israel and palestine

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Father Roy writes: A challenge like this one deserves the widest possible circulation, throughout the entire Anglican Communion and beyond.  How shall we Episcopalians respond?  Honestly?  Courageously?  Ever so politely?  Impotently?  I highlighted a few of Littlewood’s points which I found especially worthy of note.   Peace, Roy

(nb. highlights are courtesy of Father Roy)

Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams – the retiring Archbishop of Canterbury

source: www.redressonline.com…

January 24, 2013

Zionists call the shots in the Anglican Church

By Stuart Littlewood

Rowan Williams, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, has stepped down from his post (sigh of relief).

Williams’s role as a figure of unity in the worldwide Anglican Communion, which is represented in over 130 countries, meant that he was in a position to “bring the needs and voices of those fighting poverty, disease and the effects of conflict to the attention of national and international policy makers and donor agencies”. Or so we were told.

Bearing witness meekly, silently

In 2010, when the archbishop announced he was planning a visit to Gaza just a year after the slaughter and devastation of Operation Cast Lead, I asked his Lambeth Palace office for more information. Whom would he meet? Would he see the health minister? Would he sit down and talk with the elected prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, man of God to man of God (for Mr Haniyeh is an imam)? Would he do Gaza (and all of us) proud by spending a generous amount of his time with senior members of the Islamic faith?

His office didn’t reply.

According to the Archbishop’s website he did none of those things. At least, he didn’t mention them if he did. Unless I’m mistaken, he said nothing about Gaza in the House of Lords, where he had the ear of Parliament and the support of 25 other Church of England bishops.

Yet he began his Ecumenical letter that Easter by declaring: “Christians need to witness boldly and clearly.”

A lady wrote to me saying she had emailed Lambeth Palace 18 times asking if the archbishop’s party could please bring back some deaf children’s art, which should have been picked up by members of a recent Gaza blockade-busting convoy. The palace eventually declined saying the Israelis wouldn’t allow it.

If he’d been “witnessing boldly” as he exhorted other Christians to do, the archbishop would surely have instructed his staff to pick up the children’s art and dare the Israelis to confiscate it.

The archbishop’s website joyfully reported how he hobnobbed with the Chief Rabbinate, paid his respects to Yad Vashem and the holocaust, and talked with the president of Israel…

She complained that by not using his position in the House of Lords and elsewhere the archbishop was failing to improve the situation for Palestinians, quoting the words of Desmond Tutu: “Where there is oppression, those who do nothing side with the oppressor.”

It was later revealed that the Israelis severely restricted the archbishop’s time inside Gaza. I asked why such interference with the church’s pastoral business in the Holy Land, of all places, wasn’t broadcast on the website, in mainstream media and in Parliament.

His office confirmed that the archbishop had initially been refused access to Gaza but was eventually permitted one-and-a-half hours. This was just enough for a hurried visit to the Ahli hospital and no more. When my questions were forwarded to the archbishop’s public affairs spokesman, the reply was headed “NOT FOR PUBLICATION”. Suffice to say the Israelis from the start blocked the archbishop’s visit to Gaza and only at the last minute granted him a piddling 90 minutes.

Was this his idea of “witnessing boldly”?

The archbishop’s website joyfully reported how he hobnobbed with the Chief Rabbinate, paid his respects to Yad Vashem and the holocaust, and talked with the president of Israel – the latter no doubt sniggering up his sleeve at his guest’s frustration at being prevented by Israel’s thugs from seeing what horrors they had inflicted on the Gazans.

Why did he agree to fraternize with Jewish political and religious leaders when his wish to carry out his Christian duty in Gaza was so rudely obstructed? Did Lambeth Palace not realize that meekly accepting such insults only served to legitimize the Israelis’ illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories and gave a stamp of approval to the vicious siege of Gaza, the ongoing air strikes against civilians, the persecution of Muslim and Christian communities, and the regime’s utter contempt for international law and human rights?

There was no mention of a get-together with senior Islamic figures, leaving a question-mark over Williams’s real commitment to interfaith engagement.

