Why would someone do this?

As any regular reader will know I love being a Methodist Minister. I get to be part of some fantastic Churches focused on Mission. I get to work with amazing people whose commitment to the Gospel is fantastic. I rejoice in being part of the Methodist people whose love and commitment is wonderful.

 

So I just don't understand why a Methodist Local Preacher would treat someone else as we see in Any stick to beat the Jews with where David Hallam refers to a fellow Methodist, Richard Hall, as "the anti-Jewish Methodist blogger".

 

I invite you to read Richards blog to see if you can find any justification for this attack. Richard has been entirely consistent in his views and non of them are anti-Jewish.

 

Instead he has consistently and politely stood against David Hallam's threatened law suit against the Methodist Church and has supported the resolutions made by the Methodist Conference this summer that urge a boycott on the goods produced in illegal settlements in the West Bank. He (and the Methodist Church) have made this clear that this is not a stand against Jews but against illegal settlements by the state of Israel.

 

Instead of disagreeing in any kind of Christian or even in a reasonable secular way David Hallam seems to now be conducting a hate campaign against Richard. 

 

This is so far outside my experience of Methodism that I am floundering around not knowing how to respond. What is the loving and peaceful response to someone within the Church who is being so publicly hateful to another in the Church?

 

One response is that I will be spending more time praying for Richard and for David and I urge others to do the same. Beyond that I just do not know at the moment.

95 thoughts on “Why would someone do this?

  1. PamBG

    Criticizing the policies if Israel is not being racist or anti-Semetic. David keeps saying those who disagree with him on international politics are racist. Then he says he is only criticizing the policies and not calling anyone racist and he wonders why anyone thinks he’s calling people racist. Well, because he said those words.
    I dont know why anyone would do this. But clearly this is illogical. We think you said what you said, David, because you said it. You appear to believe that anyone who criticizes Israeli policies is racist. You say it over and over.

    Reply
  2. Methodist Preacher

    Dave,
    Over several weeks yourself, Richard Hall and others have been running a fairly desperate campaign claiming that you and the Methodist Conference are not anti-Semitic in passing a resolution that attacked the Jewish people in Israel.
    Your yourself ran round a Methodist Council meeting asking various luminaries to ensure you that this was not the case.
    My position has always been that the Methodist Church is not it itself anti-Semitic. However there are some aspects of its behaviour which are deeply troubling and possibly discriminatory.
    In this very post you try desperately to say that the Methodist Church is only concerned with the issue of the illegal settlements. Well then why is that you, as a member of the Methodist Council, have been supporting the proposal to examine Zionism. Do you agree with Nicola Jones proposition (who moved the motion at conference) that the Jews have somehow lost God’s favour? I really don’t think you understand what an insensitive and offensive statement that is.
    After a fairly hysterical post on your blog full capital letters and bold type (when I worked in a newspaper office letters like that normally came written in green ink) I suggested you met with Leicester’s Jewish community and discussed this matter with them. You explained that going five miles to the other side of Leicester was a little too far to travel. Bless.
    A couple of weeks ago Richard launched a petition that named me and deliberately distorted my position. You do not come out of this well. In Methodist blogging you play the role of the little fat boy who a turn up after the school bully has done someone over and puts the boot in on the victim. I think a little prayer for your own behaviour may be appropriate.
    As to Richard I see today that he is now trying to tar the Jewish community in this country with the nasty brush of the English Defence League. That I regard as anti-Jewish behaviour. If he is going to post on something as sensitive as that he should at least have researched the issue first.
    And then there are his little quips such as “Methodists are lighting the ovens again”.
    To you and Richard this may seem hilarious. I don’t think many Jews find it funny.
    One of his other little funnies was to allow a “humorous” comment which suggested the Methodist Church was involved in the Holocaust. It was meant get a Ho! Ho! Ho!
    When I pointed out that sadly, yes, a Methodist had been involved in the Holocaust. Richard demanded I named names. When I did, Richard went strangely quiet. Someone who was concerned about this issue would have joined with me and asking the Methodist Church to repent. Richard however chose silence.
    Over several weeks Richard has been baiting me to say that the Methodist Church is anti-Semitic. He has even tried to argue the semantics about the difference between being discriminatory and anti-Semitic.
    Having seen Richard’s behaviour over several years I have concluded that he is, in fact, anti-Jewish. It goes well beyond being anti-Zionist. I have absolutely no evidence to the contrary.
    David

    Reply
  3. Methodist Preacher

    The sixth paragraph should read:
    A couple of weeks ago Richard launched a petition that named me and deliberately distorted my position. You were signature number five, despite knowing full well that what Richard said did not represent my position. You do not come out of this well. In Methodist blogging you play the role of the little fat boy who a turn up after the school bully has done someone over and puts the boot in on the victim. I think a little prayer for your own behaviour may be appropriate

    Reply
  4. Alec

    Apologies for the above comment. My browser is acting-up.
    Criticizing the policies if Israel is not being racist or anti-Semetic.
    What, never? Under no circumstances?
    Dave, I don’t know enough of Richard Hall’s oeurve to say if he’s anti-Jewish (and have said this to David Hallam on his blog), but those comments I have seen on Israel strike as problematic.
    Today’s missive which, if I may say so, you don’t apply the same critical eye is a case in point. It tries to make a semantic link between pro-Israel sympathies and support for the EDL.
    So some EDL heavies turn-up on a public street, waving an Israeli flag, and the pro-Israel crowd should apologize? Yes, and matators are Commies ‘cos they carry red flags (in the same way, the EDL is trying to get a rise out of what they think Muslims represent).
    There is no mainstream support for the EDL amongst British Jews and the pro-Israel crowd. None. Which is why it has to be fabricated, as recently was tried when attempts (by, amongst others, a leading member of York PSC) were made to rig Jewish Chronicle poll in order to present British Jews, as a bloc, as racist. There’s a word for the sort of people who do that.
    The preoccupation with finding connexions [1] between the pro-Israel crowd and the EDL, no matter how tortuous, is doubly odd considering the number of Nazis and other racists who keep goosestepping their way into ostensibly pro-Palestinian events!
    I’m thinking of the likes of Kristina Morvai, of the Hungarian Jobbik Party which traces to the Nazi-era Arrow Cross movement, who – in addition to racist views against Romani – has described Israeli Jews as vermin and recently hooked-up with the Palestine Return Centre.
    Again, I have no reason to suspect anti-Judaic views of Richard Hall. The same cannot be said of some of the speakers at the recent Church indaba in York.
    [1] I’m especially disappointed by his views, as it aint often that I encounter someone who knows the correct spelling of “connection”.

    Reply
  5. Methodist Preacher

    Alex,thanks for your comment. But I must put you right on just one thing “Connexion” is a Methodist word for our movement. That is one of the reasons people assume Richard has an official status as an official blogger. He is certainly given the time. I can’t keep up with him because I work full time in a secular occupation (I’m having a week off).

    Reply
  6. Dave

    Running to catch up before meetings this evening.
    Starting at the bottom.
    David Hallam aka Methodist Preacher, given that the title at the top of Richards blog is
    “connexions The blog of Richard Hall, a Methodist Minister in Wales.”
    and it also has a disclaimer in the right hand column:
    “- Disclaimer -
    All opinions expressed here are those of the individuals concerned. This blog does not claim to officially represent the Methodist Church of Great Britain.”
    your claim that it is seen as official is odd.
    It is an especially odd claim for you to make as you sign yourself “Methodist Preacher” with a blog at “http://methodistpreacher.com/”

    Reply
  7. Dave

    Alec, [ed update: I noticed I had made a mistake and called Alec Alex. My apologies]
    I had read Richards post. I understood (and having re-read it still understand it differently to you).
    It seems to me that Richard was pointing out that the EDL (who I think we would agree are racist and very unpleasant people) were trying to cause trouble by showing support for Israel.
    His headline does of course go both ways. There are crazy people who are pro Israel and there are crazy people who are pro Palestinian. The crazy people try to hijack sensible people.
    One of the problems is that the crazy people will try to make it appear that sensible people support them.
    You seem to be working on the assumption that if a blogger quotes something they find interesting then that means they sign up to everything that person has ever said. That does not seem to be very appropriate and does not generally fit with the way blogging generally works.
    I do not believe at all that Richard is preoccupied with trying to find connections on theconnexion between the EDL and the pro Israel crowd. Instead I understood him to be saying that when you have policies that are unjust and break International Law (such as building settlements in the West Bank) it is not surprising when you attract crazies like the EDL.
    Please look at where Richard has stated his own views on Israel he has consistently pointed out that his concern is with illegal settlements and expressed his support for the existence of Israel and stated that he stands against racism including anti-Semitism.
    As for David Hallam’s attacks I know that I have at times written things on my blog that I have later realised were wrong or intemperate, But those mistakes are still visible and the clarifications, corrections and apologies can be ignored and sentences can be taken out of context. David Hallam is a master at try to make it appear that I have said things that I would have never actually meant. His comments on this post have again twisted what I have said beyond all recognition.
    I realise that you feel that David Hallam is “on your side” but I urge you to not simply accept his attacks on people like Richard at face value.

    Reply
  8. Dave

    David Hallam,
    I will try to respond to your comments, but I am very aware that you have already twisted what I have written in order to present me in a very negative way. This makes me feel very wary and uncomfortable.
    a) I am not running any kind of campaign. I have responded in a number of posts and a few comments to your attacks on the Church I serve.
    b) “Your yourself ran round a Methodist Council meeting asking various luminaries to ensure you that this was not the case.”
    This is a gross misrepresentation of what I wrote and what I did. During a 48 hour meeting of the Methodist Council I sat at meals with various people, had coffee with them and socialised outside the business sessions. In the course of the conversations which covered how our families were, how life is etc etc we touched on the accusations you have been flinging around. As I was not at Methodist Conference I asked about what had happened. What I wrote was that the various snippets of conversations reassured me that your accusations were not accurate.
    c) “Well then why is that you, as a member of the Methodist Council, have been supporting the proposal to examine Zionism.”
    My understanding is that the Methodist Conference asked the Faith and Order Committee to prepare a report on “Christian Zionism”. That is a very different thing to “Zionism”.
    As a member of Methodist Council I have never been asked to express support or otherwise for this. My understanding is that Conference made a decision and Faith and Order will report back. The only involvement of Methodist Council so far is to approve a work plan for the connexional team that includes the recognition that this request by Methodist Council will cause some work for the Connexional Team when Faith and Order report back.
    d) (and rushing now as need to go out). You say “After a fairly hysterical post on your blog full capital letters and bold type (when I worked in a newspaper office letters like that normally came written in green ink) I suggested you met with Leicester’s Jewish community and discussed this matter with them. You explained that going five miles to the other side of Leicester was a little too far to travel. Bless.”
    I assume you are referring to Maximum Respect to David Hallam | The Jewish Chronicle
    I wrote that post while at a conference on Christians and New Media where I felt my blog writing style challenged in terms of it being too long without formatting variety.
    I can only see the use of a larger font which seems to be a fairly common way of drawing attention to headlines, important sentences etc. I know my English is not very good but I can’t see any extra capital letters.
    What I do see is two points that I wanted to make very clear and that I stand by.
    I did not feel and still do not feel hysterical other than the steam coming out of my ears at your attacks.
    Sorry off now to focus on mission with some lovely Methodists.
    Bye

    Reply
  9. Alec

    Dave, I don’t go in for “sides”: although some do with inherently divisive boycotts and, may I say it, assuming others are ganging-up in sides.
    I already have stated my disagreement with David on named points. I, for instance, do not think one instance of a Methodist minister involved with deportations amounts to Church complicity in the Shoah: and with, I think, an above average knowledge of it and the Hitlerian period, do not agree with reducing it to the image of gas-ovens (most Jewish deaths occurred in open-air killing fields out East).
    I am speaking from my own opinion which has been arrived at my independent experience.
    It seems to me that Richard was pointing out that the EDL (who I think we would agree are racist and very unpleasant people) were trying to cause trouble by showing support for Israel.
    Is showing support for Israel provocative in itself, or should the pro-Israel crowd be discomfited by the EDL’s jumping on the band-wagon?
    I don’t know your involvement with the liberal preoccupation with one side of a regional conflict at the eastern end of the Mediterranean. I must, therefore, ascribe to you the most charitable reading which is that you are defending the power-structures of the Church and the decision to pass a certain motion at the recent indaba.
    This is unremarkable, but linking the EDL to the pro-Israel crowd is standard fare. It’s possible that Richard is unaware of this; yet he didn’t make any mention of the attested rejection of the EDL by mainstream British Jews and the pro-Israel crowd.
    I simply do not believe that this was anything other than an attempt to imply guilt by association.
    You then say:

    Instead I understood him to be saying that when you have policies that are unjust and break International Law (such as building settlements in the West Bank) it is not surprising when you attract crazies like the EDL.

    I’ll come onto the matter of the Settlements in a moment, but you appear to accepted that Richard was doing just what I suggested.
    D’you honestly believe that the EDL gives a hoot about a few building projects more than 4,000 miles away? They undoubtedly are motivated by an animus towards Muslims… but if the shibboleth of “international law” were their reason, do you not think they’d attach more readily to the Sudanese Government – which, off the top of my head, has killed more Muslims than anyone else combined (and, yes, I am including the Algerian and Iraqi Civil Wars) – and start taunting pro-Darfuri rallies?
    Maybe they could get PR advice from David Hoile. Hoile’s a former Young Conservative who wore a Hang Mandela badge (successfully sued the Guardian when it revealed this only for photographs to emerge a few days later) and now works in the immensely powerful Arab Lobby, particularly for Khartoum [1].
    Now the Settlements. “International law” is largely untested and uncodified, and almost exclusively not supra-democratic. Nor do the agreements commonly cited about the Settlements explicitly rules against them…they are on *disputed* territory, because there has been no high-negotiating power in the Territories following the Arab League’s rejection of UN Resolution 181.
    At worst, they are of similar legal status as Romani villages in Eastern/Central Europe, or Traveller camps in Britain.
    And, even if they were illegal, so what? It always baffles me how representatives of Christian Churches which hailed from radical traditions suddenly become het-up about legality. Where would your Church be if John Wesley had respected the CofE’s primacy?
    I am connected to advocacy groups for Burma and North Korea, and am mixed-minds of the international sanctions (especially Burma) which manifestly have failed. Likewise, no-one out there is spiteful enough to demand boycotts of products from Tibet.
    After the Church indaba, Karen Burke justified it by saying “following a call from a group of Palestinian Christians, a number of Jewish organisations, both within Israel and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches.” [2].
    So if they asked you to jump off a bridge, would you do so? Please don’t hide behind the Palestinian Arabs or others. Your Church’s clerics made the choice to do so, and now appear not to have the courage of their convictions.
    Furthermore, the groups in question can best be described as professional agitators. Their pettiness and hypocrisy can best be seen in Omar Barghouti, the big cheese of the BDS movement and a man-child who is a post-grad student at Tel Aviv.
    There are many groups/initiatives which don’t call for boycotts – OneVoice, Children of Peace, the village of Deir Abu Meshal (on the West Bank where women knit yarmulkas for the Israeli market), Friends of Arava (one feather in their cap was challenging the IDF’s blanket ban on student visas for Palestinian Arabs).
    Also, Settlement products provide employment for thousands of Arabs, and hundreds willingly study at Ariel College. This is how peace comes. Two sides working together and trusting each other… and it is what your Church is helping to block.
    And that’s before we get onto Stephen Leah, whose successor as Chair of York PSC engaged in a bit of antisemitic agitation, and the demonstrably anti-Judaic polemics of Nicola Jones.
    [1] http://barthsnotes.wordpress.com/2008/04/30/lord-ahmed-and-yvonne-ridley-tour-sudan-with-david-hoile/
    [2] http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/jul/02/religion-methodist-israel-boycott?

