Eretz Israel is our unforgettable historic homeland...The Jews who will it shall achieve their State...And whatever we attempt there for our own benefit will redound mightily and beneficially to the good of all mankind. (Theodor Herzl, DerJudenstaat, 1896)

We offer peace and amity to all the neighbouring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all. The State of Israel is ready to contribute its full share to the peaceful progress and development of the Middle East.
(From Proclamation of the State of Israel, 5 Iyar 5708; 14 May 1948)

With a liberal democratic political system operating under the rule of law, a flourishing market economy producing technological innovation to the benefit of the wider world, and a population as educated and cultured as anywhere in Europe or North America, Israel is a normal Western country with a right to be treated as such in the community of nations.... For the global jihad, Israel may be the first objective. But it will not be the last. (Friends of Israel Initiative)

Monday, 24 October 2016

"A Significant Kairos Moment": Stephen Sizer Breaks Cover

Our old chum the Anglican Vicar of Virginia Water must be counting the days to Easter Sunday next year.

That's when this seemingly unabashed defamer of Israel (how can we forget that outrageous 9/11 Facebook post of his, at left, or this exposé of his nonsense, or this and this?) and serial crusader against Christian Zionism relinquishes his parish and becomes free to indulge his political proclivities once more.

The signs are that having been more or less reined in by his bishop following that 9/11 obscenity he can hardly wait.

On 29 February this year the new charity with which our old chum will be centrally involved was registered/incorporated in London.

So far as I can tell, the vicar's name was absent from the formal documentation, Mrs Joanna Sizer (occupation recorded as 'administrator") being listed as one of the four directors, along with Garth Bruce Hewitt, (occupation recorded as "priest"), Michael Charles Lawson (occupation recorded as "composer and film maker"), and John Frank Salter (occupation recorded as "retired".)  Of the latter three, more below. The registered office address: 25 Gordon Road, Windsor, Berkshire, United Kingdom, SL4 3R.

 Called Peacemaker Mediators, its "Objects and Charitable Purposes" have been defined in the Articles of Association (click on the pdf.file at link) as:
The promotion of Human Rights (as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequent United Nations Conventions and Declarations) by
- educating the public about Human Rights
- raising awareness of Human Rights issues and abuses
- providing technical advice to governments and others on Human Rights
- eliminating infringement of Human Rights
- the promotion of conflict resolution and reconciliation by all appropriate means
- the advancement of the Christian faith particularly in countries where the Christian faith is a minority
- to assist Christian Churches to seek the welfare of their communities and especially those of other faiths
- to promote religious harmony and respect through interfaith dialogue and to reduce discrimination and conflict, especially between Muslims, Jews and Christians
- the advancement of citizenship and community development
On 21 April, on the Christ Church, Virginia Water  website, a truncated version of those officially registered "purposes" appeared:
Click this caption for more eyebrow raisers
 Peacemaker Mediators
 Posted on April 21, 2016 by Annette Ross
 Stephen asks for your prayers
 That the Charity Commissioners will grant charitable status in April.
  For a local launch combined with a Vicarage Garden Party on Saturday 18 June.
  For the national launch at Christ Church on Sunday 25th September.
  For the design of the logo and website.
  For the Patrons as they give leadership – The Most Revd Dr Mouneer Anis, (Primate of Jerusalem and the Middle East and Anglican Bishop of Egypt and North Africa). The Most Revd Henry Orombi, (Retired Primate of Uganda).
 For preliminary discussions with partner charities, mission agencies and Anglican Dioceses, especially in countries where the church is a minority (North Africa, Middle East & SE Asia).
Er, the rights of women and Christians in Saudi Arabia, vicar?
Charitable Purposes
The advancement of the Christian faith particularly in countries where the Christian faith is a minority.
To assist Christian Churches to seek the welfare of their communities and especially those of other faiths.
The promotion of religious harmony and respect through interfaith dialogue and to reduce discrimination and conflict, especially between Muslims, Jews and Christians.
The promotion of religious or racial harmony, equality and diversity.
The promotion of conflict resolution and reconciliation by all appropriate means.
The promotion of Human Rights (as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.)
 Over the past week or so Stephen Sizer has been letting his faithful know of his characteristically busy schedule.

And thus at the end of last week he came to that "significant Kairos moment":

And soon afterwards unveiled it, and his key connection with it, as "Founder and CEO". 

As well as extending an invitation (I'd love to be there as a fly on the wall, Your Reverence, but the trip's a tad too far):

 As will be seen, three of the four directors listed on those registration/incorporation documents of 29 February referred to above are now Trustees.

Let's remind ourselves who they are.

Garth Hewitt

Due to turn 70 later this year, he needs little introduction to students of the Israel-bashing movement within Christian circles.

Founder of the anti-Israel Amos Trust with which he's still associated, and credited with the leftward slant of the Greenbelt Festival, of which he was for many years an executive member, this "troubadour" and author of Occupied Territories: the revolution of love from Bethlehem to the ends of the earth (2014)  is a patron of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.  In 2007 he received an award from the controversial body Interpal for his "longstanding commitment to the Palestinian people through both the relief and awareness work done by his charity, the Amos Trust, and also for his personal commitment through songs and telling the stories of ordinary Palestinians and their daily struggles". Formerly guild vicar of All Hallows on the Wall in the City of London,  he's an associate priest at St Clement’s Eastcheap, and an honorary canon of St George’s Cathedral, Jerusalem, as well as a regular contributor to BBC Radio 2’s slot Pause for Thought.

Further information is available on his website here.

