On blogging

In the last (at the moment) comment (of 93) on my post 42: Why would someone do this? I said to Alec "Am planning a post about engaging with the substance of Israel / Palestine. But no time yet."

Before I do that I want to respond to another point that seems relevant.

David Hallam has written a post First they came for the Jews, then they came for the Christians, then they came for…. which shared his distress over the killings in Baghdad on Sunday. However, he ended that post with a remark that I want to comment on when he said:

I just happen to note that the professional Methodist bloggers haven't mentioned Sunday's massacre.

Some clarifications.

  • There are no "professional" (in the sense getting paid for blogging) Methodist Bloggers in the UK.
  • I have been writing "42" since 5th August 2003. Nobody has ever paid me to write "42" (which should be obvious from the title "42: My life, the universe and everything". I have never asked anyone to pay me for writing "42".
  • "42" is not hosted on a free platform, I pay all the hosting costs and have never asked anyone for a contribution towards those costs.
  • I was not paid a stipend by the Methodist Church as a probationary minister until September 2005 by which time "42" was two years old. Before that I had never been paid by the Methodist Church.
  • While I would consider "42" as part of my ministry in the sense that every part of my life is part of my ministry it is not part of my work. In other words the Leicester North Circuit does not support "42" and I do not count the time I spend on it as "work" thus reducing the time I give to the Circuit.
  • My role as a Methodist Minister is not a 9 to 5 job and so I am sometimes able to write on "42" during the day without it being part of my work.
  • Most of the time I spend on "42" is late at night after evening meetings. For example I have written 4 posts in the week since my holiday the post times are 1:03am, 1:22am, 12:43am, 11:08pm. The one post written during the day we between meetings, I got home from the last of them at 10:30pm. The previous 3 posts were written while I was on holiday.
  • Anyone who has been reading "42" from the beginning deserves a medal but anyway they would note a significant reduction in the volume of posts since I became a minister (and a reduction in traffic).

My reason for making these clarifications relates to the debate we have been having on Israel and Palestine. When David "notes" that no professional Methodist bloggers have commented on a horrific set of killings in Baghdad then I believe it is problematical.

Firstly, I don't think it is helpful when a blogger, who celebrates his connection with the Methodist Church in the blog title and description, deliberately tries to mislead people.  David Hallam knows that there are no "official" or "professional" Methodist Bloggers.

My concern is that people might quite rightly be saying: Well David Hallam is right, if the Church is paying these people to blog then why are they not commenting on these events? They might be thinking that the Methodist Church us deliberately ignoring some events. Equally they might try to present the thoughts of some bloggers as if they were official (which would of course for "42" requires them to ignore the disclaimer with the site).

So "42" is neither official nor professional (well the latter should have been obvious from the quality of the writing). However, like the rest of my life I consider it to be subject to the discipline of the Methodist Church. I take being an itinerant Presbyteral Minister within the Methodist Connexion very seriously. Among many things (such as being sent by the Church to where they want me) it means I hold my blogging accountable to the Church. That happens principally through the local Churches and Circuit where I am primarily accountable to my Superintendent Minister. I recognise that I have the potential in a public way to damage the Methodist Church which is why I have always ensured that the training institute when I was training and all my Superintendents since have been aware of what I do on "42" in my own time.

I have no idea why David thinks I should be commenting on the killing of Christians in Baghdad. It is not as if I regularly comment on the news.

One thing I am sure of. If I am going to start repeating the news and commenting on killings around the world I will not do so by commenting just on the killing of Christians. I believe it is unhelpful if Christians only comment on the deaths of Christians. It makes it seem that we we put a higher value on the lives of Christians than we do on the lives of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Atheists etc. That is not my belief, my Christian faith teaches me that all people are created in the image of God and that all people are unique and infinitely valued & loved by God.

So as much of what we write is connected with the local and with people who are of the same faith it would be easy to wrongly imply that we believe we are loved more by God that other people. If I then start commenting only on the death of Christians it will reinforce views by Jews, Muslims etc that I don't think they are as valuable to God.