    Reply
  10. Dave

    Hi Alec,
    I am not following everything on David Hallam’s blog and I don’t generally respond there, so I am not aware of all you have said there.
    “Is showing support for Israel provocative in itself, or should the pro-Israel crowd be discomfited by the EDL’s jumping on the band-wagon?”
    I think the EDL are out to cause trouble any way they can and if they can divide communities then they like to do so. It does not mean there is a link between EDL and pro-Israeli groups.
    “I simply do not believe that this was anything other than an attempt to imply guilt by association.”
    Actually as Richard has made clear in a comment it was to do the opposite but was maybe a bit to subtle. He was pointing out the futility of playing the guilt by association game. My way of putting it would be to say there are crazies everywhere and we should not judge a view by the crazy extremists who claim to be on the same side. The attempts to do guilt by association don’t help anyone.
    I said that if you have policies that are unjust and break international law it is not surprising that you will attract people like the EDL who promote injustice, who disregard international law. I did not mean this as guilt by association. The guilt is if the policies are unjust and break international law. The association is simply extremist people being attracted even if you don’t want them to be. The more extreme your views the more extremists will be attracted to you.
    I believe the EDL only give a hoot about destroying communities and peace.
    I am no lawyer or expert, but it seems to me that there are plenty of international experts from the UN and WCC etc telling us that these settlements are illegal.
    I agree boycotts are difficult. There was an excellent comment on this by Cotswold Quaker on an earlier post.
    As for individuals I do not feel qualified to comment. I have not heard them myself, I don’t know a lot of the people mentioned and I am no expert in this field. However, I do look at the actual process of listening and conferring and the resolutions passed and say that they are ok. For those who don’t believe that is the case there are processes within the Church for them to challenge them appropriately. Attacking members of the Church and threatening legal suits are not appropriate ways to challenge the Church (especially when these are the first choices of method).

    Reply
  11. Bene D

    Thank you Dave.
    Mr. Hallam feels
    “Richard has been baiting me” and that you are ‘playing’ “the role of the little fat boy who a turn up (sic) after the school bully has done someone over and puts the boot in on the victim.”
    Why would anyone do this?
    I don’t know either. This delusional and increasingly desperate angry level of victimhood falls under mental health and sin.
    A lot more people are going to be hurt.
    Thanks for choosing not to be reactive or a co-dependent enabler. Thanks for naming the elephant in the room.

    Reply
  12. Dave

    Bene D,
    you are ‘playing’ “the role of the little fat boy who a turn up (sic) after the school bully has done someone over and puts the boot in on the victim.”
    I resent David Hallam saying this. I have been exercising and trying to diet a bit. I have lost weight and am no longer officially obese at least by BMI standards.

    Reply
  13. Alec

    Again, apologies for the above comment. My browser still causes problem.

    Mr. Hallam feels “Richard has been baiting me” and that you are ‘playing’ “the role of the little fat boy who a turn up (sic) after the school bully has done someone over and puts the boot in on the victim.”

    Wa-haha!
    Dave, thank you for getting back to me. I’ve seen Richard’s response, and said on his blog that it comes across as very, very weak.
    I’ve started following David’s blog only recently and already can tell he has a bee in his bonnet, not least about the Methodist minister involved with deportations: attempts to extract an ‘apology’ from the Church hierarchy strike as tortuous as Richard’s claims merely to have been making an observation about the EDL rally.
    But, to an extent, what’s food for the goose is food for the gander. Considering the prurient curtain twitching which is displayed by, but not limited to, members of your Church against one side in a regional conflict at the eastern end of the Mediterranean [1], there aint much credibility in one’s calling for decorum when the optical isomer occurs.
    You accept that the EDL are as a bunch of football hooligans expelled from their local ground, out just to rile people. Like the matador with the red flag (yes, yes, I know bulls are colour-blind), they use the Israeli flag to get a response from Muslims. I wear a Magen David neckchain, and aint had nearly as much trouble from Muslims as I do from other culturally Christian Europeans… maybe the EDL have tapped into your cohort’s sectarian-based view in which the most belligerent groups of Muslims are taken as representative of mainstream cultural/religious Muslim opinion.
    And if you think it’s tasteless for them to wave the Israeli flag (as I do), maybe you should castigate those who bring Nazi imagery into the anti-Israeli discourse (as obscene as waving nooses or white-hoods at a demo outside the Jamaican High Commission). This is far, far more common amongst the pro (sic) Palestinian crowd than the EDL is amongst the pro-Israel crowd.
    Like you, I aint an international lawyer. I do know, however, the bare minimum for an “illegal occupation” is a high-negotiating power which is being denied its authority. This does not exist in the Territories, ‘cos of Arab rejectionism in 1947/8 (when British Army officers were siding with them, and MI6 was implementing Operation Embarrass to halt by friendly bombs the immigration of Survivors).
    The UN is *not* a supra-democratic organization, or even democratically elected. None of the Resolutions you could mention are binding: they act as guidance (hence “guiding principles”); and Resolution 242 does *not* call for a unilateral withdrawal from the Territories (look for the definite article). Maybe they’d carry more authority if they weren’t being issued at a drop of a hat.
    Furthermore, I have minor respect for a system which places Zimbabwe on a food-relief programme, Iran on women’s rights and Sudan on human rights.
    And, again, even if there were clear-cut legal case, so what? Far more egregious abuses take place elsewhere; and France is finding the laws which allow her to deport thousands of Romani just as the legal framework exists in this country for evicting Traveller camps (an apposite comparison to the Bedouin of the Negev), but I suspect you disapprove.
    Jurisprudence is peddling in the shallows of philosophy. If something is right or wrong, one should be able to make the case without recourse to legal arguments. To boil the argument down to the ‘indignity’ of the wrong population group being on a dunam of land is profoundly anti-human and indicative of blood ‘n soil nationalism which you’d be quick to decry amongst Europeans.

    As for individuals I do not feel qualified to comment. I have not heard them myself, I don’t know a lot of the people mentioned and I am no expert in this field.

    Oh, come-on, don’t be coy! You’re able to express adamantine views on international diplomacy and foreign States. The least you can do is express one on your own Church’s decision making!
    Okie, here’s Nicola Jones’ views (complete with a recording)
    http://hurryupharry.org/2010/07/02/methodists-boycott-israel-citing-new-covenant-with-god/
    Stephen Leah’s anti-democratic views, and intention to move onto a full boycott of Israel:
    http://seismicshock.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/dr-stephen-leah-the-anti-israel-methodists/
    Leah’s successor as Chair of the York PSC engaging in a bit of antisemitic agitation:
    http://hurryupharry.org/2010/10/15/tony-greenstein-wants-rabbis-to-support-the-edl/

    Attacking members of the Church and threatening legal suits are not appropriate ways to challenge the Church (especially when these are the first choices of method).

    I don’t know enough of David’s motion to comment specifically, but I wouldn’t like what you describe either. Then again, I’m ambivalent towards boycotts and fetishising international law, especially those launched by entryist movements; behind it are individuals like Ben White who cites Holocaust Deniers, “understands” why people are antisemites, calls the riot Police against a solitary late-middle aged 5 foot 7 Jewish man (yes, really), says “whatever” when asked what he thinks of the security barrier halting wave-after-wave of suicide-attacks, and considers a sting operation which halts the bombing of New York synagogues to be a “fully controlled threats to our freedoms”.
    We are known by our fruits.
    I’ve seen Cotswold Quaker’s comment, and replied on the thread in question.
    [1] Last night’s Nightwaves on Radio3 featured Nicola Foreman about her new book, The World on Fire, which deals with Victorian Britain’s attitudes towards the American Civil War. She compared the polarization of and must-have opinions to that on Israel/Palestine, and suggested that the pro-South elements – aristocratic elites, theatre types, fashionable opinion – were cognate with the pro (sic) Palestinian elements nowadays.

    Reply
  14. Dave

    There is no moderation pre or otherwise (it is very very very rare for me to delete or change a comment and I always document that I have done so).
    But there is a spam filter provided by typepad which I rarely check (it catches 1,000s of spam comments selling drugs etc). I’ll look there for a comment from you.
    [Update] Alec your comment is now visible above. Sadly typepad does not give me any info on why it marked it as spam.

    Reply
  15. Alec

    The most likely explanation is the number of URLs. Three appears to be the trigger point on Typepad.
    PS I was incorrect about Stephen Leah. He remains the Chair of the York PSC… his Secretary is the other individual I’ve been refered to.

    Reply
  16. Dave

    Wow Alec that is one heck of a long comment and it includes lots of words I have to look up – even when I have done so I still have no idea what adamantine views are or what isomer means :-)
    I’ll pick up a few bits.
    “maybe the EDL have tapped into your cohort’s sectarian-based view in which the most belligerent groups of Muslims are taken as representative of mainstream cultural/religious Muslim opinion.”
    I am sorry what is my cohort? I reject completely the EDL, I reject those who label all Muslims terrorists and I reject those who discriminate against Jews. I also stand against those who discriminate based on ethnicity, gender or sexuality. My only problem is that I don’t have time to give equal attention to all the different forms of discrimination that I reject. I have therefore tended to focus on only some due to time and brain capacity limitations.
    I want to make a background point that sometimes there are things happening in the local Churches where I work that mean it would be inappropriate for me to comment on wider issues on my blog. For example suppose I were working confidentially with someone in a Church about racism and the Methodist view that racism is a denial of the Gospel (something from the previous Methodist Conference that should be celebrated), it would be unhelpful for me to start writing blog posts about racism at the same time.
    This means that you cannot use my blogging silence on an issue to make assumptions about what I believe or its importance.
    “If something is right or wrong, one should be able to make the case without recourse to legal arguments”
    My view is that a number of actions by the state of Israel are wrong. A number of actions by groups such as Hamas are also wrong.
    I am quite ready to say that building settlements in the West Bank is wrong. It is very inflammatory and makes moves towards peace in the region very much more difficult. The taking of homes and land from Palestinians is also wrong and especially the way it has been done (if not all the time then in a significant number of cases).
    The separation barrier is both wrong and generates tension and hatred. It separates people from their land, from their jobs etc.
    I do believe that the rocket attacks and suicide attacks on Israel are wrong. However, the disproportionate response by Israel is also wrong (compare the death toll in Israel from rocket attacks from Gaza with the numbers killed in the invasion of Gaza). Not only is this wrong but the effects will inevitably be to strengthen violent extremists.
    I have had a quick look at hurryupharry and one obvious problem is the theological interpretation that jumps from Nocola Jones’ words to accusations of Supercessionism and racism. In some of the comments on theConnexion PamBG challenged this and while Pam’s theology is excellent she was attacked and mis-represented. On hurryupharry many of the responses are full of guilt by association and guilt by assumptions that are incorrect. It is very hard to respond to such posts in a helpful way.

    Reply
  17. Alec

    Always a learning experience, Dave: I assume you haven’t read His Dark Materials if you didn’t know adamantine ;) Think of it as more than rock hard and being adamant, whilst optical isomer is a term in chemistry which best can be thought of as a mirror image.

    I am sorry what is my cohort?

    One which sees itself as pro-Palestinian, just as mine is pro-Israel. There’s the wider issue of successive Governments and received opinion communalizing populations. I hold with Lockean principals of self-ownership which sees “communities” only in terms of geographical locations, and not whichever ethnic/religious group one is born into (and have had bonny good arguments with supposed LibDems over their rejection of this unremarkable Liberal principal).
    An obvious clanger is speaking of the “Muslim community” and not a mélange of ethnic groups and different religious confessionals of varying degrees of observance.
    The act of ascribing bloc opinions to Muslims – maybe that they hold certain opinions on Israel or British foreign policy – is precisely what the EDL does. British Muslims, be they observant or cultural, are not tools for others to project their own opinions onto.
    Same for Palestinian Arabs. I’ve given the names of groups

    This means that you cannot use my blogging silence on an issue to make assumptions about what I believe or its importance.

    That’s fair, and I recognize you will have to defer to the power-structures of your Church. Yet, at the Church indaba, the laws of men were appealed to in order to justify the motion… now, when criticism is voiced, I hear attempts to appeal to internal Church procedures and ecclesiastical law (sorry, can’t think if the Methodists use this term).
    Lawfare is an ugly business, and we cannot then claim immunity when others respond in kind.

    My view is that a number of actions by the state of Israel are wrong. A number of actions by groups such as Hamas are also wrong.

    I’m sorry, this is a cop-out up there with know-all atheists (I’m thinking of Dawkins) saying they consider all religions to be equally bad… or the “cultural piracy” which sees all as equally good, objecting to which resulting in Garrison Keillor’s having a fatwa issued against him by the Unitarians.
    Israel is a State so, like all States, follows policies which private individuals like you and me do not have to worry about. Consider acts of charity, however, towards Arabs are both permitted and legislated for within Israel… this is not reciprocated by Hamas.
    The first priority of Israel, like that of any other State, is to her own population. Palestinian Arab groups, however, have historically placed antagonism to Israel before care for their own people; secure in the knowledge that deep-pocketed Westerners or NGOs always will bail them out.
    In the past 60 years, by far the greatest killers of Palestinian Arab groups have been other Arab groups. This is why I write “pro (sic) Palestinian groups”. I don’t know what connexions Methodist groups (or is it, “what links Methodist connexions”?) have to Viva Palestina and the children’s crusade of the various Gaza convoys, but I do know VP recently hooked-up with the SSNP in Syria.
    SSNP stands for Syrian Socialist National Party which, as you can guess, is a bona fide Nazi Party. Even if it were acceptable to be in cahoots with this in order to be pro-Palestinian, this group was behind some of the greatest massacres of Palestinian Arabs and others the Lebanese Civil War (starting with the War of the Camps in 1976).
    They aint pro-Palestinian. They’re anti-Israel.
    With friends like these, as a certain Methodist blogger would say…
    I’ll respond to the rest shortly, but now I have some lamb hearts to stuff.

