict. We look forward to the time when the conflict will end and both peoples will enjoy genuine reconciliation. We commit ourselves to be peacemakers and to this ministry of reconciliation. As such we stand resolutely against all forms of violence and racism, regardless of the perpetrators.

Affirmation #4: The Second Coming of Christ
There are several views which Christ followers hold to explain the future. Rather than focus on the signs of the return of Christ, our reading of the New Testament indicates that our primary mandate is to proclaim the “Good News” to the entire world.

Affirmation #5: Zionism
Modern Zionism is a political movement created to meet the aspirations of Jews around the world who longed for a homeland. It has become ethnocentric, privileging one people at the expense of others. Christianity calls believers in Jesus to focus on building God’s kingdom on earth.

Affirmation #6: Messianic Jews
Messianic Jews are the brothers and sisters of all who follow Jesus or Yeshua. We are one family bound together in a fellowship of love. Although diversity in political opinions as well as theological emphasis inevitably exist, we refuse to allow these views to hinder our fellowship in Jesus.

Affirmation #7: Palestinian and Israeli Authority
The Bible teaches us to pray for all in political authority. We are called to obey them, whether they are Israeli or Palestinian, as an expression of our faith in God’s sovereign rule. We are also called to be a prophetic voice, challenging injustice creatively and non-violently.

We trust these seven affirmations help clarify the views of the conference organizers and will encourage you to participate in the Christ at the Checkpoint conference 2012.

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Father Roy writes:   The story of Baroness Jenny Tonge is worth following.  Baroness Tonge is a member of Britain’s Parliament, and she has been targeted by Israel’s lobby in the UK … because … she has spoken publicly and critically of the policies of Israel’s current government.  She’s under an enormous amount of pressure, but she refuses to apologize for her remarks.  She says she is not without Allies.  Thanks to Sami Joseph for putting the information into circulation.  Pasted below is a link to a short audio of her speaking for herself, and there’s an article about her plight by Stuart Littlewood.  Peace, Roy

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Craven Liberal Democrats dump human rights champion Jenny Tonge

By Stuart Littlewood

3 March 2012

Stuart Littlewood argues that the sacking of Jenny Tonge – one of Britain’s most committed campaigners for human rights – from the Liberal Democrats’ parliamentary party after criticizing Israel highlights the hypocrisy of the UK’s Liberal Democrats, the cowardice of their leader Nick Clegg and the extent to which the Israel lobby has penetrated British political life.

It was no surprise to read in the Guardian on 29 February that Baroness Jenny Tonge, a Liberal Democrat peer who has given unstinting support to the Palestinian struggle for freedom, had been sacked after declaring that Israel would not last for ever. She rejected an ultimatum from party leader Nick Clegg to apologise and said she stood by her remarks. 

See full post here: www.redress.cc…

See also this BBC Radio 4 interview with the Baroness Tonge: news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9701000/9701612.stm…

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This is encouraging. Simultaneous to the AIPAC gathering, leading clergy from the Holy Land – Christian, Muslim and Jew – have been meeting with leading US government officials, advocating peace.  Once again it is made clear that the Israel/Palestine conflict has nothing to do with any incompatibility between the Abrahamic religions.

Delegation from the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land in Washington DC

Posted: 27 Feb 2012 04:25 PM PST

A delegation of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land visited Washington to speak with administration officials and congressional leaders about the role religious leaders can play in Middle East peace-making.

Peace in the Holy Land is a necessity – and possible.  So says a delegation from the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land  visiting Washington DC this week to speak to administration officials, congressional leaders and interested lay people.  The group, made up of top Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders in the Holy Land, have been working together for years now to bring a just peace to their beloved land. 

They spoke Tuesday at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, stressing the role of education in peace-making.  I have asked for a transcript of the panel to be put up at www.us…, but don’t know if that is possible.  

A written statement from their delegation states that their goals for this visit include advocating for equal, free access to all holy sites and for respecting all three narratives of Jerusalem, Jewish, Christian and Muslim.  The council speaks out regularly against incitement and has commissioned a study of Palestinian and Israeli textbooks to monitor and hopefully lead to change of material deemed to incite hatred and racism.  The council is also working to launch a project to prepare emerging religious leaders to enable them to also work cooperatively toward a just peace.

They say that religious leaders can and should be a great help to address entrenched issues that touch on both religion and politics, and are ready and eager to be of service.

Read their full statement of goals and a message from this delegation.

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Father Roy writes: It appears that President Obama did not allow himself to be bamboozled this time.  The following report published in an Israeli newspaper must be causing AIPAC a great deal of chagrin.   Peace, Roy

U.S. denies Obama promised bunker busters to Netanyahu

White House statement comes after Israeli media reports claim U.S. President agreed to give Israel the GBU-28 bombs; Netanyahu: Strike on Iran could be matter of weeks or years.

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not discuss in their meetings this week a reported Israeli request for advanced U.S. military technology that could be used against Iran, the White House said on Thursday.

"In meetings the president had there was no such agreement proposed or reached," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. Obama and Netanyahu met in the Oval office for two hours on Monday and then had lunch together.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama - Reuters

Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama.

Photo by: Reuters

Carney’s comment came after an Israeli official quoted by the Maariv newspaper earlier on Thursday indicated that Israel has asked the United States for advanced "bunker-buster" bombs and refueling planes that could improve its ability to attack Iran’s underground nuclear sites.

On Tuesday, Haaretz quoted a U.S. official as indicating that Netanyahu had asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for the GBU-28 bunker busting bombs as well as for advanced refueling aircraft.

