Latest posts on Christian Aid

Why 'Christian Hate?'? An introduction to the blog

Places Christians shouldn't go A quick tour of Christian Hate?'s case against Christian Aid

Christians and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Read all my posts on this topic

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Reaction from Christian Aid

Back from my hols to find that for the first time I have an unofficial reaction from Christian Aid. Grayscale posted this comment on my last posting on Pressureworks:

Pressureworks is Christian Aid's political campaigning web site for young people (not just for students).

Christian Aid does not campaign in or for Zimbabwe - hence no mention of Mugabe. However, Christian Aid is working in Zimbabwe to alleviate suffering there. See here - http://www.christianaid.org.uk/world/where/safrica/zimbabp.htm - for more details on what's we're doing there.

Christian Aid does campaign in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, with its Israeli partners B'TSELEM and ICAHD, hence the stories currently running on Pressureworks.I hope this answers your question.

As an aside I would add that, although I can't speak for the organisation officially (I'm employed by CA but I don't devise policy), from what I've experienced here, I very much doubt that 'hate' is part of Christian Aid's work, anywhere or at any time. It seems to be a heavy duty word to be throwing around about an organisation that, whatever differences of opinion you may have with it, is quite obviously more interested in alleviating suffering than causing it it. I don't deny that the issues in the IOPT are complicated and ancient and that great violence is used by both sides in the conflict, both doubtless feeling that they have no choice. My sympathies lie with all victims on both sides. Doubtless there is vast anger and pain on both sides. But accusing people of hate isn't any way to deal with.

Walk in peace -


Thanks for the feedback, Grayscale. I have to say that 'we don't do Zimbabwe because we don't do Zimbabwe' falls some way short of a satisfactory answer to my question. If Christian Aid genuinely cares about poor people having their homes bulldozed, why isn't it laying into Mugabe? If it doesn't, what is the Pressureworks campaign against Israel about?

You don't like the word 'hate'. We're Christians, we don't do hate, right? Sorry, but the historical record makes it all too clear that we do. I don't like the word either. I like the reality it describes still less. Watch out, when I have a bit more time, for some thoughts on my holiday in Cracow, the setting of Schindler's List.

I believe the material I've posted on this site makes a reasonably strong case for saying that Christian Aid, as an organization, has got it in for Israel (I obviously can't pass any kind of judgement on you or other individuals involved with CA, and I don't doubt your good faith). Now it is certainly possible that this has nothing whatever to do with the fact that Israel is a state - the only one in the world - run (predominantly) by Jews. It could be that CA would react in exactly the same way to an Israel run by Bolivians or Norwegians or Arabs. I would like very much to be able to give it the benefit of the doubt, but my problem with this assumption is that it leaves me unable to comprehend what the real reason for the bias against Israel is.

Can you help me out?

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Cyrus

Grayscale here, can't log in for whatever reason so I'm posting as anonymous, but it's me.

I can't help you out in detail because, as I said, I don't make policy here. I suspect that the reason why Christian Aid, via Pressureworks, campaigns for an end to house demolition in the Middle East, rather than in Zimbabwe, is historical: the troubles in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories have been going on much longer than the relatively recent tyranny of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe. Christian Aid is a large organisation that sets strategy in 5 and 10 year periods and 10 years ago, Zimbabwe was presumably not identified as an area where campaigning against unjust oppression and suffering was needed.

I think that Christian Aid, as an organisation, doesn't exist solely to 'care about poor people having their homes bulldozed'. If the organisation was a single issue 'anti-house demolition' campaiging vehicle, no doubt we would be more active in Zimbabwe. But we're not. See here to understand what Christian Aid is and does: http://www.christian-aid.org/aboutca/index.htm Please pay particular attention to this statement: "We work wherever the need is greatest – irrespective of religion or race."