    Reply
  18. Dave

    Alec,
    Thanks for the education :-), for some of us more learning experience is needed than for others.
    I want to reject being put into a pro-Palestinian cohort. One of the key problems with this discussion is the lack of shades, the lack of flexibility, the lack of nuance.
    I am decidedly neither pro-Palestinian nor pro-Israel.
    Simplistic dualism (either you love me or you love my enemy) is hugely destructive and completely unhelpful in moving forward.
    If you have to put me in pro/anti cohorts then I am pro-Justice, pro-Peace, pro-Community and anti-War, anti-hatred and anti-Dualism
    So one of the problems that we have seen in the discussions about the Methodist position is to continually view it through a dualistic. That has led to charges that if you criticise Israel for anything then you are anti-Semitic and pro-Palestinian which must mean you approve of Hamas, This thinking is a huge problem, it is false and it is downright dangerous.
    When you talk of the Church indaba I am not quite sure which event you mean. I was originally thinking about the Methodist Conference as that is where the Methodist Church resolutions were passed but it seems that people are also referring to some other more recent event.
    I have had a clear focus on the internal Church procedures and rules with David Hallam because he has totally ignored all the ways laid down in the Bible and in the Methodist Church for handling disagreements. From a Methodist perspective his approach stinks, it is hate filled and has been very damaging. He has been incredibly rude to many really good people within the Church and then continues to play victim.
    Recently we are in a different situation when we are discussing with people, like you, who are outside the Church (and often of different or no faith). I fully understand that for this different audience discussion about Church procedures etc is unhelpful and irrelevant. But the freedom of blogs mean that sometimes these things get mixed up.
    More later.

    Reply
  19. Dave

    Alec,
    I wrote:

    My view is that a number of actions by the state of Israel are wrong. A number of actions by groups such as Hamas are also wrong.

    You replied:

    I’m sorry, this is a cop-out up there with know-all atheists (I’m thinking of Dawkins) saying they consider all religions to be equally bad

    Yes I was vague but not as a cop out but because I went on to give more detail. Two specifics.
    Suicide bombing is a terrible thing, so destructive and manipulative of lives. Hamas and anyone using suicide bombers have no support from me, I completely reject it. That absolutely does not mean I reject speaking to such people for if we do not talk how can we understand at all and how can we hope to bring change.
    The invasion of Gaza nearly a year ago by Israel was a huge mistake. The response to the evil rocket attacks was completely disproportionate. I think the rocket attacks has killed less than 30 people whereas the war killed it seems around 1,400. Wikipedia quote Amnesty International as

    Amnesty concluded that an overall figure of some 1,400 fatalities is accurate and that, in addition to some 300 children, 115 women and 85 men aged over 50, some 200 men aged less than 50 were unarmed civilians who took no part in the hostilities

    Beyond the gaza war there has been the humanitarian crisis that has been left in Gaza.
    The whole thing is completely unjustified response to something that I totally agree was evil and wrong.

    Israel is a State so, like all States, follows policies which private individuals like you and me do not have to worry about. Consider acts of charity, however, towards Arabs are both permitted and legislated for within Israel… this is not reciprocated by Hamas.

    Sorry I don’t understand what you mean here.

    The first priority of Israel, like that of any other State, is to her own population.

    So how well do you feel the people who lived in the West Bank but had their homes destroyed feel that the state of Israel is doing on this score? This has to mean the whole population and so includes all Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and the rest of Israel. Otherwise your (valid IMHO) criticisms of France are hypocritical.
    I don’t know who the groups are that you mention. But I do know Methodists who have been part of the “Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel – EAPPI“. I have had first hand accounts of some of their experiences.

    Reply
  20. Alec

    I’ll respond briefly as I made a vow to read a steam-powered webpage (i.e. book) tonight, and return tomorrow.
    I agree that David Hallam’s approach now seems highly confrontational and irrational, as well as personalized. Yet, his attitude is still present on t’other side.
    By indaba I did mean the Congress in July. The pro-boycott motions were proposed by the likes of Nicola Jones and Stephen Leah.
    I cannot see how Jones’ above speech can be seen as anything other than anti-Judaic. Had she argued that the Gospel repudiates racism, as you do, that would have been one thing: but she clearly contrasted Galatians 3:28 with the supposed concept of Choseness in the Hebrew Bible and said, presumably unlike the Hebrew G-d, the Christian Messiah was not racist.
    Only a supercessionarist like a Christian could believe that Amos 3:2 represents that. This was at a time when the existence of other deities was accepted – the Medianites had hundreds of them – when those hilltops the faithful were told to look to were shrines rivaling those on other hilltops.
    The Hebrew one was preeminent. Like football supporters, the Hebrews held that their men were better players, their women better looking, their G-d had the biggest willy, that sort of thing.
    Yet, Paul stated in Romans 11 that Jews remained in the Covenant. If, as Jones suggests, the Hebrew Bible was one of racial exclusiveness, then either this Apostle or God Himself were lying/mistaken.
    This aint the only part of Scripture she’s selective with. Gentile only ever really has been “Greek”, but she applies a bit of license to extend it to Arabs. Surely Hagar’s line, which is discussed in Galatians 4:22/31, refers to the Arabs? And are consider to be lesser.
    If Jones is going to use 2,000 religious texts as verbatim fact, she should use everything!
    Leah, as I said, believes this current boycott is a preamble to a full boycott of Israel. Even if he doesn’t succeed, I can guarantee he’s going to try and bring further attention on the Church.
    Plus, as Chair of the York PSC, I do think it is reasonable to ask if he were aware of his Secretary’s attempts to rig a JC poll.
    I am aware of the EAPPI, not least this missive from Sderot on the Gaza border:
    http://www.quaker.org.uk/journal-letters-eappi-april-2008
    >> Our group of eight Ecumenical Accompaniers stood in a mute semi-circle under the caved-in roof, as we listened to the woman with minds still full of Palestinian checkpoints, daily humiliations, house demolitions and all the other manifestations of the Israeli occupation.
    The risk of physical injury or death is real, and qassam attacks are timed for 0755hrs to coincide with the school-run. Yet, on being presented by terrified Israelis, this group’s first thought was of Palestinian Arabs.
    That said, I wouldn’t have recommended that any ‘accompany’ Israelis on Egged buses or the open-street in Sderot at the height of the Second Intifada. They would have been up against people whose first intention was to kill them.
    More in the morning.

    Reply
  21. Dave

    Alec,
    re your comments about Nicola Jones’ theology as we have just met I don’t know much about you. What theological training do you have?
    I think there will be a need to consider how we each understand the others approach to their Holy Scripture.
    You write:

    Had she argued that the Gospel repudiates racism, as you do, that would have been one thing: but she clearly contrasted Galatians 3:28 with the supposed concept of Choseness in the Hebrew Bible and said, presumably unlike the Hebrew G-d, the Christian Messiah was not racist.

    Just to point out that, as a Methodist Minister, Nicola Jones is under the discipline of the Methodist Conference and over a year ago the conference passed a resolution stating that racism is a denial of the Gospel and that membership of a racist organisation such as the BNP is incompatible with Membership of the Methodist Church.
    I wonder if you would think differently if you started with a slightly different assumption. For a moment put aside your views of Nicola Jones and look again at what you have thought and written but this time try it with the assumption that Nicola Jones is not racist (given that she has stayed under the disciplne of the first Church to explicitly not allow racists to be members).
    It seems to me that there are at least 4 issues with the commonly made attacks on the speech Nicola made at Methodist Conference.
    a) the assumption of a dualistic world view. If you support our enemies you cannot support us. As I have said before this is wrong, dangerous and incompatible with Methodfist thinking.
    b) the assumption that she is racist. Try reading again with the assumption she is not racist (eg do not read implications that would only be true if she were racist).
    c) Read the comments written by Angela Shier-Jones and Pam BG on theConnexion and MethodistPreacher. They have explained Methodist Theology and both are excellent theologians (both far more qualified than me). It6 seems to me that only with an understanding of Methodist theology can you hear what Nicola was trying to say. Otherwise you are interpreting what was said with a theological understanding that is very different to hers. That does not seem like a good way to listen.
    d) Remember that Nicola was only one speaker and the whole of conference was able to speak and vote democratically. Are you claiming that she hoodwinked them all into being racist?
    As for Stephen Leah:

    Leah, as I said, believes this current boycott is a preamble to a full boycott of Israel. Even if he doesn’t succeed, I can guarantee he’s going to try and bring further attention on the Church.

    I don’t have the same understanding. Stephen might personally think that a wider boycott is needed to be effective (again not necessarily racist), but he has said that he knows the Methodist people would not accept that.
    He chooses to be part of the Church and therefore lives with the decisions of the Church even if he does not fully agree with them. That makes him quite different to David Hallam who will neither live by the decisions of the Church nor challenge them through the Church structures.
    Does the fact that the Methodist Church has a range of views about the responses to a situation make the Church racist? Does it mean the Church is any different to any other grouping? I don’t think that makes sense.

    Reply
  22. Joseph W

    Dave, you said regarding Stephen Leah:

    I don’t have the same understanding. Stephen might personally think that a wider boycott is needed to be effective (again not necessarily racist), but he has said that he knows the Methodist people would not accept that.

    Stephen Leah actually said:

    I am a Methodist preacher I’m also the chair of the York PSC. I personally would like to have divestment going a little bit further into the full boycott of Israel, but I know how much I can get away with in the churches sometimes. [...] Churches are paranoid about being critical of Israel sometimes, they want to be balanced all the time, we must put pressure on church leaders.

    This is actually a criticism of the Methodist Church’s moderation, in remarks made to fellow Israel-boycotters. It is not at all a mark of respect.
    Joseph

    Reply
  23. Alec

    Joseph W is Joseph Weissman, a Messianic Jewish blogger whom I’ve mentioned as having had the Police called in against him by two anti-Zionist and -Judaic blogger/priests (one of whom is a former NF member, and now compares the killing of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah to the Yehoshuan sacrifice; making me think of Pashal pogroms).
    So much for the muzzling antics of the pro-Israel lobby.
    Further on Leah, if he does not use his position to push for greater boycotts/divestment, I will eat my snazzy felt fedora. I have enough observational experience of similar groups in the secular sphere – notably the University and Colleges Union (UCU, or Uck-U) which has continued to do so despite being advized its illegeal – to expect this. At the very least, the PSC takes what could be termed a dualist view on the subject.
    Now, onto clattering away about the rest of Dave’s comments.

    Reply
  24. Dave

    Joseph,
    I have read what Stephen has said several times. I repeat my understanding is that he wants a wider boycott (and I do not accept that is automatically racist). He has said he wants the Church to have a wider boycott (which he is entitled to do, everyone is allowed to put their view at Methodist Conference). But he also recognises that the Church probably won’t agree with him (and yes he uses words like paranoid).
    I am sorry but I don’t see why you think I have not understood this. I don’t completely agree with Stephen. But I was not at conference and I accept the decisions of the whole conference (which as we know did not support all that Stephen wanted).
    I know that you don’t like what Stephen is saying, but the Church did not accept it either and as he has stayed in the Church he lives within the decisions of the Church.
    Unlike David Hallam I have not heard Stephen attacking the Church or threatening to take it to court. That would allow you to point to a lack of respect by Stephen but it has not happened.

    Reply
  25. Alec

    Granted that our comments may have passed like rubber ducks in the bath:

    Unlike David Hallam I have not heard Stephen attacking the Church or threatening to take it to court. That would allow you to point to a lack of respect by Stephen but it has not happened.

    Only by a very narrow definition of the term. I agree that David Hallam has been excessively antagonistic, but the Church power-structures are getting involved with the laws of men and presenting themselves at the fulcrum of international diplomacy. What does this have to do with internal procedures?
    Plus, he has expressed his determination to continue pressing for this in the Church, citing his position within it as authority.
    Dave, what would you say if a conservative Christian luminary – maybe the Pope – called for restraints on homosexuality, divorce or abortion? A common response would be that he shouldn’t get involved in politics.
    But, what is the subjective difference between this and Churches or individuals identifying as Christians making declarative statements on major foreign policy issues and seeking to direct international diplomacy?
    If they do this, it appears to be they also should accept criticism on those terms… not to then appeal to internal Church procedures. To paraphrase Baldwin, seeking influence without responsibility is the position a courtesan takes.

    Reply
  26. Alec

    Right.
    Dave, you asked if I have any theological background. No, and I have a respectful insolence towards the office of priest/minister. I do read literature on the subject (I mean academic authors, not Karen Armstrong), have taken elective modules and hail from a Christian upbringing. I think I have at least as great an understanding as yer average congregant.
    I could turn the question back on you: does Nicola Jones have any training in Jewish theology? Or is her understanding of the Hebrew Bible informed by her Christianity and pursuit of Replacement Theology?
    If she had said simply that the Gospel repudiates racism, as you do, that would have been one thing. But she explicitly contrasted Galatians 3:28 unfavourably to Judaism, and said that the Christian Messiah was not racist.
    Maimonides, the 12th Century Rabbi of Andalus, made no mention of the concept of Choseness in his 13 Principals of Faith. Even if Jones is not going as far as antinomianism, she couches her comments in Scripture and esoteric religious terms: where any one of us makes statements which rely on specialist knowledge, it is beholden on us to explain ourselves. Not others to give us the benefit of the doubt.
    How can I put this delicately? Jews are, to use a guid Scots phrase, scunnered with Christians telling them that they are their most reliable friends and/or disparaging their religion. Because of Jones’ links with Sabeel, I am as sceptical of her statements as I would be if she started dabbling in Kuyper’s Hamitism and linking-up with Churches in the US South.
    I recognize she was one speaker at the wider Congress, but she sits in the tent of the mood of the Church (are there any other countries which it has a specific policy on?) and, as far as I’ve seen, her statements have not been thought problematic or worthy of being spoken against.
    I’ll return to your comments on events themselves in Israel/Palestine, but now I have other tasks.

    Reply
  27. Dave Hart

    This has turned into the most level headed and balanced discussion on this topic around. The inflammatory remarks and sensationalist statements have been replaced by well thought out and respectful questions and answers. At last a real conversation, and I am learning plenty. Thank you.