Instead I want to celebrate that to God every person matters. That God notices and loves the refugee as much as the suicide bomber as much as the victim of a terrorist attack as much as the elderly lady dying in a British hospital. Indeed it is precisely because of this aspect of the nature of God that we are called to act in Israel/Palestine as well as in Syston, Leicester, UK.

38 thoughts on “On blogging

  1. Methiodist Preacher

    Hi Dave, Thanks for the clarification. Given that in recent months the Methodist Church and our bloggers have spent a lot of time agonising over the inconvinieces faced by Palestian Christians because of Israeli security measures, I thought it interesting to note that non had picked up this other incident in which church goers were massacred in the same region. It will be interesting to see in Thursday’s Recorder if the Connexion have issued a statement.
    Of course the incident in Baghdad did not involve Jews and this may give us a clue to the selectivity. Perhaps it doesn’t. Why do you think there has been a lack of interest in the massacre Dave?

    Reply
  2. Alec

    David, as Dave said, blogs are not news portals and the latest war-crime by jihadists occurred less than 48 hours before you wrote your missive.
    As disagreeable as the Church’s partisan preoccupation with a regional conflict at the eastern end of the Medeterreanean is, it is based on committee decisions and motion proposals rather than instapundit-style blogging. I know there are interests within the Church about Christian minorities abroad, and if the Recorder carries discussion of recent news events, I assume it will carry this as well.

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  3. Alec

    Moving onto Dave’s other comments:

    I believe it is unhelpful if Christians only comment on the deaths of Christians.

    I don’t know about you, but you must be aware of an attitude – I have no doubt in the Church itself – that “Muslim anger” should be listened to over Palestinian Arabs (with the implicit assumption that they are Muslim) or Iraq/Afghanistan.
    What is this if not communalizing populations?
    Likewise, it’s dispiriting to see the fanatical thug, Roshonara Choudhry being presented as acting out of anger over Iraq. If she were, she’s disregarding the views of Iraqis and their elected government which, despite all that’s happened over the past seven years, still considers the invasion to have been for the best.
    Plus, looking at her name, I assume she’s Bengali. Not Iraqi, or even Arab.

    That God notices and loves the refugee as much as the suicide bomber as much as the victim of a terrorist attack as much as the elderly lady dying in a British hospital.

    There is something about loving the sinner but not the sinner. It’s demeaning to the non-homicidal maniacs amongst us to be bracketted with suicide-terrorists, just as those claiming refugee status over the past few years often have been looking to use this country as a logistical base for their regional wars.

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  4. Dave

    Alec,
    Oh no it’s not (in the spam folder, at least not any more) :-)
    Would comment more but just passing home on way to Nottingham for Hospital visit (and yes I will drive, not cycle).

    Reply
  5. Dave

    But I will just pause long enough to ask.
    David,
    When are you going to correct your remark about professional bloggers?
    At the same time when are you going to correct your mistakes relating to Rev Dr Naim Ateek. That includes recognising that he did not speak to the Methodist Conference but to the Ministerial Session (ie to a relatively small number of Ministers meeting before Conference begins).

    Reply
  6. Methodist Preacher

    Dave, there seem to be some people who have all the time in the world to write a blog. I wasn’t actually thinking of you. So that comment remains “uncorrected”.
    In fact I wished you blogged more often. Whilst I disagree with you on one or two issues I find many of your posts encouraging, especially as you are keen to embrance news concepts ministry without being “gimmicky”.
    As to Naim Ateek. The ministerial session is part of the Methodist Conference, albeit a much smaller gathering. I have no doubt that the intention was to “wind up” the Ministerial delegates in advance of the arrival of the delegates. But technically it was still part of conference.
    In my first post on this disgusting episode in our history I did mention that it was the Ministerial session:
    http://methodistpreacher.blogspot.com/2010/07/holocaust-dismissed-as-zionist-tool.html