In the end, one organisation can only do so much. There's an opportunity cost for every decision made about the allocation of effort and resources. What we hope the poor and the homeless in the Occupied Palestinian Territories gain from Christian Aid's work there with its partners; is, unfortuunately, the loss of those suffering in Zimbabwe. The world's not ideal.

Now I have some questions for you.

If you don't like the word 'hate', which - unlike 'aid' - is extremist, incendiary and biased, why do you persist in using it?

If Christian Aid has got it in for Israel, why do we work with Israeli organisations like B'TSELEM and ICAHD?

Christian Aid also campaigns - and devotes a lot more resource to this campaign than to its work in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories - against poverty by aggressively lobbying the G8, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank. These are all, ultimately controlled by the same countries - the rich ones: US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Canada, Russia. (No Israel here, you notice.) If Christian Aid has 'got it in for Israel', why, do you think, we devote so much more effort to tackling the gloabl organisations that have the power to alleviate suffering worldwide, at the expense of pursuing your suggested vendetta against Israel?

Cyrus, I thank you for recognising that I, and my colleagues, as individuals, work in good faith, without prejudice and without any racism or 'faithism'. I also believe that you are genuinely concerned and see something that I don't about Christian Aid's work. I can't. I do not have any illusion that our work is flawless. Like any organisation, particularly any publicly regulated organisation, we are too bureaucratic, slow-moving and possibly, sometimes, misguided in our efforts. But we do not hate, and we are neither racist nor anti any other religion. We work with all faiths and none as a basic principle of our existence.

I look forward to continuing the dialogue, and to hearing your reflections on Cracow, scene of one of the greatest atrocities of the twentieth century. I think it's important that the attempted genocide of the Jewish people is never forgotten and that the evil spectre of anti-Semitism is immediately exposed and vilified and destroyed whenever and wherever it arises.

But, and I will not stop saying this until you stop accusing Christian Aid of hate-mongering, I also think it is important that you recognise that seeking to alleviate the suffering of an oppressed people is not the same thing as practising some kind of deliberate and sinister campaign against the oppressors based on their race or religion.

Peace -

Neal said...

A note to Grayscale:

You write:

Please pay particular attention to this statement: "We work wherever the need is greatest – irrespective of religion or race."

Thinking very hard about your above quoted statement makes me really wonder why your organization focuses so prominently on Israel. Surely, if the concern were to affect things wherever the need is the greatest, your organization would have been focused primarily on Sudan and only secondarily on Israel. Consider that since 1983, about 2 million Christians and animists have died largely due to a declared Jihad, forced starvation and forced Islamization program by the Islamist government and, if I recall, 4 million Christians and animists were displaced. To me, that is where the need was greatest and the suffering is greatest. Now, your organization does address Sudan. My point is one of weighing need and Israel is, by Sudan's standards, a minor problem.

During that same period, maybe 4,000 Palestinian Arabs died and none were displaced. Some homes were destroyed - usually connected with people who themselves had committed or assisted those who committed massacres - The perceived antagonist, so far as your organization is concerned, is Israel which, during that time agreed, as described by the Saudi Ambassador to the US, to essentially all of Arafat's red line demands (as proposed by President Clinton in December of 2000) while, according to that Ambassador, Arafat committed a crime against the entire Middle East region by not accepting Clinton's proposal.

Now, also during that same period, some 90,000 people died in the dispute regarding Kashmir. Your orgnization's website mentions Kashmir only once. By my thinking, the need was a lot greater in Kashmir than in Israel. And, I might add, the dispute in Kashmir is equally as bitter and long term as the dispute regarding the Palestinian Arabs and the Israelis.

To me, there are two reasons why your organization focuses on Israel - while being relatively silent about far greater oppression all over the Muslim regions (the above being only two examples of many): one, the region has significance to Christians (i.e. it is the holy land) and, two, the region is ruled by Jews.

I would suggest a bit of self-criticism for you.