    Reply
  28. Dave

    Alec & Joseph,
    I hope it is obvious that I would not support violent or hate attacks on anyone, Jew or otherwise. Also note that as I said membership of the National Front/BNP is not compatible with membership of the Methodist Church.
    Alec,
    I was asking about theology out of curiosity (it was obvious that you have read a lot) and to try to help understand each other.
    Oh and I always encourage respectful insolence towards ministers :-) Much healthier than many alternatives :-)
    I don’t know Nicola Jones myself, nor Stephen Leah.
    I do notice that Pam BG and Angie have challenged the assumption that Nicola was pursuing replacement theology. Both Angie (who was Director of Free Church studies at SEITE where I trained) and Pam are far more theologically qualified than me. I am very interested in theology in terms of mission and getting local churches to engage with theology. I claim no expertise in Jewish theology but am passionate about justice, peace & reconciliation (but those passions need to fit within my primary concern which is the people that the Church has sent me to serve which limits the time and capacity I have).
    We jump to different conclusions about what Nicola means by saying that God is not racist. If I have understood you correctly you believe she is criticising Jews and that she believes that Judaism sees God as racist. My understanding is that she is speaking to Methodists (remembering that it is a very recent thing for the proceedings of conference to be recorded and so available to the whole world) and is challenging them to understand that God is not racist. In other words she is criticising her own Church for failing to properly understand that God is not racist. I may be wrong in this understanding but in the context where she was speaking it seems to fit well.
    As I say it is a very new thing for the Methodist Conference proceedings to be available for people who were are there at the time. I think it is a good thing but clearly speakers need to realise that what they say will be heard by people from very different contexts. It is fair to say that Nicola probably did not take this into account, she would have probably thought that she was speaking to the Methodists gathered at Conference who ought to be very familiar with Methodist understanding. So I don’t think it is quite fair to criticise her for aiming her speech at the people in front of her that she probably thought would be the only audience.
    I don’t know much about Sabeel but have had a quick look at their website. Their purpose statement is:

    Sabeel is an ecumenical grassroots liberation theology movement among Palestinian Christians.  Inspired by the life and teaching of Jesus Christ, this liberation theology seeks to deepen the faith of Palestinian Christians, to promote unity among them toward social action.  Sabeel strives to develop a spirituality based on love, justice, peace, nonviolence, liberation and reconciliation for the different national and faith communities.  The word “Sabeel” is Arabic for ‘the way‘ and also a ‘channel‘ or ‘spring‘ of life-giving water.
    Sabeel also works to promote a more accurate international awareness regarding the identity, presence and witness of Palestinian Christians as well as their contemporary concerns.  It encourages individuals and groups from around the world to work for a just, comprehensive and enduring peace informed by truth and empowered by prayer and action.

    That sounds good to me. What is it that I don’t know about Sabeel that makes you compare it with hateful anti-Semitism?
    I know that David Hallam has accused Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek of denying the Holocaust. But David has incorrectly claimed that Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek spoke to the Methodist Confernce (in fact my understanding is that he spoke to the Ministerial Session, a meeting of Methodist Presbyters [one of our two types of ordained ministers] that happens before Conference begins). From what I have read those who were there and who have listened to what was said did not agree with David Hallams accusations. I have searched on google and I have not found evidence that he denies the Holocaust. Obviously I understand that when he speaks of the suffering of Palestinians in the same sentence as the Holocaust that is a comparison that is contentious but it is the opposite of denying the Holocaust. According to Wikipedia, at least, while he may have not been clear in the past he has more recently made it clear that he accepts the continued existence of the state of Israel.
    Israel is certainly not alone in terms of the Methodist Church making a stand (Zimbabwe and Fiji are a couple of recent examples). It is true to say that the situation relating to Israel is more complicated and so the Church is trying to be more careful and considered, hence the reports, the discussions and the resolution asking the whole Church to reflect on the report. It is not contentious when the Methodist Church condemns Mugabe. Maybe the very recent challenges to George Osborne and David Cameron on the injustice of the Comprehensive Spending Review (see the letter about their mis-leading figures about benefit fraud) might get a bit more attention. The Methodist people are active in justice issues all over the world, we don’t always have a high profile but we are going to keep raising our heads above the parapet on matters of justice.

    Reply
  29. Rachel

    I don’t claim to know Nicola, Stephen or Naim well, but I have at separate times been in a room with all three of them. All I can say is that, for those who have never met them, the picture being built up of them by the way that they are spoken about in many comments in this debate is totally out of kilter with my perception of them as people. That doesn’t mean to say I agree with everything that any one of them has ever said, but it does mean that I look to put a generous interpretation on their actions and words because my experience of them is as people of basically good heart and motivation.

    Reply
  30. Alec

    Well, I’m glad to be placed in the reasonable tent!
    Further to Rachel’s interjection, I have no personal knowledge of Ateek, Jones or Leah, but am familiar with similar individuals. They definitely can be highly personable and pleasant in their own circles or with individuals/groups they feel they can marshal for their cause, but a different face is presented to their designated foes.
    Ateek strikes as very Middle Eastern, full of all those contradictions which the Orientalist Western liberal finds “fascinating”, but would be less prepared to excuse in the likes of Ovadia Yosef (the Iraqi-born leader of Shas, who’s trotted out whenever a Jewish bigot is needed for titillation) whose contradictions are so deep that his Party even has a minority of Arab voters).
    Joe’s followed Sabeel and Jones’ pronouncements much more closely than I have, so I’ll leave a response to him. I’ll say, however, that is Jones’ merely were reminding the Church indaba that the Gospel is not racist (as Dave suggests), the way in which she did it is problematic… not least drawing from the Christian belief in the exclusiveness of Amos 3:2 [1] which informed so much of European antisemitism.
    Plus, although I naturally don’t believe that Arabs are children of the bondwoman, Jones’ attempt to re-classify them as Gentiles suggested she was at least aware of that aspect of Galatians 4:22/31 could be cited back at her when she claimed that, with the demise of Biblical Israel, so went Jewish claims.
    As for Leah, his chairing of any PSC (let alone one whose Secretary tried to present British Jews as bloc supporters of the EDL) is like the Rock of Gibraltar in terms of my getting round my preconceptions. He already has made clear his intention to pursue a full boycott, and perhaps the only reason he’s working within Church procedures is ‘cos he has the clerics’ ears – the quixotic PSC movement is anti-democratic and confrontational, as can be seen with its picketing designated businesses and the recent statement from Caroline Lucas MP that even if democratic means do not allow her a course of action she will continue.
    I’ll respond separately to Dave’s comments, but I’m splitting this up into manageable pieces.
    [1] From, I gather, the Church Fathers who tried to reconcile their belief in Choseness of their religion and their inheritance of the Hebrew Bible with the continued existence of Jews.

    Reply
  31. Joseph W

    Hi Rachel and Dave,
    Thankyou for continuing the dialogue here. I am not doubting the sincerity or passion of anyone, nor whether they are open and generous and individuals, nor indeed their concern for the Palestinians.
    What the issue is is their attitude towards Israel.
    With Stephen Leah it’s clear he wants a full boycott of Israel. I’ve read the orginal report, in which Leah and the working group recommend a boycott of settlement goods, and note that some Methodists may wish to boycott Israel fully. The report does not note, however, that some Methodists will oppose any boycott.
    The overall effect of this may be to make pro-Israel Methodists feel that they are somehow less than legitimate in the eyes of the church council, even if this is not the intention of the Church.
    Also, I think given the Terry Gallogly scandal, there is another issue which should be discussed, given the fact that Gallogly has worked closely with Leah in church advocacy: why Gallogly tried to embarrass a member of the Board of Deputies via false means, and indeed why he encouraged others to make it look as if Jewish Chronicle readers were Far-Right and racist.
    Many Jews feel that Gallogly owes them an apology, and in this instance I would hope Methodist ministers would also wish to resolve this issue for the sake of integrity, openness, and to restore broken relationships between Jews and Methodists.
    I appreciate the discussion that Dave and Alec are continuing regarding Rev Nichola Jones. What I will say at the moment, is that Rev Ateek hardly strengthens the boycotters case when some argue that there is no way one might consider the report to be antisemitic.
    Regarding Naim Ateek, he has accused Israel of continuingly crucifying the Palestinians during an Easter message, with the Palestinians now on the cross, and Palestine being “one huge Golgotha.” Ateek has also accused Israel of acting like King Herod at Christmas, seeking out the baby Christ and massacring Palestinian infants.
    For some, this may just be poetic imagery which underscores the unjust suffering of those who don’t have a voice.
    More strikingly, this imagery is consistent with the history of Christian anti-Semitism, which casts the Jew as continually murdering Christ in the Eucharist. That is why some Jewish communities were accused of deicide when the communion bread went missing, during the Middle Ages.
    In a similar vein, the idea of Israel acting as King Herod to murder the infant Christ is a throwback to darker times when Jews were accused of using the blood of Christian children to make matzah. You may say that there is a huge leap between the two, but the same themes are present throughout:
    Jews as a large, Christ-killing community
    Jews spilling the blood of holy children
    Jews doing this and getting away with it
    You may point towards anti-Zionist Jews who are not part of Israel or Zionism and say, therefore, that this proves there is no anti-Semitism.
    There have always been individual Jews who are not part of the wider community, this is true, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But just because they are some Jews not affected by the wider prejudice, still the great majority of Jews are.
    In the current context, most Jews do feel some spiritual or emotional connection to Israel. Most Jews are also – like most Christians – suspicious, cynical and critical of lots of Israeli government policy. Even Jews who profess no ideological love for Israel may still have family there. A third of the world’s Jews live in Israel.
    For them, security concerns are not cynical means-to-an-end so their government can build a wall, but they are utmost in their mind, as they wish to protect family members from hostile enemies.
    To then hear Ateek or others dismissing them as a collective nation of Christ-killers (except, killing the Palestinian, who becomes Christ in his suffering) seems very much to be simply the next chapter in the continuing history of Christian anti-Semitism.
    In addition, many Christians are aware of the history, but at times still slip in to unconscious prejudices, as indeed we all do if we’re not careful.
    But I hope that, by presenting some concerns Jews and Israelis may have about this report, we can all learn and progress in our knowledge and understanding of Jews, Christians, and indeed the entire world.

    Reply
  32. Alec

    Following on from Joe’s interjection, I wrote about the progressive anti-Judaic polemicists who now express their views in terms of the Nativity rather than the Paschal myth; as favoured by the likes of Anthony McRoy who, with his National Front past, no doubt retains a fondness for stark Gothic lettering.
    http://efrafandays.wordpress.com/2009/05/07/bertrand-russell-peace-foundation-betrays-bertrand-russell/
    It would appear that Ateek does both. In addition to the geographical incontinence of suggesting the separation barrier would have blocked the Magi from Bethlehem (they arrived from the East, not the West), presenting contemporary Israelis as the Roman Empire oppressing the new-Jews is also fraught with difficulties. For a start, at the time Rome saw [the] Jews as by far the most troublesome group.
    Joe stated that 1/3 of the world’s Jews reside in Israel. The antisemite always has been preoccupied with the Eternal Jew, which generally is found in the largest single concentration of ‘em. Once it was Eastern Europe or Amsterdam, then maybe New ‘Jew’ York… now Israel.
    Miles up, Dave offered a refutation of claims of Ateek’s Holocaust Denial by referring to his comparing the lot of Palestinian Arab Christians to that of European Jews during the Shoah.
    For the purists, that *is* one form of Denial. It aint just about denying the existence of the Shoah, but also its significance in order to diminish one of the founding myths of modern Israel. Except it’s more than a myth: the single greatest calamity which could befall a single people remains in human memory, and its members should be able to remember it as they wish; and anyone who disagrees can FOAD (pardon my acronymic French).
    “Anti-Zionist” arguably ceased to have a meaning after the establishment of modern Israel. Now it’s pursing a will o’ wisp because Israel is not going to be dismantled. More important, only Jews could describe themselves as anti-Zionist; and, formerly, those who did were more likely to have remained in Europe.
    This group went through a massive bottleneck about 70 years ago (can’t think why), so for all intents and purposes, Jews today are descended from Zionist forebearers.
    What is happening to Palestinian Arabs is in no way, shape or form analogous to the Shoah. Ateek is seeking to tell Jews that they are no better than their murderers, and this should be seen in the same light as turning-up at a rally outside the Jamaican High Commission wearing a white hood and waving burning crosses.
    The Arab Christian leadership has hitched itself to the militantly Rejectionist movement over the past 60 years, with the likes of George Hasbah of the PNLO and the well-dodgy Archbishop Hilarion Capucci who was gaoled by Israel in 1975 for gun-running. As did Yasser Arafat, Edward Said’s pursuit of identity politics was embarrassed by his Egyptian accent; and, on one occasion, he traveled all the way to the Lebanese border just so he could spit at Israel, without mention to the mistreatment of Palestinian Arabs a few dozen miles to the north.
    The demise of a Christian presence in the WB and surrounding countries is multi-causal. Israeli policies do, undoubtedly, have a role, but the better part is the development in militant Islamism of the tiger which the likes of Ateek, Capucci, Hasbah and Said thought they could ride.
    Meanwhile, here’s what one Arab Christian is up to:
    http://dover.idf.il/IDF/English/News/Up_Close/10/07/2601.htm

    Reply
  33. Dave

    Alec & Joseph,
    “What the issue is is their attitude towards Israel.”
    I hear loud and clear from you both some of your views and understanding about “pro-Palestinians” and their view of Israel.
    I have read some of the blog posts and threads relating for example to accusations about supporting the EDL and rigging polls.
    Having done that I am sure that if I went to people on the “other” side they would have just as impressive a list of problems with “pro-Israel” people and would make connections between them as well.
    I am saddened by this dualistic thinking that I see on both “sides”, everyone seems to be categorised as either all bad or all good based on whether they are on the same “pro” side.
    Life is of course not that simple. Not all the people on one side are good and not all on the other side are all bad. In fact few if any people are either all good or all bad.
    For example while you might fundamentally disagree or even hate what all “pro-Palestinians” say, they are not all the same. For example some are committed to violence and others to peace. If “pro-Israel” people attack the peaceful “pro-Palestinians” then you will end up with fewer peaceful Palestinians. Exactly the same is true the other way round. If we attack those on the “other” side who passionately disagree with us but who are at the same time committed to peaceful ways of expressing that disagreement then we cannot be surprised that violent people gain influence.
    We see in these discussions that we are all good at saying what is good about our “side” and what is bad about the other “side”. I have done this just as everyone else has.
    I talk about the good aspects of the report (that it clearly supports the existence of Israel, that it stands with the vulnerable and hurting, …). I talk about the bad on the other side (how David Hallam has responded so aggressively and unhelpfully – as if this debate needs someone to ratchet up the anger and tensions).
    However, I don’t talk about the bad of my side very much :-) Obviously we have been understood by many to be anti-Semitic which must mean the paper was not good enough and the speeches at conference needed to take into account that they would be public. As a Member of the Methodist Council that saw drafts of the paper I am one of those at fault. Nor do I talk much about the good that has come from David Hallam’s interventions in that we are now talking and trying to understand each other better.
    What I am wondering is whether there is any possibility of these two “pro” sides also recognising that their own side is not all good and the other side not all bad.
    Is it possible to hear from people who would describe themselves as “pro-Israel” about anything that they recognise as not good on their own side and as good on the other? Then the same would be needed from those who would call themselves “pro-Palestinian”.
    For example do you both feel there is only good to say about the Wall and the Gaza War? Can you find good to say about any “pro-Palestinians”.
    Just as you have called for more balanced views from the Methodist Church is it possible to get more balanced views from you?