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  7. Tony Buglass

    “…there seem to be some people who have all the time in the world to write a blog.”
    I suspect this is another one of David’s potshots in the direction of Richard Hall. Like Dave, he is neither a professional nor official blogger, but David refuses to hear that, since Richard spends a certain amount of time commenting on his blog, so therefore must be doing it as part of his work – unlike David, who reminds us frequently that he has a job to go to.
    I don’t run a blog. I comment on a few others. I freely admit that I may well do so during my working day, but then my working day starts after breakfast and finishes when I go to bed. That’s the nature of Methodist circuit ministry; it is often difficult to tell what is my time and what is work time. I also believe that commenting on blogs and taking part in discussions which might be apologetics or evangelism, as well as fellowship and pastoral care, is part of my ministry. That doesn’t make me a ‘professional blogger, any more than Richard or Dave are ‘professional’ bloggers. But that doesn’t fit with the snide caricatures that David likes to draw, so I doubt he’ll acknowledge the point. It just tells me that he has failed to understand the way some of us exercise ministry.

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  8. Methodist Preacher

    Tony, if you want to submit an article for my newly established guest pages you would be welcome.
    And yes, no “scnide” references I am referring to our friends at Connexions. Perhaps I should have made that clear.

    Reply
  9. Alec

    As to Naim Ateek. The ministerial session is part of the Methodist Conference, albeit a much smaller gathering. I have no doubt that the intention was to “wind up” the Ministerial delegates in advance of the arrival of the delegates. But technically it was still part of conference.

    I wouldn’t have said “technically” because technically that would mean Ateek was a formal guest of the inbaba.
    I agree that he was, however, brought as an appetizer by those responsible for proposing the motion.

    Reply
  10. Dave

    David,
    “And yes, no “scnide” references I am referring to our friends at Connexions. Perhaps I should have made that clear.”
    I don’t know why you think that singling Richard out makes it acceptable to make false statements.
    Richard is no more a professional blogger than I am. Just a lot more experienced and a lot more readership. And you know this.
    Recently you have falsely accused Richard of being professional, of being semi-official, of being anti-Jewish and more.
    I wonder if the quality of your legal case against the Methodist Church is similar.
    How can it possibly do your case any good to attack Richard with lies?

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  11. Dave

    David,
    “In my first post on this disgusting episode in our history I did mention that it was the Ministerial session:”
    So you admit that in every other post that mentions Rev Dr Maim Ateek you have chosen to mis-represent where he spoke.
    Your posts are worthy of the Dail Mail, and no I don’t mean that as a complement.

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  12. Dave

    Alec,
    “I don’t know about you, but you must be aware of an attitude – I have no doubt in the Church itself – that “Muslim anger” should be listened to over Palestinian Arabs (with the implicit assumption that they are Muslim) or Iraq/Afghanistan.”
    I am sorry you have lost me. I don’t get what you mean. People I know are very aware of Palestinian Christians.
    I have worked with some amazing Palestinian Christians as well as Christians from Israel and the rest of the Middle East.
    As for listening to anger of course I believe we have to listen to people. How else can we understand, empathise?
    “There is something about loving the sinner but not the sinner. It’s demeaning to the non-homicidal maniacs amongst us to be bracketted with suicide-terrorists, just as those claiming refugee status over the past few years often have been looking to use this country as a logistical base for their regional wars.”
    Ah yes the scandal of God’s love. I can feel a blog post coming on. Meanwhile consider Luke 15.
    By the way I am delighted that God loves me and you just as much as he loves Roshonara Choudhry because there is nothing have done or could do to earn his love so I rely on God’s prevenient grace.

    Reply
  13. Paul Martin

    Why this rubbish about Richard being a professional blogger? it is an insult to his servce as a Methodist minister. I repeat what I have staed elsewhere – the people whom Richard has seved in circuit regard him as a good minister. Endof matter!

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  14. methodist preacher

    Dave, its the “ministerial seesion of the Methodist Conference”. The report to which I referred was in a copy of the Methodist Recorder marked “Conference special”. Hardly tabloid journalism. Perhaps you should contact the Recorder and ask that in future they relable “conference special” “ministerial session special”
    Paul, I’m sure Richard is highly regarded. He goes to cubs so can’t be all bad. He runs an interesting blog into which he puts an amazing amount of time and energy. I don’t know where he gets the time from. I certainly can’t keep up with him.
    I do get the impression that he is given some sort of dispensation to develope his blog so I regard him as semi-official. He certainly seems to have some interesting nuances to his posts.
    Until last week I gave him the benefit of the doubt concerning his attitude to Jews. His endorsement of a report which inlcuded a Catholic Bishop saying the Jews have no right to Israel I take as being anti-Jewish (followed up the day after by an outrageous story about British Jews working with the EDL).
    If a blogger makes a comment supportive of the idea that Jews have no right in the Holy Land or that they are working for the EDL, I take that as an indication that the person in question is “anti-Jewish”.

