For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
Yesterday I attended a lecture at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs given by Dexter Van Zile, Christian Media Analyst for CAMERA, on "The World Council of Churches and its stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict."
His comments, with some additional material provided, merit mention here.
Founded in 1948, the World Council of Churches (WCC) is an umbrella organization for 349 Protestant and Orthodox churches in 110 countries that seeks one Eucharist fellowship, i.e., one communion for all church members. The Roman Catholic Church is not a member, but the Council has relations with the Vatican.
An organization with a liberal bent, which embraces PC positions on issues such as the environment and women's rights, the WCC, says Zile, "is anti-Israel by default and by design." It demonizes Israel, applies double standards and delegitimizes Israel. At the same time, it is in denial about Muslim anti-Semitism and anti-Israel positions. While it condemns anti-Semitism in principle, it never takes a stand against it.
Part of the problem is that the Middle East Council of Churches -- a constituent organization of the WCC -- keeps Israel on its agenda at all times.
Here in Israel there is an Ecumenical Accompaniment Program, initiated by the WCC jointly with local churches, with anti-Israel material coming out of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The accompaniment program, according to the Global Ministry website, is: a program..."to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent efforts to bring about an end to the occupation and a resolution to the conflict....stated objectives are to express solidarity with Palestinian and Israel peace activists and empower local Palestinian communities/churches and to be an active witness that an alternative, non-violent struggle for justice and peace is possible to end the illegal occupation of Palestine."
Particularly problematic is the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem (Director, Naim Ateek), which has turned churches against Israel. "Liberation," of course, refers to "Palestinian Liberation."
According to ADL, the Center is a driving force behind divestment programs and takes an anti-Zionist stand based on theology: "It has promoted the idea that Zionism is based on a false reading of the Bible and that it stands for injustice and in opposition to God. In addition, Sabeel often compares the Palestinians to the crucified Jesus, and Israel to his murderers, alluding to the ugly and false deicide charge against all the Jewish people..."
Desmond Tutu of South Africa, a bishop in the Anglican church, is a patron of the Sabeel Center and a "master of the double standard."
In terms of theology, Zile notes that those who subscribe to supersessionst theology (replacement theology, which says the Christian church has superseded Israel as the chosen of God) are terribly threatened by the existence of Israel, which is a sign of God's continuing protection of the Jews.
Zile sees the WCC as too sophisticated to be ignorant of what's going on. To a considerable extent what's fueling the organization, he believes, is fear. There is an extreme reluctance to confront either Muslim anti-Semitism, or Jihadism. Confrontation with Muslims can be dangerous. Criticism of Israel, on the other hand, is safe.
As WCC has failed to raise its voice in criticism of Muslim treatment of Jews, it is now finding it difficult to do so with regard to Christians. Muslims conduct religious cleansing of areas and take Christians hostage without real protest from the WCC. The organization conducts interfaith dialogue with Muslim groups without raising the issue of how local Christians are treated.
Zile believes that it's important to deal with these issues publicly, to "shame" the WCC.
A prominent Christian Zionist who was present, however, suggests that there is little chance of changing the WCC: an attack on the group would not be productive. As a major part of the problem is that the WCC positions on Muslims and Arabs provide validation for Christians to assume anti-Israel attitudes, she suggests that local pro-Israel Christian groups have to be strengthened so that they can provide an alternative voice.
For those who live in or near Jerusalem:
A mini-conference on "The Preferred Option: Israel Sovereignty over Judea and Samaria."
This will provide an opportunity to explore the issues and create serious discussion. As organizer Yoel Meltzer puts it:
The purpose of the evening is to break the ice and start a process, namely the active promotion of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria as the eventual alternative to the two-state solution.
Monday night, June 20th. The OU -Israel Center, Keren Hayesod 22, Jerusalem
Doors open at 7:00 PM, program at 7:30 PM
Yoram Ettinger, Ambassador (ret.)
Dani Dayan, Chairman, Yesha Council
Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Bar Ilan University
Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post
There is a modest fee.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"