    Reply
  34. Alec

    Yes, I kept meaning to respond to your specific points on Israeli policy, but new interjections kept arriving.
    I don’t see there to be any shame in considering oneself pro whichever side, and aint axiomically opposed to being pro-Palestine just as my being pro-Israel shouldn’t be taken to indicate my views on Palestinian Arabs (apart from those trying to kill Israelis). My objection is that those who term themselves as such are, in fact, anti-Israel in that they attach themselves to the most belligerently anti-Israel group who often turns out to be the biggest killers of Palestinian Arabs.
    Furthermore, I do think that placing oneself as above such foibles is a form of pride. Similar for my view on pacifism where war is considered something we lesser mortals bother about.
    Above, Dave, you said that you consider yourself pro abstract concepts such as peace. But, whose peace? It’s often unfairly asked of pacifists or anti-war ‘activists’ what they’d do if their child were being attacked. Of course they’d respond. It’s only when someone else’s child is being attacked that they plead restraint. So said one Christian pacifist:

    Because of their personal experience and convictions, [early] Friends did not deny the reality of evil and of conflict. Nor did they equate conflict with evil. They were well aware of the suffering which a non-violent witness could bring in an imperfect world. This is in contrast to those who identify peace with the absence of conflict and value that above all things. It is the latter who have given modern pacifism its bad name and have led their critics to refer to them contemptuously as ‘passivists’. The failure to take evil and conflict into account as elements in our human condition and an obsession with the need for peace and harmony have led pacifists badly astray… Christian pacifists [are] not exempt from the temptation to sacrifice others for the sake of peace.

    And, to be honest, it’s often attacks on Jewish children where restraint is called for. The speaker witnessed first-hand the descend into naked pro-Nazism which the Peace Pledge Union took in the 1930s, and I linked to the EAPPI report from Sderot in which the Ecumenical Accompaniers’ minds wandered when they saw terrified Israeli children.
    I’m not saying that pacifists or anti-war types shouldn’t be offered the opportunity to attempt to reconcile these contradictions, but they’re hampered immediately by an inherent hypocrisy in considering ourselves “anti-war” when we live protected by the greatest law enforcement agencies or security and military apparatuses in the history of mankind.
    In the case of those who flit between here and placements with the EAs or Christian Peace Making Teams in the region, this often is defined by an assumption that they can do so merely by flashing their documents as Western “peace activists”. If I went to Delhi, I’d take water-purification tablets; if I went to St. Petersburg, I’d watch my wallet; if I went to Lima, I’d take out travel insurance. That some believe they can enter and leave an active conflict zone without molestation points to just how little they see either side as flesh ‘n blood humans, and not cardboard cutouts according to their worldview.
    I know that CPTers are present in the Great Lakes region, but there aint much risk to themselves there. The calamity which befell Tom Fox showed just how ill-prepared they were for actors which didn’t act as Western-style security forces – British, American, Israeli – but whose first priority was to kill and maim.
    I wouldn’t recommend that EAs or CPTers take their witness to an Ahmadi mosque in Pakistan, but the least they could do is offer themselves as human shields in Sderot in order to dissuade me of the notion that they’re poseurs in a perpetual adolescence.
    Gosh, despite vowing to address specific questions, I’ve gone off at a tangent. I’ll return later in the evening.

    Reply
  35. Joseph W

    For example do you both feel there is only good to say about the Wall and the Gaza War?
    Both came about as a response to an ongoing terror campaign, and as such, there is nothing “good” to say about either of them, they were both responses to practical necessities. In both cases Israel had to act to protect her own citizens, and neither is desired either by Israelis, Jews, or indeed anyone. No sane person desires war, and I am upset of hearing at the loss of any life. Both the Separation Fence and Operation Cast Lead were ultimately successful in dissuading and preventing terror attacks from being carried out on Israeli soil, but clearly neither is desireable.
    Can you find good to say about any “pro-Palestinians”.
    Yes, plenty. As I said before:
    Thankyou for continuing the dialogue here. I am not doubting the sincerity or passion of anyone, nor whether they are open and generous and individuals, nor indeed their concern for the Palestinians.
    This is not about their pro-Palestinianism. I too am pro-Palestinian. I am pro-everyone, as is Alec. The problem is the anti-Zionism of the aforementioned individuals, which is very much meshed in with trends of Christian theological antisemitism, sadly. Being pro-Palestinian has nothing to do with how vociferously you denounce Israel, any more than being a true Liverpool fan is about how much you hate Everton.
    If you do wish to read my personal criticisms of aspects of right-wing Israeli politics, you can start here:
    http://jij.org.il/blog/?p=204
    and of Far Right settlers here:
    http://hurryupharry.org/2009/12/14/effi/
    or indeed in lots of places here: http://www.roshpinaproject.com
    The issue I am concerned about is not protecting Israel from criticism. I myself frequently criticise Israel.
    Rather, the issue is mainly whether trends of theological antisemitism are re-occuring and perpetuating themselves in contemporary Christian discourse about the modern state of Israel, and how we can work to curb this and refine our language and theology.
    The aim is not to prevent anyone from criticism, to somehow protect our own ideologies, or to censor critics. The aim is for greater accuracy about how we talk about a very sad and complicated situation.

    Reply
  36. Dave

    Alec,
    Thanks, caught it and it is now visible. Don’t know what caught the filter but given the 5263 spam comments currently in the spam folder I don’t want to play with it much :-) These are the first false positives I have had in a long long time.

    Reply
  37. PamBG

    The aim is not to prevent anyone from criticism, to somehow protect our own ideologies, or to censor critics. The aim is for greater accuracy about how we talk about a very sad and complicated situation.
    As a Messianic Jew, can you articulate what a “correct” doctrine is? In contrast to the doctrine that was articulated?
    As I’ve said before elsewhere, one of the things that I find incredibly odd is that the Christian Zionism of conservative Christians is a theology at actually sees Jewish people as outside God’s covenant. Christian Zionists are “pro Israel” only as a means to their own theological ends: the return of Christ and judging/damning all non-Christians, including Jews who have not accepted Jesus as the Messiah.
    Whereas liberal/mainstream Christian theology (which I’m assuming that Nicola Jones was articulating) sees God’s covenant as including both Jew and Gentile. But we also think that the covenant has nothing to do with the land of Israel.
    If you approach Christianity with the mindset of “If you don’t hate Israel’s enemies with an unqualified hatred, then you hate Israel”, you actually end up aligned with the people who think you’re damned to hell and you end up telling the people who think you’re part of God’s covenant that they are antisemitic and they hate you.
    It’s a strange collision of worldviews. It’s easy to see how there can be much misunderstanding.

    Reply
  38. Dave

    Alec,
    Trying to respond to your challenge on pacifism.
    First I would not hold myself up as a good example of a pacifist. In one sense I am a reluctant pacifist as I am only a pacifist because of my understanding of the teaching and example of Jesus.
    So as someone who is a pacifist not because I think it works (although actually I think it does) but because I don’t think the teaching and example of Jesus let me be anything else how does it affect my behaviour. I want to say that it means I am willing to sacrifice myself rather than take the life of another, but as you can see I am safely here in Leicester not acting as a human shield somewhere. So a poor example.
    When I rant against the lack of gun control in the US and their bloodthirsty attitudes typified by a typical challenge I have been presented with (relating to both gun control and equality in a marriage) about what you do to protect your family if an armed person comes in the house and you have a gun. My answer
    - don’t have a gun, you can’t be tempted to use it
    - think laterally, why tackle the intruder instead of focusing getting your family out and calling for help.
    - why try to be a single hero rather than working as a team?
    As regards pacifism in a situation with violence in society I think we need to take a long term view. Meeting violence with greater violence has never worked in the long term. It is therefore crazy to think it will work now so start lowering the stakes, start removing violence before the “other” side because as it scales down you benefit too. That applies to both Israel and Palestinians alike except that in the West Bank and Gaza Israel is the one with the power and so has more potential to make a difference.

    Reply
  39. Dave

    Joseph,
    I had never heard of Stephen Leah (well except as a name on the report), Terry Gallogly, Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek etc before this discussion.
    I am also a poor student of history.
    However, one thing that concerns me about this debate is the ease which people are accused of being anti-Semitic.
    For example take me.
    I believe Israel has made some terrible mistakes that have destroyed many lives but that belief is not a growth in anti-Semitism but a lack of patience with excuses for violence against vulnerable people.
    Now we are in a situation where I feel that if I say the Wall is doing terrible things to Palestinians or that the Gaza War and the subsequent prevention of humanitarian aid is appalling then I will be labelled as anti-Semitic, pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel as my friends have been in this debate, and I believe I am none of those things.
    How can I as a Methodist say that all the following is wrong
    - suicide
    - mortar attacks on homes
    - destroying peoples homes
    - separating people from the land, families, jobs and hospitals by a war with arbitrary and unjust border controls
    - going to war in response to 30 deaths in 8 years and killing 1,400 in a few weeks
    - building a wall that grabs yet more land in occupied territory
    - teaching young kids nothing but violence and hatred and the “beauty and purity of suicide bombing
    In one sense I guess I don’t care what I am labelled. I think these things are all wrong. I also think that Israel as the most powerful party has the greatest duty to change it’s response.
    It saddens me to hear of either the Gaza War or the Wall being described as successes with no mention of the suffering they have caused. As if the rocket attacks and the suicide bombers are the only things that cause suffering.
    It worries me that the Holocaust seems to be used at times as a kind of trump card that means no other suffering ever counts.
    I have no interest in or support of anything that works for the destruction of either Israel or Palestinians.

    Reply
  40. Joseph W

    As a Messianic Jew, can you articulate what a “correct” doctrine is? In contrast to the doctrine that was articulated?
    How do you mean “as a Messianic Jew” – there are various disagreements amongst Messianic Jews as to what constitutes correct doctrine on a variety of issues. You can read more in Dr Richard Harvey’s book Mapping Messianic Jewish Theology.
    Thus, I can’t exactly claim to *know* what correct Messianic Jewish doctrine is, although of course I will say what I think correct doctrine, as a believer, as might anyone.
    As I’ve said before elsewhere, one of the things that I find incredibly odd is that the Christian Zionism of conservative Christians is a theology at actually sees Jewish people as outside God’s covenant.
    This depends which covenant you’re referring to – the covenant made with Abraham to him and his descendants, the Sinaitic covenant made with Moses and the Children of Israel, the covenant promising a Messiah born to Israel from David’s line, the new covenant outlined in Jeremiah and brought into life by Jesus – which one?
    Christian Zionists are “pro Israel” only as a means to their own theological ends: the return of Christ and judging/damning all non-Christians, including Jews who have not accepted Jesus as the Messiah.
    This is one strand of Christian Zionism, but will not be true of all Christians expressing pro-Israel sentiments.
    This article is particularly useful in analysing the different forms and nuances of Christian Zionism:
    http://procz.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/christians-and-zion/
    It’s a strange collision of worldviews. It’s easy to see how there can be much misunderstanding.
    Perhaps, but Christian anti-Zionists cannot avoid the same charge – hence the Institute for the Study of Christian Zionism sharing a platform with an Islamic apocalyptic teacher who prophecised the destruction of Israel in 2022:
    http://hurryupharry.org/2009/03/11/fundamentalists-and-crazy-end-times-prophecies/
    You can’t expect everyone to share the same theology. But actually, John Hagee – the most prominent Christian Zionist and often the most easy to criticise – doesn’t believe Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, or that Jews need to believe in Jesus.
    You will find beliefs in Christian Zionism about salvation and soteriology ranging across the spectrum, as indeed you will in Methodism, the Messianic movement, or indeed any segment of Christianity.

    Reply
  41. Joseph W

    I should add, I think most Christians are supportive of Israel for practical reasons, they may have Jewish friends and neighbours, family in Israel, may have been deeply affected by Holocaust memorial events or visiting Auschwitz and feel there is an importance in keeping alive the Jewish nation in Israel, or may simply enjoy a philo-Semitic reading of the Bible.
    Eschatology is really one approach to Christian Zionism, that not all Christian Zionists will share. I even know believers who prefer to call themselves “Zionist Christians”, such is the association between the term “Christian Zionism” and eschatology in the popular imagination.

    Reply
  42. Joseph W

    Dave, briefly (then will reply in depth), I haven’t accused you of being anti-Semitic. You may be wrong on some issues, I may be wrong on some issues, we know this. You can disagree with a Jew and it doesn’t make you anti-Semitic; you can disagree with a Jew about Israel and it doesn’t make you anti-Semitic.
    There is a debate to be had and it is worth having.
    However I am interested in two of your remarks in particular:
    “It saddens me to hear of either the Gaza War or the Wall being described as successes with no mention of the suffering they have caused. As if the rocket attacks and the suicide bombers are the only things that cause suffering.”
    I did not say that Gaza or the War were “successes”, I said they were successful in achieving their aims. I am well aware of the pain and suffering that have been caused as a direct consequence of both. That is why I said no sane person desires war, and I grieve any loss of life as I’m sure you do.
    I think it is right and proper to discuss the effects of both defensive measures on Palestinian society and how both can be ended. That is a discussion worth having.
    However, if you want to know whether I care about such and such, you only need to ask and I will tell you what I think. You say you don’t want people jumping to false conclusions, and neither do I. If you are unsure as to whether I truly care about a certain event, just ask and I will say.
    If you think that by noting the reduction in suicide terror attacks on Israeli soil I am in any way belittling the suffering of others then I am interested as to why you think this is the case.
    More disconcertingly, you say:
    It worries me that the Holocaust seems to be used at times as a kind of trump card that means no other suffering ever counts.
    How? Where? Who has said this, and in which context? Do you feel this argument has been used either in these comments or in the wider debate on Methodism and anti-Semitism, and if so: where?