In 2012 Garth Hewitt defended Stephen Sizer against allegations of antisemitism, in a letter to Sizer's diocesan boss, the then Bishop of Guildford, Christopher Hill; here's some of it: 
2012; ready to renounce that vile slur, Rev Sizer?
 "....  I am afraid these sort of charges are being levelled at people in order to silence them, and we have seen similar things happen to President Jimmy Carter, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and particularly Judge Richard Goldstone who chaired the report on Gaza - he suffered particularly unpleasant attacks.
I have known Stephen since he was at University, and took him on his first visit to the Holy Land when we were both on the staff of St Saviour's in Guildford. Since then as you know he has become recognised as an expert on Christian pilgrimage in the Holy Land and also Christian Zionism. Stephen's motivation is working for peace and strangely those who are truly dedicated to a peace for both communities .... But I believe, as do so many others who are working in this area, that peace cannot come if we ignore what is happening on the ground. So the latest UN report on Israel from the UN Human Rights Panel has caused Israel to sever ties with it and yet it is a call to address human rights, international law, and the Fourth Geneva Convention, particularly as it relates to the impact of settlements on the West Bank. In other words it is an attempt to call for a way forward that would bring equality and dignity to both communities....
In the end Stephen is a gentle but firm peacemaker, who lives out the Biblical mandate that all are made in the image of God, and I have never in anything he has done seen a hint of anti-Semitism. He has worked with Jewish peace activists ..."
 (This episode predated the 9/11 post of 20 January 2015, of course)

Hewitt's songs to be featured at the launch of Peacemaker Mediators can be sampled below:

(Incidentally, as seen here, the Amos Trust's Annual Bethlehem Carol Service featuring Garth Hewitt among others, is scheduled for 28 November this year at St James's Piccadilly, when the theme will be "Women of Palestine.)

Michael Lawson

Despite his occupation on the official documentation appearing as "composer and film maker" (which indeed he is) he too is a man of the cloth.  Or, rather, a retired one.  Now 64, he's the Venerable Michael Lawson, Archdeacon Emeritus of Hampstead, Chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC).

In an interview in 2009 he said:
'“I grew up an agnostic Jew.... But I felt drawn again to that part of my heritage when I start learning and playing music.”
Michael started playing the piano when he was 11. By the age of 12 he was grade 8, by 14 he played his first recital on the BBC. He went on to train as a composer and conductor, in London and in France . At university, aged 22, he met a group of Christians, and life changed.
....Such was the power of Michael’s conversion, that six months later his mother had converted. Six months after her, his father also announced he’d become Christian after Michael gave him Oliver Barclay’s Reason for Faith, and his sister too became a Methodist preacher....'
Here's part of what he wrote to the former Bishop of Guildford and another bishop in 2012, absolving our old chum of accusations of antisemitism.
"I was born into an orthodox Jewish home (my original family name is Levi,) and all through my childhood and teenage years was made conscious of the evils of the holocaust and of anti-Semitism. On my mother’s side many of our (Polish) family from Lodz perished in Auschwitz, and I grew up with, and have retained, an abhorrence of all anti Jewish attitudes and action. When I became a Christian at Sussex University, I did not throw off my Jewish identity and values at all, but rather absorbed my heritage into my new Christian commitment. Perhaps this is why today I have so many Jewish friends, and for these reasons of friendship and promoting understanding of Jewish Christian relations of I was made an honorary life member of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain in 2002....
 May I say I don’t agree at all with everything Stephen Sizer writes. We approach things in a different way, though both of us are very concerned for the rights of Palestinians. Nonetheless, I have not read any statement in any of his books, articles, or teaching or any other place where Stephen could ever be said to be anti-Semitic. Pre-programmed as I am from my upbringing and its unquenched flow into my present convictions, I would pick up any nuance of this kind like a shot, and I would have done so at any point over the forty years we have been friends. He simply is not ant-Semitic and it is very wrong indeed to suggest that he is so....
 I can assure you that if there were even a whiff of ant-Semitism about him, our friendship would have ended years ago." 
A friend indeed.

John Salter

Of 79-year-old Canon Salter, president of the Garden Tomb Association, we read here:
"John is a Kentish man – born and brought up in Sevenoaks. He worked in insurance and did national service in the RAF before attending university and ordination as priest. John then worked for Inter Varsity Fellowship (now UCCF) in universities, before spending over 32 years as vicar of Emmanuel Church, Guildford, Surrey. His focus now is on preaching, teaching, evangelism and training people for ministry. John and his wife, Bridget first visited Israel in 1963 – since when they have visited frequently and led many pilgrimage groups there..."
Early in 2013 he assured the then Bishop of Guildford that Stephen Sizer is not antisemitic.  Inter alia:
"Until recently I had thought (quite wrongly it seems) that the unjust accusations of anti-Semitism made against Stephen Sizer had run their course, that the saga had come to an end with the judgement by Surrey Police that there is no case to answer and that Stephen himself had been exonerated.
I discover, however, that the matter is still being pursued by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and that a formal complaint has been made under the Clergy Discipline Measure. I fully accept (as Stephen himself does) that it was an error of judgement on his part to quote from a website which, unbeknown to him, also contained anti-semitic material. This is something which he himself corrected and for which he apologised, but to accuse him of “spending time trawling dark and extreme corners of the internet in order to re-publish items to support the target of his polemical writing” is nothing other than a defamation of his character.... 
I sincerely hope that this whole issue can be dealt with speedily and that the Board of Deputies can also accept that their charges are unjustified."
Now for the Patrons 

Mouneer Anis 

A qualified physician, the Most Revd Dr Mouneer Anis has been Bishop of Egypt since 2000 and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East since 2007.   More here

Why, look y'all, I do believe there's a bit of a pattern developing!