Earlier, while the Jewish state was putting its finishing touches to Operation Cast Lead (the infamous blitzkrieg launched over Christmas-New Year 2008/09 against Gaza’s civilians, including the Christian community there), the archbishop joined Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks in a visit to the former Nazi camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland to demonstrate their joint solidarity against the extremes of hostility and genocide.

The Holy Land is the well-spring of the Christian faith, but you wouldn’t think so from the don’t-give-a-damn attitude among senior churchmen.

“This is a pilgrimage not to a holy place but to a place of utter profanity – a place where the name of God was profaned because the image of God in human beings was abused and disfigured,” said the archbishop. “How shall we be able to read the signs of the times, the indications that evil is gathering force once again and societies are slipping towards the same collective corruption and moral sickness that made the shoah [holocaust] possible?”

Read the signs? Surely they were plain to see. The forces of evil had already pushed some societies into the moral cesspit. He needed to look no further than the hell-hole that the Holy Land had been turned into by the Israeli occupation, with good old England’s blessing. If ever there was a place where “the name of God was profaned” this is it.

Who will step forward and save it? The Holy Land is the well-spring of the Christian faith, but you wouldn’t think so from the don’t-give-a-damn attitude among senior churchmen.

Open door for the bully-boys The multitude of interfaith committees and Christian-Jewish councils has opened the door to the Zionist lobby and made it easy for them to meddle in Church business and bully Christians into submission. There’s even a propaganda outlet calling itself Anglican Friends of Israel. A few weeks ago Zionists, no doubt emboldened by the church’s appeasement policy, put the squeeze on the Bishop of Newcastle, Martin Wharton. The Representative Council of North-East Jewry wrote to him complaining that he voted for a motion at the General Synod which supported the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) despite their “grave concerns … that it would encourage anti-Semitism”. His action, said the letter, “makes any further contact with the Jewish community in the North-East impossible”.

So be it, would seem an appropriate response. But oh no. What brought this on, according to the Church Times , was Bishop Wharton’s agreement to speak at a conference, “Peace and Justice in the Holy Land”, organized by a group of people who had taken part in the EAPPI programme. Its sponsors included Christian Aid, CAFOD and Friends of Sabeel UK.

The chief executive of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), the Reverend David Gifford, said that the conference had “the potential of becoming yet another anti-Jewish meeting, creating more anxiety and distrust between the north-east Jewish community and the Church”. Then the Board of Deputies of British Jews chimed in saying that the EAPPI was “partisan” and “anti-Israel”.

Let’s be clear what the EAPPI is actually about:

The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) brings internationals to the West Bank to experience life under occupation. Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) provide protective presence to vulnerable communities, monitor and report human rights abuses and support Palestinians and Israelis working together for peace. When they return home, EAs campaign for a just and peaceful resolution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict through an end to the occupation, respect for international law and implementation of UN resolutions.

The EAPPI programme was set up by the World Council of Churches in response to a call by the churches of Jerusalem. Its mission includes engaging in public policy advocacy and standing in solidarity with the churches and all those struggling against the illegal occupation. Few people except those who support the brutal Israeli regime would disagree with the programme’s principles and objectives. And few, surely, would condemn the humanitarian work the EAPPI carries out with great courage in the face of criminal hostility. Nevertheless its success has whipped the usual suspects into an orchestrated frenzy.

As reported in the Jewish Chronicle, John Dinnen, whose motion sparked the Synod debate, pointed out that well-known Jewish groups such as Jews for Justice for Palestine and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolition [ICAHD] are entirely supportive of EAPPI, and that five per cent of EAPPI volunteers are Jewish “which is a higher ratio than the number of Jews in England”.

But despite having the moral high ground Wharton caved in and decided not to attend the conference “for the sake of good relations between all the faith communities in Newcastle”. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, Seamus Cunningham, also decided not to attend. He told the Jewish Chronicle that he had become aware “that many Jewish people in the north-east were angry and upset”. Perhaps the angry and upset should go themselves to the West Bank and experience the behaviour of their brethren towards Palestinian women and children and the EAPPI volunteers.