    Reply
  43. Alec

    I’ll leave y’all to bash it out. Instead of responding to Dave, I watched The Pillars of the Earth and then re-watched on C4+1.
    Amazing, there was a Christian presence, unlike the current Robin Hood retelling which brought in a feminist character from another religion, not to mention the teeth-grinding references to contemporary wars. If retellings of Robin Hood always reflect the mood of the time, this one reflects the Age of Stupid.
    Before I go to bed thinking of Lady Aliena, I’ll suggest that only Jews can described themselves as Zionist; as modern Zionism arose from the same ideas in the following the Enlightenment and Industrial Revolution which gave other other national movements.
    I am no more a Zionist than I am a South Korean.

    Reply
  44. PamBG

    Thus, I can’t exactly claim to *know* what correct Messianic Jewish doctrine is, although of course I will say what I think correct doctrine, as a believer, as might anyone.
    The intent of my question was to understand where you’re coming from.
    You seem absolutely, 100% certain that what Nicola Jones said was intended to be antisemitic and that it came from someone with a a clear antisemetic agenda.
    I heard it in the context of liberal/mainstream Christian theology. In hearing it in that context, I didn’t hear antisemitism.
    So rather than “arguing” with you about how I heard it, I’m trying to understand the context in which you heard it. That’s the intent of my question.
    This depends which covenant you’re referring to
    I’m referring to “the covenant” that Christians see. Commonly referred to as “going to heaven” (I’d want to heavily demythologize that, but it would be a distraction in this discussion). Christian Zionists, for the most part, hold a Christian theology that sees a Jewish as damned unless s/he accepts Jesus as the Messiah.
    This is one strand of Christian Zionism, but will not be true of all Christians expressing pro-Israel sentiments.
    Sure, I understand that.
    By the way, what is pro-Israel? I think that’s actually an important part of this debate. I would say that I’m “pro Israel” in that I support the State of Israel to exist in self-determination, in peace and in security. But for many of our recent conversants, that’s not good enough. Being pro-Israel also seems to mean “Israel, right or wrong” and, for some, seeing Palestinian civilians as necessary collateral damage and beyond empathy.
    erhaps, but Christian anti-Zionists cannot avoid the same charge.
    But I have no interest in defending anti-Zionism. Nor, do I think most British Methodists want to defend anti-Zionism or to be anti-Zionist.
    I should add, I think most Christians are supportive of Israel for practical reasons, they may have Jewish friends and neighbours, family in Israel, may have been deeply affected by Holocaust memorial events or visiting Auschwitz and feel there is an importance in keeping alive the Jewish nation in Israel, or may simply enjoy a philo-Semitic reading of the Bible.
    I share all those experiences. I work as a hospital Chaplain with three Rabbis, two of whom are Orthodox.
    And I still maintain that I don’t have to be anti-anyone in order to be pro-Israel.
    As Dave said, what I find frustrating is the dualism that seems to be required by many people (including David Hallam and his supporters). I think that’s what Nicola meant by God is not racist. We take it as read that God is not against the Jewish people. But we also take it as read that God is not against the Palestinian people. I’m perfectly capable of condemning the tactics of Hamas without thinking I hate Palestinians. And no one complained in the middle of the decade when the Church condemned Hamas’ tactics. But, for Israel, we must say that everything it does is righteous or we are racist. Sadly then, I must be content to let people think I’m racist because it seems that they need me to be that.

    Reply
  45. Dave

    Joseph,

    “I also think that Israel as the most powerful party has the greatest duty to change it’s response.”

    “How Nietzschian.”
    I was thinking of Luke 12:48

    Reply
  46. Joseph W

    Dave, Luke 12:48 is about knowledge not power:
    But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
    Are you suggesting that Israelis know more about God than Palestinians, and if so why?

    Reply
  47. Joseph W

    Pam, a few things:
    1) I don’t think you’re racist.
    2) Of course you can describe yourself as pro-Israel and be against some Israeli policies still.
    3) You say: Being pro-Israel also seems to mean “Israel, right or wrong” and, for some, seeing Palestinian civilians as necessary collateral damage and beyond empathy.
    Who has actually said this, and where? Don’t you think you might be jumping to conclusions about how they view Palestinians, in the same way you don’t like people doing about how you view Israelis?
    But I have no interest in defending anti-Zionism. Nor, do I think most British Methodists want to defend anti-Zionism or to be anti-Zionist.
    That is excellent.
    Re. Rev Jones, I accept there’s more than one way to read her comments. I accept you may have heard her comments as part of a liberal Methodist world view.
    “So rather than “arguing” with you about how I heard it, I’m trying to understand the context in which you heard it. That’s the intent of my question.”
    The context:
    Rev Jones is a member of Friends of Sabeel UK, which is a group full of signed-up, anti-Israel anti-Zionists, many of whose patrons sympathise with terrorist attacks against Israelis and seek a full boycott of Israel. The aforementioned Naim Ateek is the international president of Sabeel.
    She is using the theology about covenants to justify a partial boycott of Israel, having worked alongside Stephen Leah in putting together the document, whom she knows full well seeks a full boycott of Israel.
    For this reason, I worry that her words in this context may have anti-Semitic connotations.
    That does not mean that everyone expressing this theology about covenants is anti-Semitic, but I hope I have outlined my concerns about Rev Jones in a fair and reasonable way.

    Reply
  48. Dave

    Joseph,
    I don’t agree that Luke 12:48 is just about knowledge and I don’t believe that Israelis automatically know more about God than Palestinians.
    It seems to me that reading it to be just about knowledge would be heading towards a Gnostic cliff, there you would find some people have a special secret knowledge that God revealed only to them the real purpose of Jesus …
    When you take into context the preceding verses to me there is a lot about having power and having resources.
    Do you believe that anything else in the Gospel fits with Jesus saying only those with more knowledge need to respond?

    Reply
  49. Joseph W

    When you take into context the preceding verses to me there is a lot about having power and having resources.
    Okay, sure here are the preceding verses from the section of Luke 12, CEV (emphasis mine):
    “Be ready and keep your lamps burning just like those servants who wait up for their master to return from a wedding feast. As soon as he comes and knocks, they open the door for him. Servants are fortunate if their master finds them awake and ready when he comes! I promise you that he will get ready and have his servants sit down so he can serve them. Those servants are really fortunate if their master finds them ready, even though he comes late at night or early in the morning. You would surely not let a thief break into your home, if you knew when the thief was coming. So always be ready! You don’t know when the Son of Man will come.
    Peter asked Jesus, “Did you say this just for us or for everyone?”
    Who are faithful and wise servants? Who are the ones the master will put in charge of giving the other servants their food supplies at the proper time? Servants are fortunate if their master comes and finds them doing their job. A servant who is always faithful will surely be put in charge of everything the master owns.
    But suppose one of the servants thinks that the master won’t return until late. Suppose that servant starts beating all the other servants and eats and drinks and gets drunk. If that happens, the master will come on a day and at a time when the servant least expects him. That servant will then be punished and thrown out with the servants who cannot be trusted.
    If servants are not ready or willing to do what their master wants them to do, they will be beaten hard. But servants who don’t know what their master wants them to do will not be beaten so hard for doing wrong. If God has been generous with you, he will expect you to serve him well. But if he has been more than generous, he will expect you to serve him even better.”

    The only reference to supplies is in the future tense – the master will put the servant in charge of food supplies, until then the servant is expected to serve.
    There is no mention at all of the word “power” or any concept relating to it. Instead, the only one who has any power in this context is the master himself, who is presumably God.
    So I can’t see what this has to do with Israel having more moral responsibility than the Palestinians on the basis of their collective size or might.
    To use an example from the Hebrew Bible, Abraham had a very small and powerless nation (it was still in the womb of his barren wife) whereas King Saul had a very large nation, but God held them equally to account for their faith.

    Reply
  50. Dave

    Joseph,
    While I try not to hear the tone of David Halllam very much he has certainly called Methodists anti-Semitic. Some of the commenters on theConnexion, the-kneeler and David’s own blog have thrown the accusation around very freely and it has been used on other pro-Israeli websites, google is your friend for checking this.
    IMHO this thread has been unique in being far more thoughtful and considerate. I thank everyone involved for that.
    “Rev Jones is a member of Friends of Sabeel UK, which is a group full of signed-up, anti-Israel anti-Zionists, many of whose patrons sympathise with terrorist attacks against Israelis and seek a full boycott of Israel. The aforementioned Naim Ateek is the international president of Sabeel”
    This continues to be a stumbling block for me. The Sabeel website says:
    “Sabeel strives to develop a spirituality based on love, justice, peace, nonviolence, liberation and reconciliation for the different national and faith communities.”
    Clearly everyone on the working party worked with Stephen but also clearly they did not agree with him about a full boycott because they did not propose that in their document. In other words the view that you are complaining about did not convince the working party even enough to put it as an alternative option.
    Methodism requires us to work with people with whom we do not agree about everything. Indeed in calling for a more balanced report you want us to do more of that, so why get at Nicola for working with Stephen.
    I struggle with the idea that we condemn people so quickly for the people they are willing to talk to. It seems to be guilt by association all over again.

    Reply
  51. Joseph W

    Dave, again it is hard to comment on what might have been said elsewhere, you are not responsible for other comments and neither am I. Again, I’m not sure which specific examples you are referring to, although I will google around. I think if there is variety in the tone and nature of different comments, then that proves that there aren’t really “sides” but lots of different individuals bringing their perspectives to the table. This is surely a good thing.
    Regarding Sabeel, I don’t think that Sabeel just saying they are striving to develop a spirituality based on love, justice and peace doesn’t mean they actually have one.
    To take another example from the Apprentice, when they are in the board room saying how enthusiastic and hard-working and successful they are, it doesn’t mean a lot to Lord Sugar if they actually aren’t.
    If you would like I can show you the evidence of Friends of Sabeel patrons supporting terrorism and boycotting Israel.
    Patron Manuel Hassassian supports firing rockets into Israel, supports Taleban rule in Afghanistan, and thinks that Hezbollah are saviours of Arabs. Patron Ibrahim Hewett even opposes Holocaust Memorial Day.
    Dalrymple, Hassassian, Hewett and Jenny Tonge seek a full boycott of Israel. Tonge sympathises with suicide bombing, and thinks Israelis may have stolen organs from victims in Haiti. She got this from an anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist.
    You say:
    “Methodism requires us to work with people with whom we do not agree about everything. Indeed in calling for a more balanced report you want us to do more of that, so why get at Nicola for working with Stephen.”
    I don’t mind Nicola working with Stephen, I don’t think this is a bad thing.
    But I think they could have also worked with a pro-Israel Methodist from the outset. That way they could have ensured a fairer and more balanced document from the outset.
    Furthermore, you say:
    “Clearly everyone on the working party worked with Stephen but also clearly they did not agree with him about a full boycott because they did not propose that in their document. In other words the view that you are complaining about did not convince the working party even enough to put it as an alternative option.”
    What is worrying, however, is the fact that the working party did not mention the fact there are Methodists who do not wish to boycott Israel at all.
    This is a fact that has surfaced in the mainstream media recently – surely the Methodist report could have picked up on it too, in the year they had to prepare their recommendations for the conference?

    Reply
  52. Joseph W

    Again I think my reply to your comment @9:22AM may have found its way into your spam folder, sorry for the inconvenience, I think it happens with blogs sometimes.

    Reply
  53. PamBG

    Who has actually said this, and where?
    David Hallam and a number of his supporters have said this. Part of the reason I’m having this conversation with you – and I realize that you are not they – is that it’s hard to get a coherent answer. And I’m actually trying to understand a point of view different from my own but I’ve given up hope trying to do that with David.
    Don’t you think you might be jumping to conclusions about how they view Palestinians, in the same way you don’t like people doing about how you view Israelis?
    Sure. That’s why I’m hedging my sentences. I’ve asked.
    Rev Jones is a member of Friends of Sabeel UK
    OK, I understand. I don’t know enough about the organization and, like Dave, I’m a bit stumped by the varying claims. I know that organizations often behave differently than their written mission statements.
    But it actually makes a lot more sense to me to understand your concern about her involvement with this organization rather than to suddenly find David’s accusations filling the blogosphere one morning.

    Reply
  54. Alec

    Right, I aint going to be distracted, and address Dave’s specific points:

    How can I as a Methodist say that all the following is wrong
    - suicide
    […]
    - teaching young kids nothing but violence and hatred and the “beauty and purity of suicide bombing

    That’s something we can agree on, but you should recognize there is a tendency to mitigate this or “place it in context” amongst people you may rub shoulders with.
    I once spoke to a Quakeress, and attempted to explain the damage which suicide-terrorism does to its own society; whereby the individual is de-humanized and becomes simply an inanimate tool (the sort of thing which causes psychotic episodes in Bladerunners). She wailed “but they’re not pacifists”.
    Quite apart from the subjective difference between the aforementioned and using conventional weaponry, the true disgrace of this was considering her pacifism to be a source of personal pride which others need not adhere to (and, let’s face it, Arabs are expected to be a little bit savage). It’s the racism of low-expectations.
    I often feel that whilst ‘normal’ people get their fix for causing area-wide destruction through games like Grand Theft Auto, such peace-activists do so by sympathizing with foreign terrorists. Whilst I don’t celebrate her death, Rachel Corrie was reported to have become physically excited by the proximity of violence.

    - mortar attacks on homes

    Again, something we can agree on. So, will you agree with me that the EAPPI missive I linked-to exhibited an empathy failure?

    - destroying peoples homes

    Again, not something to be welcomed, but you should recognize similar and worse occurs across the globe; and the lacunae of interest in that – or obsessive interest where it occurs in Israel – is absolutely part of the problem.
    In the case of the Bedouin of the Negev, where itinerant camps are established, compensation and financial incentives are offered to adopt a static lifestyle in response to a phenomena which is seen across the globe when a recently semi-nomadic group meets post-industrial life; and accentuated by the greater number of this group in a smaller area (after the return of Sinai to Egypt – where Israeli Settlements genuinely were illegal – many Egyptian Bedouin remained on the Israeli side either due to force by Egypt or intent).
    In the Negev, they received cut-price deals on land which are not open to Israeli Jews (confirmed by a recent High Court judgment), and there is considerable evidence to suggest that the PA is financing Bedouin groups with the knowledge that doe-eyed Westerners will side with a cute ethnic group at odds with an industrialized State.
    Miles up, I compare the Bedouin to European Romani (both lifestyle and official treatment). I don’t expect you or anyone else to take a view on what a third party (i.e. the French Government) is doing to the Romani: the fact that there is not the same hysterical opposition to it, however, as there is to the treatment of Bedouin or other Arabs’ [1] property rights in Israel is absolutely part of the problem.

