Op-Ed: The Church of England Battles the Israeli Satan
A resolution calling for “non violent actions to end the occupation” of Israel will be discussed by the Church of England’s General Synod at its meeting next month.
The motion is being proposed by John Dinnen, a Synod member who already backed an attempt to force the Church to divest from companies said to be “profiting from Israel’s occupation”.
The Anglican Friends of Israel, a small but brave group of Christian members who oppose the attacks against Israel, declared that an eventual approval by the Church’s synod would be like “adopting the ‘Nakba’ agenda”.
Anglicanism is not just another Christian denomination. It’s the official UK Church headed by the Queen. Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is the spiritual head of 77 million Christians worldwide.
If the Anglicans of the XIX Century played a pivotal role in the process that led to the State of Israel’s establishment, in the last decade the Christian denomination has been the source of a virulent hatred and inflammatory blood libels against the Jews.
In 2006 the UK Church reviewed its investments in companies with ties to Israel’s presence in the 'territories'. Four years later, the Church reviewed its investment in the company Veolia involved in the Jerusalem’s light railway amid concern that the tramline “will help to cement Israel’s hold on occupied east Jerusalem”.
Meanwhile, many UK bishops and clerics are saying openly that the Jewish State should never have been founded at all. And the most lethal calumny that the Jews were “the murderers of God” still had a deep resonance in the Anglican world.
Bishop Riah El-Assal, the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, is a well-known apologist for Palestinian terrorism. In 2000 the Bishop published “A Christmas Message from Bethlehem”, where he exploited the imagery of the Nativity story to attack Israel and the Jews: “Missing from this display today are the images of the innocent children who were murdered in Bethlehem by King Herod (Mat. 2:16).... Two millennia pass and the biblical drama continues. The plot remains but the actors change. We shall not forget the children of Bethlehem and its surrounding towns and villages, who are being harassed and oppressed. Nor will we be able to forget the murdered children, and their companions, over 270 Palestinians....”.
In February 2003, the bishop went further by declaring in Ramallah that the suicide bombers receive eternal life, and quoted the Qur’an: “Do not consider those that were killed for the sake of God as dead, but alive with their Lord”. He then expressed his appreciation for “all martyrs that were killed on the land of Palestine”.
The Anglican cleric Naim Ateek has an immense influence in contemporary British Christianity through his Sabeel Centre in Jerusalem. Ateek’s denunciations of Israel include imagery linking the Jewish State to the charge of deicide that for two millennia fueled anti-Jewish bloodshed, pogroms and the Holocaust.
“Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him”, Ateek has written, envisioning “hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified”.
Dexter Van Zile, a leading expert in Christian affairs, called the use of this imagery as “inexcusable”, but unfortunately the Church doesn’t see it as he does.
The Anglican Bishopric of Jerusalem incorporated the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center. So this anti-Semithic center has the support of leading Anglican clerics.
In 1994 a prayer book was published by Christian Aid, the “relief and humanitarian arm” of the Church of England. The prayer book, called “Companions of God - Praying for Peace in the Holy Land”, is full of anti-Semitism.
A few examples. A picture of an olive tree in the garden of Gethsemane is captioned with: “During the Intifada, olive groves were often uprooted by the army for security purposes, and replanted by Palestinians as an act of resistance”.
There is a photograph of a demolished home with the caption: “The homes of suspected or convicted Palestinian activists have been regularly demolished by the Israeli military ‘for security purposes’ ... It is a practice of ‘collective punishment’ forbidden by the Geneva convention”.
From the Christian Aid prayerbook: An Arab farmer walks behind a horse-drawn plow, “near the Jewish settlement of Efrat built on his land”.
An Arab farmer walks behind a horse-drawn plow, “near the Jewish settlement of Efrat built on his land”.
But the most instructive sample is a prayer printed over a picture of “a sunset over the plain of Jezreel seen from Mount Tabor, possible site of Jesus’ transfiguration”. The prayer says: “ ... the valley there, Jezreel, its sheen of beauty biblical in scope, was once a name of blood, like Auschwitz, like Shatilla”.
In 2010 Manchester Cathedral, the seat of the Anglican Bishop, hosted a Palestinian drawings exhibition which accsed Israel of “war crimes” and “crimes against humanity”. It was opened by Mona Baker, a University professor who sacked two Israeli academics just because they were Israelis.
Elsewhere, Barry Morgan, the head of the Anglican Church in Wales, compared Israel to apartheid in South Africa. “The situation resembles the apartheid system in South Africa because Gaza is next to one of the most sophisticated and modern countries in the world – Israel”, said Morgan. Archbishop Morgan accused Israel of “cleansing the Promised Land of all Arabs”.
The same archbishop eulogized upon the death of the famous Palestinian mass murderer: “Arafat has given his life to the cause of the Palestinian people and will be remembered for his perseverance and resolve in the face of so many challenges and set-backs. When I heard the news of his death this morning, my initial reaction was to pray that in death Yasser Arafat will find that peace which only God can give and which was denied him in life”.
In 1190, British Christianity linked its name to the York’s pogrom. Sieged in a castle, the fathers of each Jewish household killed their wives and children and then themselves committed suicide. The rabbi himself killed 60 of the 150 Jewish men and women in the tower.
At daybreak, the surviving Jews appeared at the gates and on the ramparts of the tower, and asked for clemency. They offered to submit to baptism and they defamed the dead. They were encouraged out with false promises, and then murdered. In all, some 150 died.
In the XII century, British clerics slaughtered York’s Jews after calling them “serpens antiquus qui vocatur Diabolus et Satana”. In the XXI century, the Anglican clerics support the Iranian Solution of the “little Satan”.
The Church of England risks becoming the home of unabashed apologists for Islamic rejectionism, wrapping genocidal violence against Israelis in the mantle of innocent victimhood and caricaturing the Jews as a forsaken people, superseded in God’s favor by Christian “New Israel”, stripped of any right to a land or a future.