Throughout his time on the archbishop’s throne Williams was mad-keen on interfaith dialogue, for what good it has done, and spent an inordinate amount of time with Chief Rabbi Sacks. At one point the Israeli newspaper the Jerusalem Post suggested that the chief rabbi had “in some respects eclipsed the archbishop as the religious voice of the country”.

This is the UK, remember, where Jews comprise just 0.5 per cent of the population and Muslims are eight times greater in number.

Nor was the Archbishop the best-known Christian, according to a survey three years ago. Harry Webb (aka Cliff Richard) beat him into second place . The survey made Cliff even “bigger than the Pope”, who trailed in seventh place.

Now we hear that the squeaky-clean, born-again-Christian megastar is to perform in Israel in July, and the Israeli media are making a meal of it. Does none of these pious dudes understand the appalling, inhuman situation out there?

I’m not sorry to see the back of Rowan Williams – a good guy but not the right man at this time. And what are we to make of his replacement, archbishop number 105, who will be enthroned at Canterbury Cathedral in March? Justin Welby is touted as an expert in conflict resolution, but he comes from nowhere and is not known for his concern about the Holy Land. His grandfather was a Jewish immigrant and Welby was Bishop of Durham for barely five minutes before landing this top job.

The Jewish Chronicle reported that Welby last year helped mount a Holocaust Memorial Day exhibition in Liverpool Cathedral and – wait for it – abstained in last summer’s vote at the Anglican Synod which endorsed the EAPPI.

In my view, anyone who cannot bring himself to give wholehearted backing to a worthy humanitarian project like EAPPI shouldn’t be leading a great Christian church.

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The following is an extract from an article by Thomas Friedman’s concerning John Kerry’s potential role as US Secretary of State.

The article appeared last week in the New York Times and it advocates (amongst other things) the US pursuing a solution to the Israel/Palestine deadlock and uses all the politically acceptable language to make a case for a two-state solution.

But is there really any justice in this conventional wisdom.  Father Labib raises some questions below.

source: www.nytimes.com…

An extract From Break All The Rules

by Thomas L. Friedman
New York Times
January 23, 2013

On Israel-Palestine, the secretary of state should publicly offer President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority the following: the U.S. would recognize the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank as the independent State of Palestine on the provisional basis of the June 4, 1967, lines, support its full U.N. membership and send an ambassador to Ramallah, on the condition that Palestinians accept the principle of “two states for two peoples” — an Arab state and a Jewish state in line with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 — and agree that permanent borders, security and land swaps would be negotiated directly with Israel. The status of the refugees would be negotiated between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which represents all Palestinians inside and outside of Palestine. Gaza, now a de facto statelet, would be recognized as part of Palestine only when its government recognizes Israel, renounces violence and rejoins the West Bank.

Why do this? Because there will be no Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough unless the silent majorities on both sides know they have a partner — that Palestinians have embraced two states for two peoples and that Israelis have embraced Palestinian statehood. Neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor President Abbas have shown a real commitment to nurture these preconditions for peace, and our secret diplomacy with both only plays into their hands. We need to blow this charade wide open by trying to publicly show Iranians, Israelis and Palestinians that they really do have options that their leaders don’t want them to see. (Israel’s election on Tuesday showed that the peace camp in Israel is still alive and significant.) It may not work. The leaders may still block it or the people may not be interested. But we need to start behaving like a superpower and forcing a moment of truth. Our hands are full now, and we can’t waste four more years with allies (or enemies) who may be fooling us.

Father Labib writes:

·         "…send an ambassador to Ramallah” (why Ramallah, it is not the capital of the Palestinian State it is Jerusalem)

·         “on the condition that Palestinians” (already with preconditions… why preconditions on the Palestinians and not on the Israeli Government)

·         “who accept the principle of “two states for two peoples” — an Arab state and a Jewish state in line with U.N (why a Jewish State, he does not say a Muslim State, why not an Israeli State as he says Arab State, do we accept in the USA to form a Catholic State, a Baptist State and a Mormon State in any of our United States?, and what are the UN line, the 181 Resolution speaks about 1948 and not 1967).