Henry Orombi

The Most Revd Henry Orombi served as Archbishop of Uganda and Bishop of Kampala from 2004 until his retirement in December 2012.  More here

And now for those members of the International Board of Reference whose names have been so far given:

Riah Abu El Amal 

A native of Nazareth, about to turn 79, he served as vicar of Christ Church there and from 1998 until his retirement in 2007 was Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem and head of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem.   More here

We read inter alia  in an anti-Israel propaganda piece  by British journalist Anne Gwynne here
'From 1986 to 1990, Bishop Riah was subjected to one of the longest travel bans in Israeli history, during which time he also was banned by the U.S. State Department. The reason? He had dared to meet with the late Yasser Arafat, and thus was regarded as a threat to the security of Israel. More recently, it was Bishop Riah who first gave sanctuary in St. George’s Anglican Church to nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu upon the latter’s release from prison. Since then armed Israeli soldiers have invaded the Bishop’s church in East Jerusalem several times....
“We are prepared to share this land with the others,” Bishop Riah emphasized. It is the Jews, he insisted, who are not prepared to share...'.
Here's a manifestation of that pattern again:
"I write to you today in regard to the unwarranted and groundless attacks on the good name of one of your committed and faithful priests, the Rev. Dr. Stephen Sizer, who has powerfully and consistently raised awareness of the plight of our fellow Palestinian and Israeli brothers and sisters, as have many others. He continues to remind us of our Christian duty, to uphold Human Rights, a vital step if, Israel and Palestine are to take committed steps towards a lasting peace....
2014; for shame, vicar, for shame.
It is right for democratic and public debate to bring to light and criticize Israel's politics which daily violate the basic rights of all Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. It is equally right to speak of Palestinian breaches of international law.
You've seen it now, Bishop Riah!
I have known Stephen for over thirty years. I know him as a man of integrity and forthright views with the courage to express those views. He has always been measured , and his message is, and has been, one of Christian faith and the love of truth. His books and his articles are suffused  with objective discipline. There is nothing in them, or him, that could be remotely construed as anti-Jewish, anti-Jew, anti-Semite or even anti Israel as a state...." [Emphasis added; see screenshot above!]
Richard Bewes

Rev. Bewes has a potted biography on the website of Christ Church, Virginia Water (Sizer's church), whose team Bewes, a distinguished evangelical,  joined in 2014.  Born in Kenya in 1934 to Christian missionaries, he was educated at Marlborough School and Emmanuel College Cambridge, qualifying for ordination at Ridley Hall Theological College.  From 1983 until 2004 he was Rector of All Souls, Langham Place, in London's West End, and was awarded the OBE in 2005.  He blogs here

Michael Butterworth is a former academic registrar of Oak Hill Theological College, London.

Canon Dr Butterworth is yet another of those who in 2012 wrote to the then Bishop of Guildford in Sizer's defence:
".... I was his supervisor when he began his research into Christian Zionism for a degree with Middlesex University (beginning as a Master’s Degree and transferring to a Doctorate, as required by the University’s regulations) via Oak Hill College. When I left Oak Hill in 1997, Stephen was supervised by Martin Davie and then Alan Storkey, both of whom are excellent scholars and well aware of the need to avoid anti-Semitism. I have kept in touch with Stephen since that time and have read a good deal of what he has written.
At no time has he shown any signs of anti-Semitism ..."
Gary Burge

Gary M. Burge is an ordained Presbyterian and professor of New Testament at Wheaton College, Illinois, where, if my memory serves me correctly, our old chum spoke a few years ago.  A prominent "supersessionist" or "replacement theologian," Burge has authored Whose Land, Whose Promise: What Christians Aren't Being Told About Israel and the Palestinians (2003, revised ed. 2013) and Jesus and the Land: The New Testament Challenge to Holy Land Theology (2010).  There is a devastating critique of his standpoint here  His website is here.

In 2012 he defended Sizer to the then Bishop of Guildford against perceptions of antisemitism.

 Oh, and ugh, so did that ex-pat Israeli (and One Stater) directly above!

Issa Chaer

Dr Chaer is a Syrian-born London-based academic.

In several videos online he talks about what IS has done to his homeland.

John Gladwin

Now 74, he was Bishop of Guildford from 1994-2004 and of Chelmsford from 2004-9.  He is involved with Christian Aid, which has been accused of bias against Israel (see, for example, NGO Monitor here)   In 2012 Gladwin wrote to his immediate successor at Guildford, Christopher Hill:

 For his hostility towards Israel see  Hal Colebatch, writing in 2006 (extract from full article here): 
'With impeccable timing, the British Anglican General Synod the Anglican Church's highest governing body has voted for a campaign of economic attacks on Israel just as Hamas is settling into power. The General Synod resolved to disinvest in "all companies profiting from the illegal occupation." Singled out is Caterpillar tractors, whose machinery has been used to build Israel's security wall and to level buildings suspected of being used by terrorists. (It apparently escaped the General Synod's notice that Caterpillar machinery is also used by the Palestinians.)  The Church Commissioners hold about $3.65 million in Caterpillar.
 The subtext behind this is that it is illegitimate for Israelis or, let us be frank, Jews to try to defend themselves from terrorism. Dr. Irene Lancaster, of the Centre for Jewish Studies at Manchester University, said the vote marked "a very black day for Anglo-Jewish relations... The writing is on the wall for the Jews of Great Britain, 350 years after they settled here."  Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey, normally the most gentle and diplomatic of men, told the Jerusalem Post that the vote made him "ashamed to be an Anglican." Lord Carey previously warned that such a policy would "disastrous" for peace efforts in the region. He said Israelis already felt traumatized by attacks on them and this would be "another knife in the back." The chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews, the Rt. Rev. Christopher Herbert, Bishop of St. Albans, also attacked the vote as "unbalanced."
 A counter-motion by pro-Israeli Anglicans was not allowed to be put. The present Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, supported the vote, but the second most senior Archbishop, John Sentamu of York, abstained. Bewilderingly, Williams then apologized to the British Chief Rabbi, regretting the vote which he had supported as "specially unfortunate... at a time when, as we are well aware, anti-Semitism in a growing menace and the State of Israel faces some very particular challenges." That, I suppose, is Anglicanism for you.  The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Rev. John Gladwin, said Christians in Palestine were in despair. Although recent reports have indicated a high level of Muslim persecution of Christians in Israel, Bishop Gladwin blamed the Israeli government for their plight.... [Emphasis added]'   And see also  here

[Keep scrolling!  Blogger gremlin here!]

