Welcome to my blog. I’ve created and developed it for two closely-connected purposes:-
- to challenge the UK development charity Christian Aid over what, in my view, is its biased campaigning on the issue of Israel and Palestine.
- to monitor and challenge similar biases in the wider Church.
Christian Aid is 'the official relief and development agency of 39 church denominations in the United Kingdom and Ireland' - these incude all the major denominations in Britain with the exception of the Roman Catholics. I believe Christian Aid does a lot of good work, and indeed it was through receiving and reading the magazine Christian Aid News as a supporter of the charity that I began to be concerned – a concern which has developed over the past three years or so into a conviction that this is not a side issue, nor one which is going to go away. Reading the magazine, campaigning material and the Christian Aid website, I have been consistently disturbed by three main aspects:
Firstly, the one-sided portrayal of the conflict. The Israelis are always the bad guys, the Palestinians the innocent victims. The reality is just far more complex than this.
Secondly, so much coverage is given to this one issue as to give the impression that it is by far the most serious human rights abuse in the world today. That’s just plain wrong.
Thirdly: the first two points are criticisms that could be levelled against a great deal of secular left-wing and liberal comment (and, indeed, Muslim comment) on the conflict. But I find it especially worrying that a Christian organization campaigns in this way, because it suggests a fundamental lack of awareness of what is perhaps the darkest side of the Christian faith. Historically, Christianity has a shameful record of scapegoating and persecuting the Jews. There can be no doubt whatsoever that this helped pave the way for the Nazi Holocaust. As Christians today, we are called on to be ever mindful of this legacy; to treat our relations with the Jewish people in a spirit of sensitivity, of penitence and of thankfulness towards the people as one of whom our Lord was pleased to dwell (the "brothers and sisters of Jesus", in Dietrich Bonhoeffer's words); and to seek every opportunity of making amends for the sins of the past. It is because I want to recall Christians to an awareness of this question that I have adopted the provocative title 'Christian Hate?'.
Since I set up the blog, what started as a a specific concern with Christian Aid has grown into an awareness of similar attitudes becoming increasingly influential in the wider Church. Of particular concern to me as an Anglican has been the Anglican Communion's adoption of a policy of encouraging its member churches to consider financial divestment from Israel.
Let me be clear: I am not saying Israel should be given a moral blank cheque. I have no problem with Christian Aid drawing attention to the plight of the Palestinian people and taking a critical view of Israel’s policies towards them. I believe that the maintenance and expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories is indefensible, and that a just peace settlement must grant the Palestinians full sovereignty over the whole of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But there can be no excuse for making such criticisms in a way which suggests that the Jewish state is uniquely blameworthy and can be held responsible for the ills of the whole Middle East. Israel has, from Day One of its short history, faced violent hostility from forces denying its right to exist, and its actions need to be understood in that context just as Palestinian actions need to be understood in their context.
In the words of the International Council of Christians and Jews, “Voicing opposition to Israeli Government policy is not of itself anti-Semitic. But criticism which demonises and de-legitimises the Jewish state alone, often by applying double standards, acts as a contributory factor to antisemitism” (statement on Association of University Teachers boycott of Israeli universities, 24 May 2005).
If you agree with me, what can you do?
- Leave a comment
- Write to Christian Aid
- If you are an Anglican, write to the Archbishop of Canterbury too
- Tell your Christian friends about this blog
- If your church is one that supports Christian Aid corporately, raise your concerns with your priest and PCC members
- Last but not least, and whether you agree with me or not, pray “for the peace of Jerusalem”
I don't necessarily agree with all the contents of websites linked to this one, nor with all the views expressed in comments on this site. I don't censor comments I disagree with (unless abusive, racist etc., and not necessarily even then!) and I don't have time to respond to every point I disagree with.
In view of the nature of quite a few of the comments that are being left, I'd like to make it clear that my personal reason for upholding the existence of modern Israel is not that it is a fulfilment of Biblical prophecy. I simply believe that a people which has suffered history's worst genocide within living memory is as much entitled as any other people to want a state of its own. I have no objection to others believing in a Biblical basis for Israel so long as this does not lead them to endorse genuinely imperialistic policies which deny justice to the Palestinians.