    - going to war in response to 30 deaths in 8 years and killing 1,400 in a few weeks

    Not from lack of trying on the part of the qassam crews. If, like Hamas, Israeli authorities didn’t invest in air-raid warnings and bomb-shelters, as well as operating their military units from within civilian areas (often the same building), there’d be much greater death tolls.
    If someone walked down Syston High Street with a six-shooter, and started firing randomly… even if they didn’t have extra ammo, I suspect you’d find reasons not to go to the shops!
    The reflexive accusations of disproportionality is largely bunk. By this argument, a ‘proportional’ response to the shootings, last month, outside Hebron of four Israelis (five, if you consider the pregnant woman, discovered by her ambulance officer husband) would be to go into Hebron and shoot-up a random car.
    Or, when a successful terrorist attack is carried out, demolishing the perpetrator’s house without loss of life.
    Likewise, as with the ship of fools which was the Mavi Marmama, if an axe-wielding zealot came running to me baying for my blood, and I had a 9-mil, I’d shoot him (just as the shooting of Mark Saunders was deemed justifiable): and, to be honest, I won’t believe anyone who says otherwise.
    The concept of tort has been incorporated into international convention for as much a century, and could be applied to Operation Cast Lead (or, more specifically, to Hamas’ liability viz. its promotion of the previous attacks).
    If you take a deontological pacifistic view, that’s one thing. I assume you don’t, however, ‘cos of your implicit acceptance that a ‘proportional’ violent response is acceptable.
    (The tagline on my blog – Peace Through Superior Firepower – was the legend on Bill Pullman’s helmet in Aliens. I also could ask if the Israelis should use harsh language against qassam attacks.)
    Hamas would throw everything it had – after the disengagement and complete evacuation of Settlers – with the intention of maximizing civilian causalities (and not investing in civil defence shelters and the like), whilst after years of threat to her civilians, Israel responded with a fraction of her arsenal which were directed at individual targets (when you see photographs of destruction, ask for a wide-lens shot to see the intact buildings slap-bang next door) often with pre-warning through leaflet-drops and mass-texting.
    A just as great, if not greater argument could be made that the disproportionality was on the part of Hamas or Hezbollah. Likewise, viz. your reading of Luke 12:48, Palestinian Arabs have the love of all the beautiful people in the world and financial security (equivalent of four Marshall Plans now) with no expectation of reciprocation; whilst Israel is subjected permanently to the beady eye of self-appointed hierophants of international organizations and NGOs.
    Who’s the more powerful?

    […] 30 deaths in 8 years […] 1,400 in a few weeks […]

    Setting aside quibbles about the precise number of deaths, expressing it in such precise terms always has struck me as horrendous bean-counting, or an unspoken attempt to turn it into a game of Risk. Neither of us are epidemiologists, so we cannot say if there is a statistical significance to the disparity.
    As I said above, there are many factors at play, and 1,400 deaths may represent a quiet weekend in the Great Lakes region: but this is not raised to levels of similar importance.
    Furthermore, the 30 dead Israelis were civilians. Many hundreds of the dead Gazans were combatants [2] or placed recklessly/deliberately in harms way by Hamas.
    Splitting the death toll-up, we see that many of those classified as children were, in fact, teenage boys who were, quite possibly, being used as mules or actual combatants by Hamas. This is a cynical attempt to present the IDF as wantonly killing children.
    This assumption is backed-up by the fatalities amongst women and the elderly, which is proportionately lower than other conflicts: not least the Israeli dead during the Second Intifada in which 70% were non-combatants, 30% women and 15% under 17 (and, all known not to be linked to combat). I cannot find my source for this, but will dig it out if asked.
    As with Joe, I don’t consider Operation Cast Lead to have been a desired consummation. What I’m objecting to is the Goldilocks approach which is consistently critical of Israeli policy whilst giving the benefit of the doubt to Palestinian Arabs [3].
    The porage aint never going to be just right.

    - building a wall that grabs yet more land in occupied territory

    Hardly, unless every dunam of land in Israeli hands is considered to be an affront to human dignity.
    The first point which must always be addressed is that the security barrier is a concrete wall [4] only for a fraction of its length. The rest largely is ‘soft’ fence with pressure pads and motion detectors, and which could be dismantled when the threat subsides. Most Israelis have no desire to see it remain, but they have a greater desire not to be blown-up for the crime of drinking espressos [5] or going to pizza parlours.
    It also allows lifestyle activists to protest it, or relax afterwards in Tel Aviv bars, without the fear of what Israelis were threatened with beforehand.
    Where the barrier has followed a route for no discernable security purposes, cases can and have been brought to the Israeli High Court.
    It has had another effect of removing the cause for military units to enter WB towns after a terrorist attack, thus allowing a degree of economic stability. Boney-M recently played in Ramallah (although they were asked not to play By the Rivers of Babylon).
    And, that is how peace arrives… the next generation coming to put aside the reasons for conflict, and not being told to fit into worldviews of those sitting in safety thousands of miles away.
    [1] It is only recently that Bedouin Arabs have been classified as Palestinian Arab, suggesting the aim is to artificially increase the numbers which Israel has wronged.
    [2] Not soldiers ‘cos, in defiance of the Geneva Convention, Hamas does not wear recognizable military uniforms or operate from clearly demarcated areas.
    [3] By that I mean, Israelis are judged by the disreputable (real or perceived) actions of their State whilst Palestinian Arabs are seen as individuals caught-up in a wider conflict which they have no culpability for.
    [4] Cheap concrete supplied to the PA by Saudi was appropriated by members of Arafat’s clan, and sold at market prices to Israeli companies. It is entirely possible some ended up in the security barrier.
    [5] I’d support blowing-up anyone who says expresso.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8umNgqeoeE

    Reply
  55. Dave

    Joseph and Alec,
    Just got back from worship and kicked the spam filter til your comments fell out.
    Will respond later, got a bike to try to sell this afternoon :-)

    Reply
  56. Alec

    Being pro-Israel also seems to mean “Israel, right or wrong” and, for some, seeing Palestinian civilians as necessary collateral damage and beyond empathy.

    Yes, I agree that this would be part of the problem as well (seeing both Israelis and Palestinian Arabs as ciphers for our spiritual and humanitarian declactation).
    Neither Joe nor I believe that criticizing Israeli policies is inherently antisemitic. The concern is that when one says that it *cannot* be (which, although you have used these words, I know you don’t genuinely believe it unlike some), ‘cos it creates the possibility of Nazis and other antisemites goosestepping their way in.
    Likewise, I share Joe’s discombobulation at Dave’s belief that the Shoah is used as a cudgel by many. In many experience, Israelis and/or Jews don’t go on about it half as much as entrenched critics of Israel.
    It is only recently that Survivors have started talking about it in details, after a lifetime of it filing it away. Children of Survivors report the unspoken horror in their childhoods, part of their parents which they never got to see; and only now, after piecing it together from blank stares or empty spaces in family photographs, are they getting an idea of what happened.

    Reply
  57. PamBG

    @Joseph
    and the lacunae of interest in that – or obsessive interest where it occurs in Israel – is absolutely part of the problem.
    I’m not sure what this means – and I had to look up “lacunae” to mean “gap” – but if you mean that there is no interest in other justice issues that’s simply untrue.
    The Methodist Church, has, in the past, spoken up about all sorts of injustices including the condemnation of Hamas bombings. We’ve spoken about Darfur, Fiji, Iraq, Sri Lanka, and a Christian response to terrorism.
    We warned our members of the growing influence of the BNP and their efforts to co-opt a Christian identity. We have forbidden members of the Methodist Church to be members of the BNP. (And, for what it’s worth, there was no groundswell of protest amongst members that would be consistent with widely held Methodist anti-Semitism.) We’ve spoken out about gambling, abortion, refugees and human trafficking. In addition, we actively help people in both the UK and abroad through various initiatives.
    Without wanting to support Antisemitism or anti Zionism in any form, I really don’t think it’s fair at all to suggest that this report evidences “an obsessive interest in Israel” whilst being not at all interested in any other areas of public life.

    Reply
  58. PamBG

    life.
    @Alec
    Neither Joe nor I believe that criticizing Israeli policies is inherently antisemitic. The concern is that when one says that it *cannot* be (which, although you have used these words, I know you don’t genuinely believe it unlike some), ‘cos it creates the possibility of Nazis and other antisemites goosestepping their way in.
    Well, I certainly would not take the view that criticizing Israeli policies cannot be anti-Semitism. I wonder if you think anyone has said this, because I don’t.
    I’ll be very frank. David Hallam has been advertising his disgust for The Methodist Church and its officers since his blog began. I don’t know if it’s true in actual fact, but he does a good impression of seeming to regard anyone who disagrees with him and/or who won’t submit to his instruction as being both unintelligent and evil. I don’t think this is about his love for the Jewish people at all. I think he’s seen what he thinks is an opportunity to show the Church that they should have all been listening to him in the first place and I think he’s been looking for such an opportunity for awhile. And I’m cynical enough to think that he also will have some personal advantage by taking up this cause.
    As I have said, I do think the report needs to be a lot more balanced in telling both sides of the story. I think that “we” were naïve in thinking that this report would stay an intra-Methodist report. Given that it has not, I believe that a just examination of the situation demands that both sides’ stories be told.

    Reply
  59. Methodist Preacher

    Pam, until I saw your last comment I was thinking that this has turned out to be a very interesting and productive discussion.
    Having spend much of the day on Church duties I will leave it for my own church and circuit to judge my contribution to the Methodist Church.
    I do however want to nail one little lie that you and several others have tried to sneak into the recent discussions.
    You say:
    “I’m cynical enough to think that he also will have some personal advantage by taking up this cause.”
    I can assure you that this is not the case. I am not in anyone’s pay if that is what you are trying to imply. Sometimes people ally themselves with a cause because it is right, not because they have been bought.
    Now I hope that an otherwise interesting and productive discussion can continue.

    Reply
  60. Dave

    Alec & Joseph,
    You asked where I had seen some of the comments about Methodism that are different to the way this thread has gone. Here are a few
    First using the Holocaust as a trump card. Here is one

    Avraham Reiss 10.27.10 at 10:35 pm
    Angela S-J, you shoukd be aware that when you discuss anything concerning Jews, that we all see ourselves as graduates of Auschwitz.
    Since then we shoot first and then ask questions. And it isn’t going to change – unless we find faster triggers.

    As for the Methodist Church being anti-Semitic here is one

    Daphne Anson 10.27.10 at 11:50 am
    Of course the Methodist resolution against Israel is antisemitic, for the reason outlined by Jonathan Hoffman above.

    As regards being anti-Israel = anti-Semitic we have (with snips removed for conciseness):

    pseudonym 10.27.10 at 11:42 am
    …To be anti-Israel today is simply the 21st Centrury way of being anti-semitic. …
    Make no mistake, critiscism of Israel IS anti-semitic, …
    To “pretend” that one can be “anti-Israel” whilst at the same time not being anti-semitic, is at best naive at worst deliberately misleading.

    For individual Methodist being anti-Semitic we have:

    Avraham Reiss 10.27.10 at 4:23 pm … So, PamBG, your boycotting of Israel is pure anti-semitism, and your justifications are untrue.

    More later, family viewing of Time Team now.

    Reply
  61. PamBG

    David, I’m glad to hear that you are not in anyone’s pay.
    I think, however, that we can still derive non-monetary personal benefit from actions for which we are not payed.
    If you are saying that you will derive no benefit or satisfaction from this action, then I hear what you’re saying and I remain doubtful.

    Reply
  62. PamBG

    Just to make a bit of a side-point. I actually bought something made in Israel yesterday. In equating a boycott with goods made in the disputed territories with “boycotting Israel” Avraham was making the same false connection that many have made throughout this discussion.
    By the way, does anyone actually know how to purposefully buy goods made in the disputed territories? I sure don’t and I therefore wouldn’t know how to boycott them either. Which is part of what makes this whole thing ironic to me.

    Reply
  63. methodist preacher

    PamBG. I think of some of the issues I have raised on my blog – gambling, climate change, MPs expenses, an Island Parish, and so on. No one has ever came anywhere near suggesting that I am benefitting personally, even when they totally disagreed with what I am saying.
    And yet for some reason, on this issue, several regulars on Methodist blogs are posting speculation about my personal finances and how I will benefit.
    Why is this issue attracting these conspiracy theories?

    Reply
  64. Joseph W

    “I think that “we” were naïve in thinking that this report would stay an intra-Methodist report.”
    Well, how could it possibly? Considering the report tells Methodists to discuss its recommendations to non-Methodist Jews, to formally announce support for the non-Methodist Kairos document and show solidarity with non-Methodist Palestinian Christians, and to publicly encourage a boycott of non-Methodist settlement goods.

    Reply
  65. Alec

    Dave, I have no idea who Avraham Reiss is, but two thoughts:
    a) It is not unknown for anti-Israel agitators to adopt stereotypical Jewish names to make barking mad comments. I’m unsure, though, why he has chosen as a surname an obscure village in Caithness, although this might be an Anglicized version of Reisen like the Levis called themselves Lewis.
    b) If he is real, someone should get on the blower to the Elders an’ tell them one of their number is blabbing about the single worldwide voice of Jews: my guess is he had a bit too much of the Shabbat wine at one of those Friday meals they all attend.
    Reiss speaks only for himself and his immediate companions. That said, its optical isomer (there’s that term again) can be found in self-styled anti-Zionist Jews or Asajews (“As a Jew, I am appalled at X, Y or Z action from Israel”).
    Howard Jacobson’s just won the Booker Prize dealing with precisely this form of moral vanity which appears amongst some Jews who believe they speak for all other Jews. It’s weird.
    (Edit, I just have checked Reiss’ blog, and see it avers that the Jewish Chronicle is a pinko liberal anti-Israel hotbed. Mad as a box of frogs.)
    I’m reluctant to take as representative of wider opinion the comments from someone posting as “pseudonym”.
    Daphne Anson, again, speaks for only herself. I agree with a lot of what this Jonathan Hoffman says (such as Ben White’s involvement), but do think he has a tendency to paint things in black and white (which a lot do on both sides the debate).
    Incidentally, Hoffman blogs at the JC (what was that, Reiss? It’s anti-Israel?), and when Stephen Leah’s Secretary at York PSC tried to rig a JC poll, it explicitly was to get at Hoffman.