The source added that Obama then instructed Panetta to start work on a request to work directly with Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the matter, indicating that the U.S. administration was inclined to look favorably upon the request as soon as possible.

Referring to the prospect of a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, Netanyahu told Channel 10 earlier Thursday that a strike of Iran’s nuclear facilities could be a matter of years, saying:" If I don’t make the right call [on Iran] maybe there won’t be anyone to explain to."

"Who will I explain it to? The next generations? The ones that will not come?" the PM asked.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

International observers under threats of arrest and death by Israeli Armys Golani Brigade in AL Khalil (Hebron)

March 8th, 2012

Christian Peacemaker Teams,

Al-Khalil (Hebron), Palestine
cptheb@cpt.org…


Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has been threatened with arrest and death by the Israeli armies Golani Brigade since publication of the CPT report, Under Attack: Golani Brigade’s war on the Palestinian population of Al-Khalil (Hebron). The report documents the recent escalation of human rights abuse in Al Khalil. These threats are an attempt to prevent CPT and other international organizations from continuing to document ongoing human rights abuses, including violence and harassment, committed by soldiers against the civilian population of Al Khalil.

According to International law and Israeli law, international observers have the right to document the actions of soldiers unless their presence interferes directly with the military. Members of CPT have made it clear that they are present in Al Khalil merely to document, but have been told by soldiers that they are subject to arrest whenever they attempt to follow military patrols through residential areas, film, or remain present during searches or interrogations of civilians. Twice in recent weeks soldiers threatened to shoot or kill a CPT member. In multiple instances soldiers used the threat of arrest to prevent CPT from observing and documenting incidents which included the detention or intimidation of children.

Summary of Incidences follows

Incidences when CPT was threaten with arrest while attempting to observe the Israeli Armys Golani brigade:

On February 14,at around 4:00 PM two people from CPT encountered a patrol of eight Golani soldiers in the Old City. The soldiers told them that if they attempted to follow the patrol they would be arrested. The soldiers body searched two men against a wall in Bab al Baladiya, and then stopped a 12 year old boy, who was headed for the Ibrahimi mosque and was carrying a large plastic bag of folded tissues. After being ordered by the Soldiers, the boy opened the top of the bag. The soldiers then ripped the bag open and then took him by the coat and lead him out of sight of CPT. The soldiers told CPT members that if they attempted to follow they would be arrested. The boy was held for about 15 minutes out of the sight of internationals and was then released.

On February 18 around 4:00 PM, Golani soldiers in Bab al Baladiya detained 4 youths, age 12-17, and began to take them through the Old City. The soldiers wanted to know were the boys lived. Two people from CPT were present and followed the soldiers, along with the mother of one of the boys. The soldiers used their rifles to shove the mother and CPT back, and repeatedly told CPT and the mother that if they continued to walk with them they would be arrested. The soldiers took the boys into a nearby settlement and then to the Kyriat Arba police station. They were later released.

On February 20th at around 8:30 AM, CPT encountered a group of four Golani soldiers who were stopping people and checking IDs in the shopping area of the Old City. After checking IDs for about 45 minutes, the soldiers were joined by four more soldiers and the patrol moved up into the nearby residential streets. When members of CPT attempted to follow 20 meters behind the patrol, the soldiers threatened them with arrest. CPT explained that they were not intending to interfere with the soldiers and the soldiers told them, We are the law and we say you cannot follow us.

On February 20th at around 6pm, soldiers detained a Palestinian photographer and an international observer at checkpoint 56 for 1 hour for taking pictures. The soldiers told CPT that if they took photos of the detention they would be detained and arrested.

On February 26th at around 4 PM a patrol of six Golani soldiers stopped four young boys above Baba al Baladiya and took them up into the residential area above the bus station. They told a member of CPT that he could not follow and would be arrested if he continued. The soldiers were showing the boys photos on a camera and asking who was in the photos and where the people lived. Another member of CPT approached from another direction and met the soldiers and the boys near the Spanish academy. The soldiers again told that member of CPT that she would be arrested if she approached them.The children were then released.

On March 3rd two people from CPT attempted to follow a patrol of 12 Golani soldiers in the old city in the late afternoon but were told if they continued they would be arrested.

On March 6th at around 3PM, A Golani patrol took 2 young boys (about 10 years of age) up to the rooftop of a Palestinian home in the old city to interrogate them. Two CPT members followed them to the roof to observe the incident. The CPT members were told to go down or they would be arrested. The boys were released after a few minutes and told CPT the soldiers wanted to know who was throwing stones at the soldiers and who was breaking windows at the settlement

Incidences when Israeli Armys Golani Brigade threatened to shoot and/or kill CPT:

On February 25th at around 3:30 PM during the weekly tour of Israeli settlers through the Old City, Golani soldiers told CPT and other international observers that they had to be back 15 meters from the soldiers. CPT moved back and continued to observe, whereupon a soldier ran forward towards CPT and International observers, aimed his rifle at them, and said, I want to shoot you through the head with a bullet.

On February 5th, around 7:30 AM, a member of CPT stopped to observe a Golani soldier yelling at two Palestinians from the roof top. When the CPTer remained to watch, the soldier told CPT to leave. CPT responded by saying No. The soldier then pulled out his gun, looked through the scope, and pointed it at the CPT member and told him to leave again and motioned with his gun. The CPT member left the sight of the solider and returned with a camera. The soldier then stopped pointing his gun at the CPT and left the viewing area of the CPT member.

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