First, as a Christian, you might consider your preconceptions regarding Jews. I have yet to meet a devout Christian, even one well disposed toward Jews (and sorry on this point Cyrus), who does not read Christian theology onto their understanding of things involving Jews. And that preconception is largely negative and, frankly, misinformed.

Second, you might pick up a few books about how Christians have treated Jews over the years. There is a rather clear pattern of hatred - just like Cyrus claims. After studying these books carefully, consider just how unfair your organization's criticisms of Israel are, when far worse behavior - of an entirely different order of magnitude - is occurring in essentially every single Muslim country and even against Christians in such countries. Consider the oppression of the Copts, of the Syriacs, of the Christians of Iran and Pakistan, etc., etc. Consider that Lebanon was occupied by Syria and there were 200,000 Syrian settlers in Lebanon, house demolitions, persecution, etc., etc., during Syria's occuption. It was far more brutal than anything the Israelis are accused of hatching up.

And consider that there is a reason why there has been mass emmigration of Christians from the various Muslim countries of the region. It is not due to Israel but due to intolerance, oppression and persecution, with large numbers of people uprooted, massacred, etc., etc., all while your organization focuses on the little dispute between the Palestinian Arabs and Israelis. And consider that somehow the same oppressive and intolerant mindset which plagues the people of all of that region's countries also effects the Palestinian Muslims, so that singling out Israel is not only to go where the need is not the greatest but to be quite hypocritical.

Huldah said...

Neal.

You said it all. Unfortunately, I suspect that Grayscale simply won't recognise the validity of any of the points you make. The prejudice against the state of Israel at Christian Aid is simply reflexive.

Grayscale's responses show no awareness of the disproportionate nature of CA's campaign against the State of Israel when compared with the injustices you outline, but also no awareness of the context of annihilatory Arab hatred in which the actions of Israel and her citizens exist. And lest, Grayscale, you should claim that Arab actions are a response to Israeli aggression, remember that it was Arab states who rejected the two state solution in 1947; Arab states who attacked Israel in 1948; Arab States who illegally occupied Gaza, the West Bank and the Golan between 1948 and 1967; Arab states who repeatedly called for the annihilation of the "Zionist Entity" and Arab states who are financing organisations such as Fatah, Hamas and Hizbollah which CONTINUE to call for the destruction of Israel and the Jews.

Christian Aid is in bed with vile terrorist organisations, and like the adulteress in Proverbs, wipes her mouth with her hand and says "I have done no wrong!"

Grayscale said...

Neal, Huldah, I greet you both and welcome your comments, critical though they are and much as I dislike being accused of hypocrisy. You might be right! As, at the risk of repeating myself, I have said before, I only work here - I don't set policy. To call Christian Aid 'my' organisation is, therefore, slightly erroneous; but some of what you say may well be true. If not happily then openly, and with the intention to learn more and try to understand you both better, I thank you for your criticisms. Some I accept, others I disagree with, and I have some responses below.

Firstly, though, - pace the "irrespective of religion or race" line, and although this shouldn't really make any difference between civilised people with a common interest in peace (rather than conflict), love (rather than hate) and happiness (rather than misery) – you should know that I am not Christian. Or Muslim. Or Jewish, either by religion or race.

My perceptions of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Israelis, English, Americans, Arabs, Palestinians, Zimbabweans, Australians, Brazilians, Kalahari Bushpeople and all other human beings are - well, let me put it like this. I try to treat people as people, primarily, as individuals, creatures with almost identical DNA to me, with whom I share the planet, animals with the same capacity for delight as I have, the same aptitude for gratitude, for generosity, for love, for peace, for curiosity, for wonder, for openness, imagination and acceptance. Most people - there are exceptions! - have the desire and ability to express and give play to these emotions - as opposed to their negative counterparts: repulsion, ingratitude, selfishness, hatred, violence, ignorance, cynicism, dogmatism, secrecy and rejection.