·         “General Assembly Resolution 181 — and agree that permanent borders, security and land swaps would be negotiated directly with Israell” (He calls then to the returning of Peace Process  between Israel and Palestine, these negotiations became process  for many years and did not give peace, If he speaks about Two States, then they should have already recognized borders as of resolution 181, so why again negotiations on borders.)

·         “The status of the refugees would be negotiated between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which represents all Palestinians inside and outside of Palestine” (Why ALL Jews have the right of RETURN after 2000 years and Palestinian should negotiate their RIGHT of RETURN after few years when all Palestinians have the keys of their homes and documents of their belonging of their houses and lands) .

·         “Gaza, now a de facto statelet, would be recognized as part of Palestine only when its government recognizes Israel, renounces violence and rejoins the West Bank.” (Why not asking the same from Israel first, I mean to recognize the State of Palestine… and why he does not say anything about the many settlements…, Amazing how journalists uses us to think their way and ABUSE out intelligence). 

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Father Roy writes:

The Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders listed below have declared their commitment to mobilizing broad public support for U.S. leadership for peace in the Holy Land.  They declared:  “We will mobilize the strong support that exists in churches, synagogues and mosques across the country.”   Key word: “mobilize“.   Peace, Roy

Twilight of Hope for Israeli-Palestinian Peace
January 2013

Twilight has fallen on the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  As Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders committed to peace, we urge immediate, sustained U.S. leadership before darkness falls on the hopes for a peaceful resolution.

We recently witnessed shadows of dusk.  We mourn for the lives lost and shattered during the violence that gripped southern Israel and Gaza. What we have seen, recently and before, will keep happening if movement towards a viable two state-solution continues to stagnate.  The status quo is unsustainable and dangerous to both Israelis and Palestinians.  Now is not the time for another cycle of recriminations.  It is time to break the cycle of violence with bold initiatives for peace.

The current dangerous stalemate, including the legacy of past failed peacemaking efforts, undermines our security and that of others, destabilizes the region, fuels terrorism and extremism, allows continuing Israeli settlement expansion, and prolongs Palestinian disunity.    These realities and the absence of negotiations threaten to kill the prospect of a viable two-state peace agreement, the only realistic solution to the conflict.

As people of faith, we proclaim that we should never underestimate what is possible.  Egypt and the United States helped achieve a ceasefire in Gaza. With the support of the international community, Israelis and Palestinians can achieve a lasting peace.  A new dawn is possible.

As members of the National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI), we affirm President Obama’s support for a negotiated two-state peace agreement that provides for a secure and recognized Israel living in peace alongside a viable and independent Palestinian state.

We know the challenges are daunting, but we believe a bold new initiative for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement should be an immediate priority of the new Administration in 2013.  We fear the opportunity for a peaceful resolution is rapidly waning and the current stagnation encourages the rejectionists on both sides. Our nation has unique leverage and credibility in the region.  Indeed, no past progress towards peace has occurred in this conflict without U.S. leadership, facilitation or staunch support.   Once again, we need active, fair and firm U.S. leadership to help break the current deadlock and to achieve a two-state peace agreement now before it is too late.

The Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders of NILI are committed to mobilizing broad public support for U.S. leadership for peace. We will mobilize the strong support that exists in churches, synagogues and mosques across the country.

Twilight is upon us; but the hope for a new dawn remains.  Let us together bring the new light of hope and work for negotiations leading to a final status agreement.

List of Endorsers (Organizations for identification only)

Christian Leaders:

Bishop Richard E. Pates, D.D., Chairman, USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace
Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington
Bishop Denis J. Madden, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore
Archbishop Vicken Aykasian, Director, Ecumenical Affairs, Armenian Orthodox Church in America
Fr. Mark Arey, Director, Office of Ecumenical Affairs, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
Kathryn Mary Lohre, President, National Council of Churches of Christ USA
Bishop Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate, Episcopal Church
Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Reverend Geoffrey Black, General Minister & President, United Church of Christ
Reverend Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister, President, Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ)
Bishop Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, Council of Bishops, United Methodist Church
Richard Stearns, President, World Vision US
Reverend Leighton Ford, President, Leighton Ford Ministries, Board Member, World Vision US
David Neff, Editorial Vice-President, Christianity Today
John Buchanan, Editor/Publisher, The Christian Century