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  15. Paul Martin

    The Catholic bishop argued against an exclusive right of Jews to the land. That was only one part of it anyway and was not mentioned in Richard’s post but could be found via link to Jerusalem Post. The point of the report was that Palestinians and Jews will have to find a way of sharing the land which fits in with the polcy of most countries including our own of supporting a two nation state – the Palestinian state being established on occupied teritories. Do you oppose this?
    The fact is as Methodism, christian Aid, TUC and Labour party have all recognised that the wellbeing of Palestinian and Jew alike our bound up with the wellbeing of the other. That was at the heart of what the Ctholic bishop was saying. It is also comonsense and just.
    Nothing anti Jewish there!

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  16. richard hall

    I thought my ears were burning! David, if you were giving me the benefit of the doubt tthere wsn’t much sign of it! I don’t know where this hostility comes from, but it can’t be good for you.
    I’m afraid my blog has no status that I’m aware of. But you knew that.

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  17. Dave

    David,
    ‘its the “ministerial seesion of the Methodist Conference”. The report to which I referred was in a copy of the Methodist Recorder marked “Conference special”. Hardly tabloid journalism. Perhaps you should contact the Recorder and ask that in future they relable “conference special” “ministerial session special”
    You may have got it right the first time and then every time after you try to stir things up by ignoring this inconvenient truth. for example in A very welcome and robust debate you claim he spoke to the Methodist Conference as if it were just before the vote. Instead it was nearly a week earlier to less than half the conference delegates in a session that, so far as I know, passed no resolutions about the issue.
    “Paul, I’m sure Richard is highly regarded.”
    Of course it is obvious you believe that from the way you write about him.
    “He goes to cubs so can’t be all bad.”
    Interesting that as a Methodist Local Preacher the only positive thing you can say about a Methodist Minister is that he goes to cubs. Very illuminating about you.
    “He runs an interesting blog”
    Interesting enough for you to attack him with untruths in every other post you write.
    ” into which he puts an amazing amount of time and energy. I don’t know where he gets the time from. I certainly can’t keep up with him.”
    Ah, so because you are less efficient, less focused, less able then Richard must be paid to do this and it must be detracting from his real work.
    “If a blogger makes a comment supportive of the idea that Jews have no right in the Holy Land or that they are working for the EDL, I take that as an indication that the person in question is “anti-Jewish”.”
    If that were the case then you could but of course it is not true and you know it as you contributed to the comments on that post including this one in which Richard says (my emphasis):

    I’m not trying to ‘establish a semantic link between pro-Israel support and support for the EDL’. I don’t believe any such thing! But look at the thread above: even as ‘Anti-Extremist’ is pointing out the falsehood of making a link between “Jews” (his/her word, not mine!) and the EDL, s/he can’t help pointing out that Siobhan Schwartzberg, who I quoted, writes for the Socialist Worker.
    Perhaps it was too roundabout an approach, but I’m simply trying to get away from who has shared a platform with who, who has had support from who and so on — so that we can examine ideas and arguments on their own merits.

    So yet again you are attacking Richard for views he did not express and even if he was too subtle initially that he subsequently made very clear and which you ignore.
    I completed a leadership assessment for someone recently. One of the sections had this:

    Do I communicate and rehearse my calling regularly? Do my needs or those of others govern my actions? Do I harbour a critical disposition because I covet the gifts and skills of others?

    Would you like me to complete this for you?

