Friday, 14 June 2013

C of S Double Standards

The Church of Scotland’s Israel bashing continued at the 2013 General Assembly. Despite being widely and angrily condemned by Jewish groups and the Israeli government as anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, the Church and Society Council report on Israel/Palestine titled "The Inheritance of Abraham? A Report on the ‘Promised Land,” was accepted by the General Assembly.

There was a lively debate about the theology and politics in the document, as well as about the friction the report caused between the Church of Scotland and the Jewish community. 

The Convener of the Church and Society Council Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, said:  “This is primarily a report highlighting the continued occupation by the state of Israel and the injustices faced by the Palestinian people as a consequence. It is not a report criticising the Jewish people. Opposing the unjust policies of the state of Israel cannot be equated to anti-Semitism..........The on-going conflict in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory has been an issue close to the heart of the Church of Scotland – we have a long relationship with the region and have many friends there......................The Church has kept on thinking about ways we can contribute to a just and peaceful solution.”

Meanwhile, the Church of Scotland........a supposed Christian organisation which claims the ‘Occupied Palestinian Territory is an issue close to the heart of the Church of Scotland’, has so far chosen to ignore the persecution of Palestinian Christians living in Gaza.

The Catholic Herald recently reported that five Church Schools are under threat in Gaza because of Hamas’s intention to extend its version of Islam throughout the territory. The writer of the Archbishop Cranmer blog has noted: “For some, this will be the first chill wind signalling what a Palestinian state dominated by Islamists will mean for Palestinian Christians. But such folk have missed warning signs going back many years.”

Back in 2005, the US State Department recorded abuse of Palestinian Christians by individuals and institutions, such as government and the police. The report noted:

“The PA judiciary failed to adjudicate numerous cases of seizures of Christian-owned land in the Bethlehem area by criminal gangs. There were credible reports that PA security forces and judicial officials colluded with gang members to extort property illegally from Christians. Several attacks against Christians in Bethlehem went unaddressed by the PA, but authorities investigated attacks against Muslims in the same area.”

Few attacks on Christians and their property by fellow Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza are reported by the Western media e.g. the kidnap and murder by Jihadists in Gaza of Bible  Society official Rami Ayyad ; the torching of the YMCA in the West Bank town of Qalqilya and church schools in Gaza.

Most information about the harassment and persecution of Palestinian Christians by other Palestinians comes from Israeli-Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh.  Risking his life, he reports on ‘corruption within the Palestinian Authority leadership, and the way in which Palestinian leaders talk peace for eager Western ears whilst inciting their citizens (in Arabic) to believe that their Jewish neighbour can be eliminated.’

He insists that the exodus of Christians from Palestine is not caused, as many including the Church of Scotland would have us believe, to the Israeli ‘occupation’, but to their increasing persecution at the hands of Muslim neighbours.

The writer of the Archbishop Cranmer blog notes further that: “One young Christian Palestinian woman – who had to flee her West Bank home because she dared to challenge the narrative that holds Israel responsible for all Palestinian woes – has spoken to audiences of all faiths and none in the UK and Europe about the unnecessary poverty and misery which years of mismanagement and corruption have brought to all Palestinians. She has also given accounts of the discrimination Palestinian Christians suffer at the hands of fellow Palestinians from both her own and her friends’ experience.

 At a recent meeting in the Midlands, she told how, earlier this year, a student was beaten up by his classmates in a classroom in front of a teacher, with no action taken against the perpetrators. His crime ? Refusing to give up his Christian faith and adopt Islam. She tells tales of the way in which she and other Christian students were sexually harassed by Muslim boys on their way to university because, unlike Muslim girls, they had to share public transport with the boys.”

I always thought that the church should stand for the truth and should always strive to protect the defenceless, particularly if they are people who stand for Christ ....after all that’s what the Bible teaches.

When will the Church of Scotland abandon its double standards, take a stand for truth and start supporting the real victims of persecution...... the Christians of the Palestinian Territories.

Let’s hope that more Scottish Christians will stand up to the untrue and unchristian Palestinian narrative being propagated by the Church of Scotland. Christians owe that to their persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ whom the Church of Scotland would appear to have chosen to ignore.  
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