Mary Grey

She is a retired professor at the University of Lampeter in Wales.  A Catholic feminist and a liberation theologian, she is one of the stalwarts of The Balfour Project, set up by Sizer and cohorts some years ago in preparation for the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration in 2017.

Busy in the cause, she has written several articles for the Balfour Project's website.

And she has put her name to several anti-Israel online petitions.

And she wrote to Sizer's bishop in 2012 in his defence against allegations of antisemitism.

Incidentally, Sizer's ally Jeremy Moodey, CEO of Embrace the Middle East, reviews a book here in which he tells us almost as much about his own warped view of Zionism as of Mary Grey's lack of sympathy with the cause.  (I wonder whether Mr Moodey has been or will be co-opted onto the new organistaion's International Board.)

Stephen Hofmeyr

A Queen's Counsel and practising Anglican, Mr Hofmeyr in the latter capacity has been involved in the work of the Guildford diocese. He has written: "My formative years were spent in apartheid South Africa, culminating in active involvement in student politics and two years as a conscientious objector to military service."

Michael Langrish

He was Bishop of Exeter from 2000 until 2013, when he retired aged 67.

patron of Embrace the Middle East,  he was from the start of his tenure at Exeter openly critical of Israel.

In 2002 he authored a Briefing Paper published by the notoriously anti-Israel Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding. 

With two other prelates, in 2007 he wrote to Britain's then prime minister Gordon Brown accusing Israel of undermining the chance of a future Palestinian state.
'The Bishops of Exeter, Winchester and Coventry believe only a two-state solution will create peace.
But they said that this would soon become impossible unless international pressure was placed on Israel. 
The bishops singled out what they called the "segregation wall", telling Mr Brown he would be horrified to see how it cut Palestinians off from farmland and water supplies.
The Israeli government says the West Bank barrier is a security measure to stop suicide bombers. 
Critics say the structure is part of an effort to annex occupied land and it has been declared illegal by the international Court of Justice.
They argued that the barrier should not be allowed to become Israel's new border because it would constitute the expansion of Israeli territory by force. 
Bishop Langrish told the BBC News website that they were not intending to embarrass the prime minister by releasing the letter.
He said they thought it was important to get a response before the forthcoming peace conference. 
"We all have a long-standing engagement with the Middle East and we are often asked about our government's real position on the issue given he had made some interesting speeches," he said.
"We were asking him to clarify the approach of the government in this area."
The bishops claimed that the alternatives to a two-state solution were a mass movement of population or some form of apartheid, both unacceptable. 
Meanwhile, they said, the possibility of any independent Palestinian state being viable would shortly disappear....'
In December 2014, with a comprehensive briefing by Moodey's prejudiced outfit (formerly Biblelands), he moved a debate in the House of Lords: "That this House takes note of the issues of equality and discrimination affecting Israel's Arab citizens". An extract:
"My Lords, we each come to debates such as this with our own personal stories. Mine begins with my father who served with the British Mandate force, and I grew up with his memories and photographs, and a strong sense of the historical and moral responsibility that the UK still carries for where Israelis and Palestinians find themselves today. More directly, I have visited the area regularly for the past 35 years, as a one-time trustee of Christian Aid, as a patron of a range of Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations and also of BibleLands - now Embrace the Middle East. Additionally, my diocese has a companion link with the Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East....
Some have suggested that this debate should not be taking place as it colludes with hostility towards Israel rather than offering it a hand of friendship. Nothing could be further from the truth. A peaceful and prosperous Middle East needs a strong and secure Israel. However, threats to Israel's security come not only from without but also from within. Increased discrimination so easily leads to radicalisation of those discriminated against, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Frustration fermenting beneath the surface could yet bubble over into societal conflict. Should current trends continue unabated, localised intercommunal violence should come as no surprise. 
..... Rehumanising the "other" within Israel might encourage a reframing of the way that Israel negotiates with its Arab neighbours.....
At the heart of this Motion is an understanding of human dignity and well-being. I am sure that all would agree that inequality and discrimination impair human dignity and flourishing. So I note with pleasure the strong interest shown by Her Majesty's ambassador to Israel in supporting Israel's minorities. Speaking at the Israeli Equal Opportunities Commission's 2011 conference, Ambassador Matthew Gould said "Israel enjoys the most extraordinary diversity in its population" and that the "diversity of Israel's population is something that should be celebrated".
 However, if that diversity is allowed to lead to increasing division, then the fabric of Israel's society could be fatally damaged. For that to be avoided, the UK and the EU need to continue to press Israeli Governments for the realisation of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, in which Jews and Arabs live together with full and equal human dignity and civil rights. Ultimately this is a question about the character of the Israeli state, the answer to which must have buy-in from all the communities of which it is composed."
(More,inter alia, here)

Bill Musk

He is Bishop of the Episcopal or Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa.  One of four dioceses in the Episcopal or Anglican Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, it includes Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Somalia. (See here)

Azad Marshall 

He was born in Pakistan and since 2007 has been  Bishop of the Anglican Church in the Islamic Republic of Iran, a diocese of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East in the Anglican Communion. In 2009 he became in addition Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Cyprus and the Gulf for Urdu-speaking Congregations. He  founded the Prince of Peace Library and Center to improve relations between  the Christian and Muslim communities of Shanti Nagar, Pakistan.