    Reply
  18. Paul Martin

    Here is the post re EDL. This matter has been commented on by Richard Bartholomew amongst other bloggers. There is no suggestion that support for Israel in any way goes along with support for the EDL. What I saw on reading it was the hypocrisy of the EDL a group that uses the sort of language re Muslims that their fascist forebears used re Jews. I also saw that loads of unsavoury types tuen up on differing sides in the Middle East conflict.
    I certainly rejoiced in the Jewish person who turned up to protest against the EDL. Indeed I am sure that he was representative of his community.
    So there is nothing anti Jewish in Richard’s posts. In fact over the years I have read Connexions I have sensed a sensitivity towards Jewish people albeit combined with a commitment to peace and justice in the Middle East. For these things Richard is to be commended.
    So let’s by all means have an exchange of views but let us bury the accusation of anti Judaism until such times as rather than it be a polemical weapon it is a deserved description. Such is not the case in the matter!

    Reply
  19. Alec

    The Catholic bishop argued against an exclusive right of Jews to the land.

    The sheer chutzpah of their denying one reading of the Scripture to admonish Jews which they then read to deny that LGBTs can express their sexuality! And this coming from men wearing dresses.
    Forget about taking 2,000 year old religious texts as verbatim truth when it suits, and as metaphor when it doesn’t… concentrate on the here and now.
    Non-Jews are not denied the franchize in Israel. The same cannot be said of Jews in Arab/Muslim-majority countries (or Christians, for that matter).

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  20. Dave

    Alec,
    Are you arguing that because Catholic Bishops wrongly deny LGBT people their freedom to express their sexuality they can therefore not be right about another issue?
    In other words if we get one thing wrong then we can never be right on anything else.
    That seems hard on humanity as it prevents everyone from saying anything at all as we are all wrong some of the time.
    Note that as should be obvious from what I say here I do not agree with the Catholic Church on issues of gender and sexuality.
    “Non-Jews are not denied the franchize in Israel. The same cannot be said of Jews in Arab/Muslim-majority countries (or Christians, for that matter).”
    Oh well everything is fine then. If non-Jews can vote then automatically there can be no injustice. (note sarcasm).
    Democracy is no guarantee of justice, consider our own countries track record on all kinds of issues from the treatment of asylum seekers (especially Children) going back to being the first country to use chemical warfare from planes (Churchill in what is now Iraq) there is a long long list.

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  21. Alec

    Richard, as I and others said to you on t’other thread, you placed this thought in the air so you should accept responsibility for how it’s interpreted. If you were not trying to establish a semantic link between support for the EDL and support for Israel, then there really was no point to that missive.
    Compare and contrast… your attempt to avoid criticism by claiming you merely were making an observation, and the actual links between those behind the motion at indaba and neo-Nazis, Holocaust Deniers, supporters of terrorism, antisemitic agitation and racists (as explained in the thread).

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  22. Alec

    Are you arguing that because Catholic Bishops wrongly deny LGBT people their freedom to express their sexuality they can therefore not be right about another issue?

    If they’re using Scripture as the basis for their argument, then yes. Yes, I question their motives.
    That’s not what was said. What was said was that Jews had exclusive rights to land, franchize and the rest. This is false.
    And, as Jews are explicitly disenfranchised in surrounding Arab countries, anyone claiming to be motivated out of genuine humanitarian motives should devote proportional attention to *that*. Not doing do would leave one open to the charge of being preoccupied with remonstrating with Jews.

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  23. Alec

    Sorry, some of my tags got messaed up there.

    Are you arguing that because Catholic Bishops wrongly deny LGBT people their freedom to express their sexuality they can therefore not be right about another issue?

    If they’re using Scripture as the basis for their argument, then yes. Yes, I question their motives.

    Oh well everything is fine then. If non-Jews can vote then automatically there can be no injustice.

    That’s not what was said. What was said was that Jews had exclusive rights to land, franchize and the rest. This is false.
    And, as Jews are explicitly disenfranchised in surrounding Arab countries, anyone claiming to be motivated out of genuine humanitarian motives should devote proportional attention to *that*. Not doing do would leave one open to the charge of being preoccupied with remonstrating with Jews.
    If peace would involve Jews having political control over Christians and Muslims, what’s the problem?

    going back to being the first country to use chemical warfare from planes (Churchill in what is now Iraq)

    Actually, this is false. Churchill was referring to tear gas to be used as a non-lethal tool against rioters. There was one British General in Iraq who sought mustard gas, but it wasn’t delivered.
    The first country to use chemical (and biological and radioactive) weaponry was aeroplanes was Japan in the 1930s.

