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      Bethlehem to Host Church Conference Which Demonizes Israel

      Theologians who are breathing new life into a kind of demonology which criminalizes all Israelis will meet in Bethlehem in March.
      By Giulio Meotti
      First Publish: 1/10/2012, 2:08 AM

      Next March,  the Bible College in Bethlehem will host dozens of US theologians, activists and ministries for the “Christ at the Checkpoint 2012 Conference”.

      It is to be a major religious and political event meant to demonize Israel and to support the Palestinian Intifada against the “ethnocentric” Jewish State.

      The impressive range of Christian theologians and pastors from many churches located in the United States make the gravity of the upcoming conference clear.

      Samuel Rodriguez, President of the US National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, is a speaker.

      Also attending are popular US preacher and “spiritual adviser” to Bill Clinton, Tony Campolo, and President of the World Evangelical Alliance and Asia Evangelical Alliance, Sang-Bok David Kim. 

      Two of the conference organisers, Stephen Sizer and Sami Awad, adamantly defended the Gaza flotilla sent in May 2010 by the Turkish terror group IHH.

      Another speaker, Ben White, has shared a political platform with Azzam Tamimi, who has endorsed suicide bombings against Jewish civilians in the past. 

      In the last few months we have seen an increase of attacks on Israel by many Christian denominations. While the United States is home to millions of Christian supporters of Israel, these are anti-Jewish Churches which are more closely attached to global public opinion, European bureaucracy, the media industry, the United Nations and various legal forums.

      In fact, the “Bethlehem Call” manifesto, which serves as platform for the Bethlehem 2012 Conference, has just been published on the websites of the Would Council of Churches, the Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ.

      The Bethlehem Call defines Israel as an “illegal regime” and a “crime against humanity”, it promotes “international boycott, divestment and sanctions campaigns” against Israel, labels the more neutral Churches  as “accomplices in crimes against humanity” and attacks Christian Zionism as “a crime and sin as defying the core of the Gospel”.

      The Bethlehem Call also updates the “Kairos Palestine”, the major document used as global tool for the Christian struggle against Israel speaking in the behalf of “us Christian Palestinians”. Even the name of the Catholic Custodian of the Holy Land, Pierbattista Pizzaballa, prominently appears among the most important signatures in this website: http://www.kairospalestine.ps/sites/default/Documents/English.pdf

      In 2007, the World Council of Churches, the umbrella organization of liberal Protestants claiming a membership of 580 million worshippers, also produced the “Amman Call”, which denies Israel’s right to continue to exist as a Jewish State by insisting that millions of Palestinians have the “right of return” to Israel.

      In 2008, the World Council of Churches convened a group of Protestant and Catholic theologians to review the underpinnings of Christian attitudes about Israel. The group published the “Bern Perspective”, which, among other things, instructed Christians to understand all biblical references to Israel only “metaphorically”.

      The theological meeting also marked a return to “replacement theology”, the medieval view that the Church has replaced the people of Israel in God’s plan and that all biblical references to Israel refer to the “new Israel”—that is, to Christians.

      Replacement calumny has changed its language, yet still is basically a death sentence for the Jewish people. Now it is Israelis, like Lucifer, who were God’s chosen but were cast out for their rebellious and evil ways, and deserve to be obliterated from the “Holy Land”, according to this macabre theology.

      Taken together, it seems these Churches are now breathing new life into a kind of demonology which criminalizes all the Jews living between the Jordan River and the Meditarranean.

      The writer is an Italian journalist with Il Foglio who writes regularly for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the much discussed book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary and has been translated for Israeli media.