In 2007, asked "What is the role of the Church in the Middle-East Peace Process?" he replied:
"The Church is often caught in the cross fire. The Church cannot be for one or for the other side. It is for Jesus, the prince of peace. So the church is to be a bridge, bringing the communities together.
Iran has often been demonized. The media often give negative representations of Iran. But Iran is no different from many other Islamic countries where human rights violations are much more blatant. There are for instance Muslim countries where women are not even allowed to drive, whereas you can see many women drivers in Tehran. Women are very visible in all walks of life and seventy per cent of the university students are female.
The media tend to pick and choose. Western vested interests play a great role.  When people demonise Iran, they do not look at the wider picture. They compare Iran with countries where vested interests want to maintain good relations. So they fail to raise the very proper questions which should be asked. My hope is that the Church will play a role in balancing this picture. .
We cannot always be harping on what happened almost thirty years ago. We must concentrate on the opportunity to build relationships with a population of 76 million, half of whom were born after the [1979 Khomeini] Revolution. We must demonstrate our great commitment and desire to build a relationship in dialogue and peace."
Chawkat Moucarry

Born in Aleppo, to a Christian family, he has a master's degree in Christian theology and a doctorate in Islamic Studies from the Sorbonne.  He amoved to the UK in 1994, teaching  Islamic and Middle-Eastern Studies at All Nations Christian College. In 2006 he joined World Vision International as director of interfaith relations. His publications include Faith to Faith: Christianity and Islam in Dialogue (2001) and The Prophet & the Messiah: An Arab Christian’s Perspective on Islam & Christianity (2002).  (See here and here)

The following, cut and pasted (though only in part, for it is long) from Facebook here, is instructive of his attitude:

"Israel or Palestine" by Chawkat Moucarry
July 22, 2014 at 7:16pm
The following is an excerpt from the wonderful book, "The Prophet and The Messiah" by Chawkat Moucarry, a Syrian Christian. This is a necessary Christian, biblical, and historical message that is especially relevant in these troubled times. My dear evangelical brethren really need to read this!
Most European countries gave unconditional support to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Many Christians, especially evangelicals, continue to give it their backing, claiming that it fulfills biblical prophecies. But is such an endorsement necessarily the right attitude? Is it consistent with God’s purpose for the land? And is it compatible with God’s justice? Christians cannot escape the questions presented to them by the conflict in the Middle East.
 ... The theological debate about the land of Israel begins with the promise God made to Abraham:
“Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you. I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse whoever curses you. And all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” [Genesis 12:1-3]
This promise is seen by many Zionist Jews and a number of evangelical Christians as the biblical foundation for the eternal right of the Jewish people to have a nation in Palestine. But this is not the only way to understand this promise and its fulfillment....
[T]he State of Israel was established mainly by European Jews at the expense of native Palestinians, many of whom have been disposed of their own lands and made refugees in neighboring countries....
The present-day State of Israel, therefore, has no theological significance. If anything, Israel is no better or worse than any other nation. Its recent history demonstrates that it is far from God’s moral standards....
The establishment of Israel on Arab land was an immense injustice. It was bound to create human tragedy for the historical inhabitants of the land. Indeed, it deprived the Palestinian people of their homeland and forced many into refugee camps.This sense of injustice was deeply felt by Arab peoples throughout the world. Many Palestinians were plunged into despair, especially after Arab governments failed to achieve what they had promised them: to bring them back to their homeland. Palestinian refugees decided to take their destiny into their own hands: the “Palestinian Liberation Organization” (PLO) was born. Although some resorted to terrorism when the world seemed indifferent to their plight, Israel seemed invincible. In June 1967 it conquered new Arab territories, and, as a result, the problems faced by an Arab population living under Israeli occupation increased. The 1980’s witnessed the intifada (uprising) of the Palestinian youth in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.... Those who for years had considered themselves to be the oppressed were becoming the oppressors.... Israel was becoming a country of apartheid....'
 And so on and so on.

Clare Short

She surely needs no introduction to British readers.  The leftwing Labour politician who was MP for Birmingham Ladywood from 1983-2010 and once served as  International Development Secretary is yet another member of Sizer's new organisation who defended him from those allegations of antisemitism in 2012.

To quote her Wikipedia entry (which supplies endnotes for its statements):

'Short has condemned Israel as being guilty of "bloody, brutal and systematic annexation of land, destruction of homes and the deliberate creation of an apartheid system." She has also stated that "the EU and Britain are colluding in this operation and the building of a new apartheid regime" because they give Israel privileged trade access. Short has expressed support for a boycott of Israel, stating at the 2007 United Nations International Conference of Civil Society in Support of Israeli-Palestinian Peace that "The boycott worked for South Africa, it is time to do it again".  She also told the conference that Israel is "much worse than the original apartheid state" and that Israel "undermines the international community's reaction to global warming".  Regarding the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, Short stated that "Israel is out of control and our Government and the US is giving them a green light to continue" and that "Britain clearly now just backs President (George W.) Bush in whatever he does, in automatically backing Israel in breaching international law, in disproportionate attacks on Lebanon and attacks on Gaza".'
Chris Sugden

Canon Dr Sugden is executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream (founded in 2004), a network of evangelical and orthodox networks in the United Kingdom, which is part of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (FCA) and Global Anglican Future (GAFCON).  He is the author of Seeking the Asian Face of Jesus (1997). In 1983, following six years in India, He and his wife were part of the team that established the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. An honorary canon of St Luke's Cathedral, Jos, Nigeria, he has also served as chairman of the trustees of Traidcraft. (Source here)

Traidcraft and Palestine?   See here and here

There are several points to be raised about Peacemaker Mediators.

 Its aims, when all is said and done, seem vague.  And its existence, on the face of it, preposterous.

Who is funding it, and will it make public its donors (for instance, in the initial annual report that is due, it appears, by 28 February 2017?)