    Reply
  66. PamBG

    Why is this issue attracting these conspiracy theories?
    There is a lot that you can get out of this without conspiring with anyone. Like the satisfaction of supposedly “proving” that The Methodist Church and its ministers are, in the main, evil and apostate.
    It would appear to me that you’ve been looking for such an opportunity since day 1 of your blog.

    Reply
  67. Alec

    Well, I certainly would not take the view that criticizing Israeli policies cannot be anti-Semitism. I wonder if you think anyone has said this, because I don’t.

    Well, you said summat which looked like that in your first interjection on this thread. Again, I don’t think you genuinely believe it, but plenty do… such as, it seems, Stephen Leah who thinks “Churches are paranoid about being critical of Israel sometimes”.
    Anyone noticed how criticism of Israel never is off our screens and streets? Good, let’s move on.

    I think that “we” were naïve in thinking that this report would stay an intra-Methodist report.

    For the record, I don’t think the Church’s power-structures or the movers and shakers in the motion – such as you or Dave – was antisemitic. Just, as you say, naïve: I’d compare it to Puzzle’s being asked, by Shift, to put on a snazzy fur jacket.
    There are many genuine non-partisan groups which should be supported before the entryists behind this. Friends of Arava, OneVoice, Children of Peace, the village of Deir Abu Meshal on the WB to name but four.

    The Methodist Church, has, in the past, spoken up about all sorts of injustices including the condemnation of Hamas bombings. We’ve spoken about Darfur, Fiji, Iraq, Sri Lanka, and a Christian response to terrorism.

    It wasn’t my intention to ascribe these lacunae [1] to the Church’s response: that wasdirected at popular protest.
    The fact that the Church does have this strong interest elsewhere was one of the reasons so many were disappointed by the decision passed at the indaba in July.
    That said, as far as I can tell, youse don’t advize against accepting products from named producers simply by dint of their location (e.g. WB Settlements) but because of links to ruling elites (e.g. producers in Zim linked to ZanyPF [2]).
    In response to another of Dave’s missives, someone posting as ‘Cotswold Quaker’ averred that Arab employees on a Settlement industrial estate would support a boycott. S/he has yet to substantiate that or even excuse their taking the shekel from an employer they would so clearly despise.
    An example of how financially secure Westerners put their own desire to punish Israelis ahead of any peaceful settlement can be seen in the attempted spoiling tactic against Peace Oil.
    Despite bringing together Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, Jews and Christians and Muslims and Circassians and Druze, there still would have been some degree of political control by Israeli Jews; so this was considered unacceptable.
    Fortunately they failed, but it really is beyond the pale.

    We warned our members of the growing influence of the BNP and their efforts to co-opt a Christian identity.

    As long as they have Lee John Barnes (LLB Hons, JJB Sports), there aint much danger of that.

    We have forbidden members of the Methodist Church to be members of the BNP.

    Another Church which doesn’t welcome the ‘Rev.’ Robert “My Minder Will Head-Butt You” West.

    We’ve spoken out about gambling, abortion, refugees and human trafficking.

    Although, those aint specific countries.
    [1] More like an absence rather than a mere gap.
    [2] Zim is a good case to cite for those who hanker back to the glory days of the anti-Apartheid struggle (before some of them were born). Mad Bob’s flaws were known at the time at Independence, but he was cut far too much slack because of the continuing of Apartheid SA across the border was deemed more pressing (even when the assault on Nkome’s ZAPU and Nbedelers was ongoing). There’s no reason, as far as I can see, for supporting Mugabe over Smith.

    Reply
  68. Dave

    Alec,

    Incidentally, Hoffman blogs at the JC (what was that, Reiss? It’s anti-Israel?), and when Stephen Leah’s Secretary at York PSC tried to rig a JC poll, it explicitly was to get at Hoffman.

    Yes I saw that and was amazed at the stupidity that led to that nasty action. Does anyone think that episode could have worked out well for pro-Palestinians?
    Mind you the pro-Israel folks are not exactly gentle in their verbal responses are they.
    But does a really nasty and stupid thing to do need to be escalated up into a huge conspiracy and an opportunity for hate to spill out everywhere.
    Looks like many of these discussions need to enforce Godwin’s law :-)
    David & Pam, please can we keep this helpful thread clear of side debates about David’s motivations.

    Reply
  69. Dave

    Pam,
    About the buying thing. I heard that there is supposed to be something in place for supermarkets etc to identify the West Bank as the source of good so that it is possible to know the origin of what you buy.
    I believe the Methodist Church has written to the supermarkets asking them to keep to that labelling (is it an agreement or legislation or what? I don’t know) is probably the sum total of the Methodist Campaigning.

    Reply
  70. Dave

    Alec,

    if an axe-wielding zealot came running to me baying for my blood, and I had a 9-mil, I’d shoot him (just as the shooting of Mark Saunders was deemed justifiable): and, to be honest, I won’t believe anyone who says otherwise.

    If you take a deontological pacifistic view, that’s one thing. I assume you don’t, however, ‘cos of your implicit acceptance that a ‘proportional’ violent response is acceptable.

    I am still a beginner in pacifism. As I have said earlier my reason for wanting to be a pacifist is that I see no support for any alternative in the teaching, life and example of Jesus and until Augustine I don’t think the early Church did either.
    According to Wikipedia:

    Pacifism may be based on moral principles (a deontological view) or pragmatism (a consequentialist view). Principled pacifism holds that at some point along the spectrum from war to interpersonal physical violence, such violence becomes morally wrong. Pragmatic pacifism holds that the costs of war and inter-personal violence are so substantial that better ways of resolving disputes must be found. Pacifists in general reject theories of Just War.

    So I am not sure where that leaves me. A bit of both I guess.
    I do think the concept of the Just War is now broken beyond repair and the Gaza War is a good example (of course I am not saying that a Christian Doctrine of the Just war can be forced onto Israel, but I am saying that a Christian in Israel would not have been able to match the criteria for a Just war).
    That is not about assigning blame to Israel, I just don’t think the rules of Just War fit modern circumstances where battles happen around where people live and both forces deliberately place their military in and around homes.
    Jesus lived through Roman occupation but did not resort to violence (and when someone came for him with a sword stopped a violent response and stuck his ear back on).
    And the answer about the 9mm and shooting someone is to agree I can’t trust myself, therefore for me the answer is not to have a 9mm in the first place. Pacifism is not something to turn to when an axeman is at the door, it must be choices and lifestyle from way back.
    Anyway off to bed.

    Reply
  71. Alec

    Sadly, Dave, I don’t think the stupidity of doing so would be a hindrance in their circles. Proud post-modernists that they are, they believe in truthiness and how such ‘embellishments’ are necessary.
    I can assure you that Tony Greenstein (the co-conspirator of the York PSC Secretary) is not a Zionist plant: although he has accused just about everyone on the Left of being both Zionist and antisemitic.
    There’s a story from 1982 of his reducing a teenage girl to tears ‘cos she was wearing an Israeli badge. He was surrounded by the men in the audience, whilst one of their girlfriends led the girl away with the mock-whisper “don’t mind Tony, he’s just being an 4rs3h0l3″.
    That became a catchphrase for the next few years.
    More seriously, Mick Napier of the Scottish PSC – whom I last saw whimpering like a schoolboy when a Po-Po told him to put away his placards on Waverley Station concorse – has ‘moderated’ Greenie on the e-mail, but not Galloghy who was the instigator.
    Greenie previously had tried to censure Napier for antisemitism in his promotion of the Stalinist-era calumny Perdition – a play claiming the Shoah was stitched-up by the Nazis and Zionists – at St Augustine Church on Holocaust Memorial Day and supporting an openly antisemitic Jew.
    Revenge.
    Yes, nutters like Reiss can be lippy as well, but they aint the ones trying to import a regional conflict onto British streets.

    Reply
  72. Alec

    About the buying thing. I heard that there is supposed to be something in place for supermarkets etc to identify the West Bank as the source of good so that it is possible to know the origin of what you buy.

    the legal objection to that is that other countries are allowed to market produces from elsehwre but packaged in their borders as being from that country, so legislation would require singling out one country )i.e. Israel).
    Also, it gives information to the crazies who go into stores and load their trollies with tiny packages from Israel, andleave the staff on minimum wage to clear it up whilst they go back to studying for a degree which they’ll use to get a graduate position at PWC.

    Reply
  73. Dave

    Joseph & Alec,
    I have heard Alec’s negative thoughts about pacifists and I have also heard you criticise Sabeel for links to people who are sympathetic to violence against Israel.
    That seems to leave very little room for anyone to stand for Palestinians (as you will criticise them either for being unrealistic/idealistic pacifists or terrorist supporters).
    So far I have only heard rejections of organisations that support Palestinians. So please tell me which organisations a Methodist could support with out being accused of supporting anti-Semitic, terrorists. I believe many Methodists are very concerned about what is happening to the people in Gaza and the West Bank.
    I think we have been fairly criticised for lack of balance in our working group (no Israel/Jewish representation) that prepared this report (although I recognise that a balanced group might have never come up with a report given the dualistic approach taken by both sides). In my own role on Methodist Council I try to make sure I challenge such a lack of balance in the future.
    However, we have also been criticised for the groups that were involved in the group (Sabeel, York PA).
    I would like to know which Palestinian support groups could have been included in the working party (alongside pro-Israel groups) without al these accusations of anti-Semitism and terrorist support?
    Which Palestinian groups are acceptable to you?

    Reply
  74. PamBG

    Well, you said summat which looked like that in your first interjection on this thread. Again, I don’t think you genuinely believe it.
    It’s certainly interesting how people read what a person says. If I have in my head the idea that I don’t hate Israel, I interpret my words differently than someone who begins with the idea that I probably do hate Israel.
    I said what I said because I truly believe that, over and over on the other blogs, the connection has been made that any criticism at all of the actions of State of Israel probably (or automatically?) make a person someone who hates the Jewish people.
    Anyone noticed how criticism of Israel never is off our screens and streets? Good, let’s move on.
    To be frank, the reason I’m still talking about this is because the individuals who are emotionally invested in telling the world how hateful The Methodist Church is. I only heard about this report from the blogosphere and my first reaction on seeing the video was “What a silly, ineffective resolution that will help no one”. I wouldn’t have given it a second thought otherwise.
    There are many genuine non-partisan groups which should be supported before the entryists behind this. Friends of Arava, OneVoice, Children of Peace, the village of Deir Abu Meshal on the WB to name but four.
    That sounds much more constructive to me. I always prefer initiatives that build up rather than tear down.
    About the buying thing. I heard that there is supposed to be something in place for supermarkets etc to identify the West Bank as the source of good so that it is possible to know the origin of what you buy.
    OK, thanks. Not something that I’m aware of this side of the pond.

    Reply
  75. Joseph W

    Dave – OneVoice Palestine, Canon Andrew White’s Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, the Musalaha organisation which brings together Palestinian Christians and Messianic Jews, and as Alec mentioned, Friends of Arava and Children of Peace – to name a few.

    Reply
  76. Alec

    Interesting, Joe. A couple I didn’t know of.
    An easy-to-contact member of Children of Peace is Prof Brown.
    http://www.adjb.net/sab/index.php
    Dave, it’s not so much a negative view of pacifism as as recognition of the deep inner strength which is required to practice it, and which is easy to bypass in this society where we remain benefiting from the dividend of 1945 [1].
    Again, a respectful insolence towards formal groups (or, in the case of the PPU, that I sooner would admit to having had an axe-murderer in my family in the 1930s than one who was high-up in the PPU – which I can explain if asked).
    Twenty years ago, poll tax *dissenters* went to gaol rather than pay the tax. Bloody heroes, the lot of them. We now are in a situation in which the public discussion has been taken over by individuals who believe they or others can picket private businesses or destroy private property, of take part in some of biggest public order disturbances since the Poll Tax *riots*… all without arrest. And they compare themselves to Rosa Parks!
    As far as I can see, a genuine pacifist should recognize the inherent violence in any form of State control. Not use it when it suits them.
    Miles up, you spoke of the Church’s involvement with critiquing the Spending Review. In my view, this is any British Church’s first priority… not just because it involves the pastoral case of its own congregants, but because it’s addressing people they’ve elected through the democratic process.
    Our country’s Imperial rule is gone and aint never coming back (and, in the case of Israel, she had her nose well-and-truly snubbed). The attitude amongst some, however, hasn’t: the terms may have changed, but I see the White Man’s Burden living on.
    [1] An episode of Foyle’s War featured a military psych hospital in which one patient lashed out at another. The doctor explained “violence never solves anything”, at which point the first patient started laughing manically, “where have you been for the past five years?”.

    Reply
  77. Dave

    Thanks for the suggestions, I will follow these up (hopefully from Wed will have proper speed broadband rather than this TalkTalk “limp a long” that we have had for 2.5 months).
    As for the negative view of pacifism one of my bug bears is where people get us into a huge mess due to their incoherent thinking and use of voilence and then complain when pacifism does not have a quick fix. Iraq is a good example. You can’t prop up corrupt leaders when it suits you, sell arms to people and then be surprised when you seem to have no option but violence.
    My 1st level quick fix involves stopping selling arms to anyone at all. Ban selling and shipping arms by anyone on British soil or traded through British markets.
    2nd level is massively cut out “defence” budget and replace it by serious spending and commitment to justice & reconciliation work.
    As you say it is easy for pacifism while protected by the state to be hypocritical which is why I want to see pacifism by the state.
    The Methodist Church is very active in this country but we are also very much a world church with partners in many places (some 75million Methodists worldwide and growing).
    I would never use people saying something is not the Churches business to decide what we should do. If that were the case we would do nothing as there are always people to object to everything we do.
    Earlier there was a comment about Churches and politics. I firmly believe that the Methodist Church/People need to be involved in politics although not Party Political.

    Reply
  78. Alec

    Sorry about the delay in getting back.
    Pacifism, private individuals intervening in foreign political events, however your view on the indaba motion and Israel/Palestine has changed during this discussion, whatever you wish.

    Reply
  79. Michael Jacobs

    Just to confirm God’s covenant with the Jewish people has been renewed on account of the Evil that emanated from the Cross and culminated in the Holocaust.
    In effect the Christain Church has been established for self-interests of power, might and self glorification at the expense of the exploitation and suffering of Jewish people for whcih it has shown no true concern.
    The claim of supercessionism is yet another example of self delusional superiority, a mere myth the source of Evil that the church has not confronted or purged itself from the crimes commited and stain on Gods good name.
    Michael Jacobs

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>