Jewish Leaders:

Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Peter Knobel, Past President, Central Conference of American Rabbis
Rabbi Elliot Dorff,  Ph.D. Rector and Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, American Jewish University
Rabbi Burt Visotzky
Rabbi Amy Small, Past President, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President Emeritus, Central Conference of American Rabbis

Muslim Leaders:

Imam Mohammed Magid, President, Islamic Society of North America
Dr. Sayyid Muhammad Syeed, National Director, Islamic Society of North America
Naeem Baig, Executive Director, Islamic Circle of North America
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Founder of the ASMA Society and the Cordoba Initiative
Imam Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplain, Georgetown University
Dawud Assad, President Emeritus, Council of Mosques, USA
Eide Alawan, Interfaith Office for Outreach, Islamic Center of America
Iftekhar A. Hai, Founding Director, United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance

Visit the NILI website: www.nili-mideastpeace.org…

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A number of leading American liberal Zionists were jubilant at the Israeli election result.  A press-release from J Street claimed that Israel had voted for a government that would “revive the peace process with the Palestinians and make vital moves to “save” Israel”.

Meanwhile, at the coal-face, nothing has changed. The video below documents a woman and her 18-month-old baby being arrested for the crime of trying to cultivate their own land in the West Bank.

Alex Kane writes in Mondoweiss that the liberal Zionists are delusional:

“their rhetoric about the outcome of the elections represents a fantasy with little bearing in the reality of what the Israeli government is and will continue to be: a settlement expanding, occupation supporting right-wing government that is committed to the suppression of Palestinian rights within the Green Line and in the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli government, in other words, will remain committed to the status quo of apartheid.”

Father Dave

If you can’t view this video, click here

 

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A sign of the times – the Malaysian PM makes an official visit to Gaza!

Datuk Seri Najib Razak entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing in Egypt, thus by-passing Israel completely. He is the first Malaysian PM ever to visit Palestine, and I have a feeling that Mahmoud Abbas would have been hoping for the privilege of meeting him first.

The Malaysian PM paused for a photo opportunity with the son of Ahmed Al-Jaabari – the Hamas leader whose assassination was the catalyst to the latest Israeli assault. And so Malaysia follows in the path of Egypt and other Islamic countries in paying homage to the Hamas government for their militant resistance to the Israeli occupation while Abbas struggles to make the most of Palestine’s new UN status.

Hopefully Abbas won’t be too distraught over the Malaysian PM’s visit for this is good news for all Palestine. The inertia towards a new Palestinian unity government seems unstoppable, while Israel’s international isolation seems almost complete. One can only hope and pray that America will eventually come into line and apply the necessary leverage to see the long-talked-about two-state solution become a reality!

Father Dave

Datuk Seri Najib Razak

Datuk Seri Najib Razak – the Prime Minister of Malaysia

source: www.nst.com…

ALWAYS A FRIEND: Najib offers to help in peace talks

GAZA CITY (Palestine) : PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak set foot here yesterday in a historic humanitarian visit where he pledged solidarity with  Palestinians and offered to facilitate  renewed reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fatah.

Najib, who entered the tiny Palestinian enclave via the Rafah crossing from Cairo, became the first Malaysian PM ever to visit Palestine.

Upon his arrival at the Gaza immigration complex in Rafah, Najib was met by Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ziad al-Zaza and head of Hamas International Relations, Usamah Hamdan.

Speaking later in Gaza, Najib said Malaysia was ready to offer Palestinians the experience it had facilitating peace talks in the southern Philippines.

“Should it be needed, we stand ready to offer you the benefit of that experience.

“Malaysia, always a friend of the Palestine people, is willing to help facilitate the reconciliation plan in whichever way we can,” he said after being conferred with an honorary doctorate degree from Al-Aqsa University (Gaza).

“We believe in the rights of all people to live in peace, security and dignity, and we hope that the rights are realised for the people of the Palestinian soon.”

Read the rest of this article: www.nst.com…