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  24. Alec

    I am sorry you have lost me. I don’t get what you mean. People I know are very aware of Palestinian Christians.
    I have worked with some amazing Palestinian Christians as well as Christians from Israel and the rest of the Middle East.

    I appreciate that, in the circles you move in, you are more likely to know of Arab Christians. I was referring to the popular perception.

    As for listening to anger of course I believe we have to listen to people.

    But not simply because they’re of the same religion. “Arab/Muslim anger” isn’t half as loud over Darfur, leading to suspicion that this is about that constituency’s feeling towards Jews.

    How else can we understand, empathise?

    There’s listening critically, and there’s accepting anger as valid in itself. Plus, without similar sympathy for Israeli/Jewish misfortune, it becomes suspect. Sorry to band on about thing, but what do you think of the EAPPI missive I linked to?

    Ah yes the scandal of God’s love.

    It is when it (potentially) is used to reinforce a belief that the whole world is engaged in one big kumbaya, and requiring others to take the risks; such as 1,000 dead Israelis so we could feel good about insisting that the good in Arafat be seen. If the Real IRA ever kicked-off in Great Britain, I think we’ll see how quickly the previously safe British started acting like Israelis.
    Or the Pakistani jihadists engaged in plotting against British targets who were given asylum in the UK because they’d face the possibility of death in the regional war they had willingly embroiled themselves with. Nietzsche would have said the highest form of decadence is protecting those who’d do you harm.

    I can feel a blog post coming on. Meanwhile consider Luke 15.

    I always had great problems with that. First, my personal objections because of the way it was used against me when I reacted against the ill-behaviour of my siblings. Also the principled one in that the wayward son wasn’t merely given a bed and food, but the finest treatment which the loyal son had not received.

    By the way I am delighted that God loves me and you just as much as he loves Roshonara Choudhry because there is nothing have done or could do to earn his love so I rely on God’s prevenient grace.

    Which still can be demonstrated with her in gaol until the 2030s.

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  25. Methodist Preacher

    Dave you say:
    “Oh well everything is fine then. If non-Jews can vote then automatically there can be no injustice. (note sarcasm).”
    I think this gets to the heart of the issue about the State of Israel and the understanding of many Methodists including you.
    Israel has always been very jealous of its belief that all minorities should be full citizens. The Knesset is elected by an extreme form of proportional representation.
    At each election representatives of Arab political parties are elected to the Knesset. In order to form a government the main parties normally have to come to an understanding with these Arab politicians.
    I know you find it difficult to appreciate that I have some experience in this but for five years I was a member of a standing committee for relations with the Knesset.
    I have actually sat, discussed and ate with Arab members of the Israeli Knesset. They are no different from the politicians in our our councils and parliaments. They ask questions, they speak, they vote. They have full citizenship.
    Israel also has an active supreme court. There have been occasions when Arab citizens have taken the government or councils to that court and won. I am on the mailing lists of several Israeli civil rights organisations (and have been for years) so I am aware of the role of the rule of law across the territory of Israel.
    In 1994/5 I played a role in securing the funding from the EU that would underpin the creation of a Palestinian Authority. At the same time, privately, I was sending part of my tithe to support the work of a friend who had set up a youth club in a West Bank town.
    My belief then – and this was supported by the Israeli government – is that a stable Palestine was the surest guarantee of Israeli security. One of my little projects was to push for the training and funding of the Palestinian police force. I have seen this training at first hand.
    This was at the time of the Oslo accord. The aims and ambitions of the Oslo accord were absolutely mind blowing. There would be joint industrial zones, the creation of a highway from Cairo to Jerusalem and then onto Amman, Damascus and Baghdad and a binding security agreement.
    I had several discussions with Shimon Peres (it is really worth reading his autobiography “the Battle for Peace”) and other politicians. It was clear that we were visiting a functioning democracy.
    At the same time that I was working with the Knesset I was also on the joint parliamentary committee with Slovakia. When I visited Bratislava we were followed by Korvac’s thugs everywhere we went. My room was turned over by the secret service. Members of the opposition – many from the Hungarian speaking minority – feared for their safety. The President who had fallen out with Kovacs was isolated in a former monastery. His son had been kidnapped and beaten up. At that point it was obvious we were not visiting the institutions of a functioning democracy.
    In this debate within Methodism a great many people – including you – have taken a knee jerk reaction to Israel that just isn’t born out by the facts.
    Now that doesn’t mean there are not problems. You cannot sit down in meetings with Israeli and Palestinian politicians without being aware of the many issues.
    But it does us no credit when someone in your position believes they can make sarcastic comments about the rights of all Israeli citizens to vote.