In what way is it equipped to "mediate" in international disputes?  What is its locus standi?  Is it planning to usurp the role of governments and their diplomats and negotiators?  What can it do that such persons cannot?  What authority does it expect to wield?

Does it intend to turn its attention to any part of the world in which relations between communities are fraught or borders in dispute?  Will it look at the Kashmir question? The South China Sea controversy?  Will it turn its attention to China/Tibet, Russia/Ukraine, Burma, Sri Lanka ...?

Will it be challenging, without fear or favour, the totalitarian nature of many Islamic societies, including Iran and Saudi Arabia?  Will it be challenging the ayatollahs, mullahs and imams over the oppression of women that belongs to the Dark Ages?  Over the horrible precept that views infidel females as the booty of war, to be used and abused as sex slaves?  Over the death penalty for apostates from Islam?  Over the practice of hanging homosexuals or throwing them off tall buildings?  Over judicial whippings, stonings and beheadings?

Given the fact that its CEO has paid several visits to Teheran as well as to the studios of Press TV, the Iranian regimes's propaganda satellite channel, will it be demanding an end to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's penchant for raping virgins awaiting capital punishment to make them eligible for execution of the sentence?

Will it be condemning and seeking an end to the vile antisemitism that characterises much Islamic rhetoric about Jews and Israel, including the genocidal Hamas covenant?  Will its CEO still accept invitations to talk against Israel and Zionism on Press TV?  Will he address any more Al Quds Day rallies in London, those ghastly occasions where demonisation of the Zionist Entity overflows?

Is it likely to embrace one-sided ends, excoriating Israel and demanding concessions from Israel while asking nothing of  the Palestinian Arabs?  (For Professor MacEoin's magnificent articles on the Christian demonisers of Israel and their consequent infantilising of Palestinians see here and here and here, by the way)

Given its CEO's past performance, and the presence of so many persons with form regarding Israel/Palestine among its leading personnel, will it be anything other than, in essence, another anti-Israel activist group?

I notice, by the way, that among the persons who wrote testimonials on behalf of Stephen Sizer in 2012 was none other than Anthony (Tony) Gratrex.  His missive to "Bishop Christopher" went, inter alia:
"I am a retired aerospace engineer and now live in Bracknell, Berkshire. In the late 1960's I lived close to Dachau whilst working in Munich. This gave me the opportunity to visit the concentration camp there many times. Each time I visited the camp I would aways ask myself the same question; what were the Christian Church leaders in Germany doing at this time? The answer was, keeping their heads down most of the time. Then I found out there were some few like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who didn't. In the early 1980s I was living and working in Israel. It was only then that I became aware of the history of what happened to the Palestinians.I left Israel to live and work in several other countries.
When I eventually arrived to live in Bracknell I joined a church. I would ask the Church leadership, especially at Christmas time what they were doing to make the people aware of the situation in present day Bethlehem. They kept their heads down, so I left that church and joined another and the same thing happened.Then I heard about Stephen Sizer so joined Christ Church, about 6 years ago. I have met Stephen many times on an individual basis and talked a great deal about the Israel/Palestine situation. In all these meetings I can say that he has never said anything that is anti-Semitic....
For me Stephen Sizer is another Dietrich Bonhoeffer, but I pray there will be a better outcome.
Oh! the ironies of history."
Oh, the irony that Mr Gratrex, long a stalwart of the Reading PSC, should have written such a letter.  See, for instance, here and here and here

Mr Gratrex's Facebook wall contains many heinous links and posts.  I believe (and this is not the first time I've said so) that Stephen Sizer should de-friend him.  Below, for example, is one of the most recent excrescences:

Surely he will not be appointed to the Peacemaker Mediators' International Board!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

David Singer: Clinton and Trump clash on defeating Islamic State in Syria

Here is the latest article by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer.

He writes:

The presidential debates have signalled fundamental policy differences between Clinton and Trump on defeating Islamic State in Syria [ISIS].

Clinton will be pursuing policies that prolong Islamic State’s existence in Syria – until Mosul has been conquered in Iraq. Trump wants to defeat Islamic State in Syria as an immediate priority.

Clinton laid out her policies during the third debate:
1. “The goal here is to take back Mosul. It's going to be a hard fight. I've got no illusions about that. And then continue to press into Syria to begin to take back and move on Raqqa, which is the ISIS headquarters.”
Conquering Mosul is going to take months to achieve – not to mention what Turkey might do if Mosul looks like falling in the current fighting.

Pressing into Syria to conquer Raqqa after Mosul’s fall would have to be undertaken without Syrian or United Nations Security Council approval – political insanity of the highest order that would certainly embroil the invading forces in conflict with Russia and Syria.
2. “So I have said, look, we need to keep our eye on ISIS. That's why I want to have an intelligence surge that protects us here at home, why we have to go after them from the air, on the ground, online, why we have to make sure here at home we don't let terrorists buy weapons. If you're too dangerous to fly, you're too dangerous to buy a gun."
Great policies  –  if implemented in co-operation with Russia – but could result in a dangerous escalation in Syria with both Russia and Iran if undertaken unilaterally.
3. “And I'm going to continue to push for a no-fly zone and safe havens within Syria not only to help protect the Syrians and prevent the constant outflow of refugees, but to, frankly, gain some leverage on both the Syrian government and the Russians so that perhaps we can have the kind of serious negotiation necessary to bring the conflict to an end and go forward on a political track.”
Clinton is whistling in the wind if she believes these policies can place any leverage on Syria and the Russians whilst she is unilaterally trying to conquer Raqqa.

She herself acknowledged in the third debate that the establishment of a no fly-zone:
… “would not be done just on the first day. This would take a lot of negotiation. And it would also take making it clear to the Russians and the Syrians that our purpose here was to provide safe zones on the ground.”
Presumably Syria would continue to burn whilst President Clinton negotiated with President Putin.

Trump has taken an entirely different tack:

1. He recognised the current problem:
“… our country is so outplayed by Putin and Assad, and by the way –  and by Iran. Nobody can believe how stupid our leadership is.”
2. He identified America’s present precarious position as a result:
“he [Assad] has aligned with Russia and with Iran. They don't want ISIS, but they have other things, because we're backing  – we're backing rebels. We don't know who the rebels are. We're giving them lots of money, lots of everything. We don't know who the rebels are”
3. He enunciated his policy in the second presidential debate:
“ I believe we have to get ISIS. We have to worry about ISIS before we can get too much more involved. “
4. He had previously made clear the way forward:
"Wouldn't it be nice if we got together with Russia and knocked the hell out of ISIS?"
Voters have a stark choice come election day.

Friday, 21 October 2016

"The Basic Goal of Islam is to Conquer Territory or Win Converts ... Is it Not Time for Western Leaders to Get a Grip for Once?" (video)

The marvellous Professor Dennis McEoin tells some home truths about Jihadist goals, whether regarding Israel or any other part of the non-Muslim world (Gatestone Institute video):

 In this recent video for Prager University, Ayaan Hirsi Ali insists that for all our sakes the West should support Muslim dissidents just as it supported Soviet dissidents during the Cold War:

Clinton's Coffers

Yes, the choice is pretty abysmal, but would you vote for this woman?

From a major report:

Read all about it (with further links) here

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Lentin's Loathsome "Elegaic J'Accuse"

Born into a Christian family in Lebanon, Professor Ghassan Hage of Melbourne, whom we've met before on this blog in connection with his petition against Israel of a few years ago, co-written with Sydney academic John Docker, and his on-going pro-BDS stance, is highly critical of white colonial settlement in countries such as Australia, which appears to inform his attitude to Israel.

Sometimes his indictment of white colonial settlement can appear so harsh as to give the impression, rightly or wrongly, of reverse racism.

See, for instance, this poetic contribution of his on social media:

Born in Haifa in 1944, Associate Professor Ronit Lentin of Dublin is one of a number of Israel-hating  academics  from Eretz/Medinat Israel resident in Britain and Ireland.  Her name appears here as one of the endorsers of "The One State Declaration" of 2007 authored by Ilan Pappe and others, which if implemented would end Israel's existence, and her anti-Israel activism is well-known.

Ghassan Hage's poem (what she calls his 'elegaic J'Accuse') has inspired her to write one of her own, adapted from "white colonial Australia to Palestine," as she puts it:

We stole the lands of another people but that's not who we are we are better than this.
We expelled 800,000 of the owners of the land, renamed their villages and settled our own people in them but that's not who we are we are better than this.
We uprooted their trees and planted European conifers to cover the ruins of their depopulated villages, which they are not allowed to settle but that's not who we are we are better than this.
We massacred whole villages, tortured their men, raped their women and beat their children but that's not who we are we are better than this.
We bombed their cities, demolished their homes and built concrete walls to separate them from each other but that's not who we are we are better than this.
We installed hundreds of checkpoints preventing the owners of the land from getting to hospital to give birth or get treatment but that's not who we are we are better than this.
We started war after war outside the non-declared borders of our state, leaving hundred of thousands homeless, claiming self defence but that's not who we are we are better than this.
We put the owners of the land under military government, enlisted them as collaborators and informers, and controlled their movement and freedom of expression but that's not who we are we are better than this.
We put thousands of the owners of the land in prison and hundreds in administrative detention without trial but that's not who we are we are better than this.
We build our settlements on their lands while preventing them from tilling their fields and picking their olives but that's not who we are we are better than this.
We allowed our illegal settlers to beat their children on their way to school and to take over their homes but that's not who we are we are better than this.
We kept thousands of citizens in 'unrecognised villages' without electricity, water, roads or schools but that's not who we are we are better than this.
We extra-judicially execute the owners of the land, arrest their children in dawn raids and try them in military courts but that's not who we are we are better than this.
We lock up asylum seekers whose cases we don't process in concentration camps away from our towns, into some of which they cannot enter but that's not who we are we are better than this.
We deny the owners of the land the memory of their catastrophe but that's not who we are we are better than this.
You see we are Holocaust survivors, and their land had been promised to us by our god and those doubting our right to expropriate, kill, settle, imprison, shoot, bomb, torture are antisemites.

 Demonising, and demonic, stuff, eh?

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

David Singer: Obama, Clinton and Trump Must Affirm America’s Crucial Commitment To Israel

Here's the latest article by Sydney lawyer and international affairs analyst David Singer.

He writes:

President Obama is causing consternation and uncertainty in Israel because of his continuing refusal to make clear that America will veto any Security Council resolution attempting to impose a settlement of the Jewish-Arab conflict in former Palestine other than under the Roadmap of his predecessor George W. Bush.

The Roadmap – first envisioned on 24 June 2002 – was finally documented on 30 April 2003.

Bush made the following written commitment to Israel in his letter to Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on 14 April 2004 – which was overwhelmingly endorsed by the American Congress by 502 votes to 12 in June 2004:
“First the United States remains committed to my vision and to its implementation as described in the roadmap. The United States will do its utmost to prevent any attempt by anyone to impose any other plan. Under the roadmap, Palestinians must undertake an immediate cessation of armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere, and all official Palestinian institutions must end incitement against Israel. The Palestinian leadership must act decisively against terror, including sustained, targeted, and effective operations to stop terrorism and dismantle terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. Palestinians must undertake a comprehensive and fundamental political reform that includes a strong parliamentary democracy and an empowered prime minister.”
Bush’s reasons for giving this American commitment were stated in his letter:
“The United States remains hopeful and determined to find a way forward toward a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. I remain committed to my June 24, 2002 vision of two states living side by side in peace and security as the key to peace, and to the roadmap as the route to get there.
“We welcome the disengagement plan you have prepared, under which Israel would withdraw certain military installations and all settlements from Gaza, and withdraw certain military installations and settlements in the West Bank. These steps described in the plan will mark real progress toward realizing my June 24, 2002 vision, and make a real contribution towards peace….
… The United States appreciates the risks such an undertaking represents.”
Israel honoured its disengagement plan and withdrew from Gaza and part of the West Bank in August 2005.