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  26. Dave

    David,
    See my response on your own blog. You have responded to something quite different to what I said.
    The very best democracy cannot guarantee justice for all. You cannot ignore that many (not all) Palestinians do not believe they have justice. That was my point.

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  27. Alec

    Dave, I’m with David on this one. Your immediate expression of scorn is a common one in response to any attempt to present Israel as not being irrevocably tainted by original sin; and suggesting that my/his cohort believe that her founders were born of Immaculate Conception.
    It was all the more disappointing to see it coming from you.

    The very best democracy cannot guarantee justice for all. You cannot ignore that many (not all) Palestinians do not believe they have justice.

    It does not mean their implorations are 100% noble. If you are being non-partisan, you should place equal value on Israeli feelings of injustice and unfair treatment (cf. the EAPPI missive).
    Your inclusion of parentheses is potentially noteworthy. Arabs involved with groups such as OneVoice or Children of Peace also recognize the unfairness of the individual’s experience in the Territories… suggesting they don’t is in danger of accusing them of collaboration, which is why these organizations *have* faced.
    If one genuinely is committed to peace, surely the voices which encourage, well, peaceful co-operation and not a sufficiently beligerant attitude towards Israel? It’s so much easier to do this when these groups are guaranteed of the world’s love and to be rescued from the consequences of their poor decisions.

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  28. Dave

    Alec,
    Sorry but I disagree with all your points and will try to get back to them when I get a moment.
    To me your response appears to be another knee jerk reaction to any negative comment about Israel.
    I am pointing out that the (great though it may be) democracy has not solved all problems.
    In one sense I don’t have a problem with Israel not being perfect, but it seems impossible for any supporter of Israel to accept any criticism of Israel at all.
    It is the continual reaction of “how dare you criticise Israel” to trying to recognise that there are real issues that niggles me.
    In my opinion Palestinians have some entirely genuine problems with the Israeli government and the attempts to improve security for Israeli citizens have not been been just.
    I am continually stunned that pro-Israel supporters are surprised that the actions of the Israeli government have encouraged some Palestinians to become more extreme and resort to violence. I still think that violence is wrong but it cannot be a surprise.
    As for turning my qualifier of “(not all)” into an accusation against some Palestinian groups, please get a life. I was simply recognising that it would be wrong to lump all Palestinians together as if they were no longer individuals with a wide variety of views.
    To turn what I said into a claim I am encouraging belligerent attitudes towards Israel requires a whole new way of using English and a very short term memory of what I have said in the past.

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  29. Alec

    To me your response appears to be another knee jerk reaction to any negative comment about Israel.

    I suggested that I don’t believe Israel’s founders were born out of the Immaculate Conception, and in the Why Would thread specifically rejected the outlandish “Israel: Right or Wrong” comments.
    This is a counter-productive attitude. So is “Israel Always Wrong”.
    I was responding first and only to the assertion that Israeli policy is predicated on Jew’s having exclusive rights to the “Land”. It’s not.

    I am pointing out that the (great though it may be) democracy has not solved all problems.

    Something Churchill really did say was that democracy is a pretty imperfect system, but it’s the best we have.
    No modern state treats all its citizens with perfect equanimity, and Israel is under greater security threats than many but retains the framework for her citizens to perform advocacy on behalf of the non-Jews under her control.
    It’s the prurient curtain twitching, and attempts to hold Israel to a standard which our own countries never would be, which I object to.

    As for turning my qualifier of “(not all)” into an accusation against some Palestinian groups, please get a life.

    You’re right. This was pure conjecture on my part, intended to highlight how remarks can be interpreted to presume a reflexive view for or against one ‘side’ (rather as you have just read into mine an immediately defensive response to any criticism of Israel).
    All the same, Palestinian Arabs in the groups I mentioned do not believe the misfortune of individuals is merited.

    I was simply recognising that it would be wrong to lump all Palestinians together as if they were no longer individuals with a wide variety of views.

    Yet, those which consider the onus of responsibility to be fully on Israel are typically presented as the authentic voice. I have been saying that I dunno about your opinion but that this is a dominant view.
    I recognize the responsibility of my cohort to distance itself from unpalatable views held by the likes of the EDL, Ovadia Yusef or that Avraham Reiss. It would not be good enough for me to insist on my virtuous motives and expect others to give me the benefit of the doubt.
    This aint setting up barricades or dividing people into sides. It’s a recognition that this is a long and complex conflict, which remains not fully understood by people who have been living in the region for decades; and which cannot be reduced to dualistic right/wrong, or anti-Imperial notion of the malign power of the State against the virtuous individual.

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  30. Dave

    Alec,
    Ok much more comfortable with that.
    I don’t believe I or the Methodist Church are trying to hold Israel to a different standard to anyone else. But you would need to look at some of the other resolutions the Church has passed over the years (remembering that a lot of what we say does not get reported)

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  31. Alec

    Dave, I don’t believe you or the Church big cheeses are motivated out of political psychopathy (e.g. anti-Israel) or plain Jew-hatred. I cannot say the same about Stephen Leah: although I’d rank Nicola Jones’ comments as ill-conceived rather than deliberately malicious.
    Still, consider any upset you have felt from reading comments on blogs. Honestly, this cannot compare in the slightest to Jews when they see themselves, by dint of sympathy towards Israel, being compared to Nazis; or for open antisemites gaining national platform.
    This hatred is not a symptom of the conflict. It is the cause.
    Your Church has chosen this path. And I have detected an immediately defensive position… how dare you criticize my Church! (cf. how dare you criticize Israel!), not least from Karen Burke’s initial missive.
    One good start for seeking peace would be to gently but firmly campaign against the destructive belief in a “Right of Return” for Palestinian Arab ‘refugees’ which has no basis in law or precedent, not to mention an obsession about zoning violations in a regional conflict at the eastern end of the Mediterranean.

    Reply
  32. Dave

    Alec,
    the issues we are concerned about cannot be described as “not to mention an obsession about zoning violations in a regional conflict at the eastern end of the Mediterranean.”

    Reply
  33. Alec

    Ah, yes, I have been aware of the various coups in Fiji.

    It is not just pro-Israel supporters [...]

    All pro-Israel supporters, or some of them?

    [...] who don’t like Methodists.

    Now, now Dave. As far as I can see the main reason has been the Methodist Church’s opposition to Bainimarama’s power.
    The dislike you’ve seen of the Methodist Church in Britain has: a) come mainly from blogs (hardly a rational place in the first place); b) because of the Church’s conscious decision to take an overt position in a controversial foreign conflict freely chosen has chosen (if you expected the response only to be congratulations from the WCC; then, yes, I would question your commitment).
    On the other hand, your brethren and sistren in Fiji have been arrested and faced their civic rights being removed. It does not compare to negative comments on blogs.

    the issues we are concerned about cannot be described as “not to mention an obsession about zoning violations in a regional conflict at the eastern end of the Mediterranean.”

    You explicitly mentioned house demolitions and Settlements. They, and pretty much all other aspects of the conflict, are unremarkable in global terms (and, even, within the Middle East) and, viewed dispassionately, do not merit the constant attention. Chinese friends of mine just cannot fathom it.
    Any resolution to the conflict will involve negotiations and compromises – territorial and political – by both sides. This is not helped by an unyielding focus from individuals abroad who do not have to live with the consequences.

    Reply

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