The risks in doing so have been translated into reality with the indiscriminate firing of tens of thousands of rockets from Gaza into civilian population centres in Israel and ongoing conflict between Israel and Gaza since 2005.

That Obama would seek to resile from this Bush Congress-endorsed American commitment to Israel is unthinkable and should be disavowed by him immediately.

Amazingly two presidential debates have been held so far between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton where the word “Israel” has not been mentioned once.

Both Trump and Clinton have remained silent up till now on stating whether they would uphold this American commitment to Israel.

Clinton was among those Senators overwhelmingly endorsing America’s commitment by 95 votes to 3.

Clinton needs to publicly commit that she will honour this commitment to Israel if elected President Trump has so far failed to say whether he will do likewise – although his rival Marco Rubio pledged at the Republican Jewish Coalition Presidential Forum:
“I will revive the common-sense understandings reached in the 2004 Bush-Sharon letter and build on them to help ensure Israel has defensible borders”
Trump needs to follow suit.

The third presidential debate also gives Trump the perfect opportunity to state his position if he is elected president.

Hopefully the moderator, Chris Wallace, will ask them both this crucial question – or they volunteer an answer themselves.

America’s reputation and trustworthiness for keeping its promises are on the line.

Monday, 17 October 2016

The Lichfield Disgrace: Answers Demanded from Dean Dorber

"Cathedral naves are the traditional meeting places for people to come together and debate matters of concern, to learn, reflect and find wisdom in the middle of difficulty and confusion.
 Our recent weekend conference ‘Holding Palestine in the Light – the context of the conflict’ was an attempt to help people understand the complexity of the situation and what roads to peace are available for all the people of the Holy Land, Israelis and Palestinians. There were some passionate exchanges and contributions from the floor representing very diverse views. It takes courage to make peace and the first step is to listen. 
That is a proper requirement for everyone who is concerned with the long term future and flourishing of all the Israeli and Palestinian people. We hope that the opinion, prayers and righteous action of people of faith and goodwill could yet help bring all sides together on a path to a lasting peace. It is my hope, and that of the Ecumenical Planning group who arranged the conference, that the weekend was a small contribution to understanding, and an encouragement to people of faith to pray and work for peace."
That's the statement that the Dean of Lichfield, the Reverend Adrian Dorber, issued in reponse to criticism of the shameful anti-Israel conference held at Lichfield Cathedral at theend of last month (see here and here and here)

And here's a declaration plugging the conference that Dean Dorber made on the so-called [Christian] Social Responsibility Network about a week before the shamefully biased event was held:
"I would be very grateful if you could bring a conference we are holding in Lichfield to the attention of all whom you think might be interested.  The details are on the attached flyer.
We are delighted to be able to host the event and we hope it will provide insight and knowledge into this most complex and agonising conflict.  We have scholars, writers and religious leaders coming from Jewish, Muslim and Christian backgrounds.  Recent Pilgrims to Israel/Palestine will find something on the programme to broaden or deepen their experience and understanding.  We will extend a warm welcome to all who attend and your commendation of the event will mean much to us."
Not surprisingly, the Dean's statement attempting to justify the conference has failed to cut much ice with those aghast at the thrust and tone of the deeply one-sided event.

Further to his powerful post describing his experiences at and impressions of that conference (see my middle link above), British blogger David Collier has written a long must-read follow-up post divided into sections.

In one section, he asks the Dean of Lichfield ten pertinent questions:
Revd Adrian Dorber, given my experience at Lichfield last weekend, given the audio below, given your statement and given the publicly stated mission of the conference itself:
    1.During the main run of speakers on Saturday. Why was there not a single person who would push a Zionist line or counter the vile lies invited?
    2.How did a Jew suggesting that ‘Jews have a lot to be sorry for’, help expose the truth or assist in the search for peace; how did that help cohesion in our own society?
    3. Why was there not a single book, nor single leaflet at the entire event that was not urging people to blame or punish Israel?
    4. How did it help the cause for peace that someone suggested Palestinian reaction to Oslo was children throwing flowers (whilst not mentioning any of the brutal terror attacks)?
    5. How do you feel that suggesting Zionists made a deal over holocaust victims in exchange for European support helps expose the truth or assists in the search for peace?
    6. How do you feel that demonising Israel’s peace camp by suggesting there was no reason for them to ‘close the box’ in 2000, helps expose the truth or assists in the search for peace. Would you accept someone saying ‘attitudes in the US towards Afghanistan changed in 2001 but we cannot know why’?
    7. How do you think it exposes the truth or assists in the search for peace to suggest that Israel has committed the ‘same crimes’ as both regime and opposition in places such as Syria and Iraq? (Note to Dean, as a Christian, you are a dying breed everywhere in the Middle East EXCEPT Israel).
    8. How do you feel about the refusal to accept a second question from an attendee who had been identified as a Zionist?
    9. Do you think, given the history of the blood libel and classic antisemitic tropes, that suggesting Jewish Zionists are like vampires in any way helped to expose the truth or assist in the search for peace?
    10. Do you think belittling or even denying Jewish religious and historical ties to the land helps expose the truth or assists in the search for peace?
Read all of David Collier's post here

Dean Dorber's replies are eagerly anticipated ...