I find that perceiving people as primarily Christian or Jewish or Muslim is to limit my capacity for understanding them and communicating with them. They may choose to tell me that their race or their religion is the defining thing they find about themselves, and I will respect it. But it won’t alter my view that people are people primarily, created of almost exactly the same raw material and then changed most amazingly into their own uniqueness by the circumstances and environments and relationships in which they then live.

I'm not a historian or a geographer or a current affairs expert, and I must accept your statistics about Kashmir, etc. As I said in my last posting, I think the reasons for Christian Aid’s involvement in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories are to do with long term planning and resource allocation. One organisation cannot do everything. And I can I draw your attention (again) to the much greater efforts (relative to its work in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories) that Christian Aid puts into its campaign against global poverty and unjust trade.

However, I do also accept that the historical associations of Christianity with the Holy Land are possibly – probably - a factor.

With all due respect to you both – and Huldah, I do recognise the validity of the points Neal makes, there’s nothing reflexive about this response, I assure you – I’ve worked at Christian Aid for eighteen months and I have not encountered any anti-semitism. I wouldn’t work here if there were any. You can choose not to believe me, of course, but please ask yourselves why I would bother to write at this length if I were trying to hide something. I abhor racism, and nationalism, and religious bigotry.

I see it this way. Christian Aid campaigns against poverty and oppression and it has chosen, it has decided, as an organisation, to deploy some of its efforts to helping people who are very clearly suffering very badly as a result of avoidable human action. This suffering cannot be denied. Neither of you, I think, would suggest that everything is happy and healthy in the West Bank. In Gaza, no longer occupied, freedom of movement and finance and food and water is still denied. Living standards are low and falling. People there are suffering.

Please note that I am not denying that a small minority of these people have perpetrated great harm against those who oppress them too. I recognise that. I can understand why the state of Israel feels the need to defend itself. I can even sympathise. I can forgive. But understanding, sympathy and forgiveness are not the same as condoning and I cannot condone deliberate infliction of suffering by Israel on the innocent, any more than I can condone it by Palestinian terrorists or anyone else.

On both sides, the innocent – and as a father of four children I think particularly of those who are simply too young to be guilty of violence, and yet who are destined to grow up full of hate and violence as a result of the way they are made to live now – suffer more than the perpetrators.

And I’d like to think that this is more or less the attitude of Christian Aid too – although I must stress that I do not speak for them, only for myself, as an employee of Christian Aid.

Again on the charge of reflexive prejudice against Jews and Israel, Christian Aid works with plenty of Israeli and Jewish partners who share this aim of alleviating unnecessary suffering. I work every day with Jews and Israelis (and Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics and atheists, and, for all I know or care, Satanists and Scientologists, as well as quite a few Christians too, obviously), and they share the aims of the organisation. What of them? Are they reflexively prejudiced against themselves? It just doesn’t make sense for you to claim that there is ingrained anti-Semitism and anti-Israeli here.

I don’t think it makes sense to refer to history as a justification for it either. Many terrible, obscene crimes have been committed against the Jewish people, by Christians, throughout history. I do not seek to deny that and I think it is an abomination. It should never be forgotten and never repeated. I am not claiming that anti-Semitism doesn’t exist today either. We should be always vigilant against this vile belief, as we should against all forms of prejudice based on race, skin colour, nationality or belief. But to claim that because some Christians in history behaved inhumanly – disgustingly, unforgivably, like brutes - for those reasons, all Christians today must behave in the same way – this is not good reasoning.

Tell me please, Neal and Huldah, what do you think should happen? Should Christian Aid cease all activity in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories? Should Christianity be stamped out because historically some of its adherents were anti-Semitic? I don’t know, and that’s not a rhetorical question. I genuinely want to understand you, to know what you see as an ideal outcome. At what point, following what actions and words, would you be able to say, “I accept that Christian Aid and Christians do not reflexively hate Israel and all Jewish people”?

Not being Jewish, Christian or Muslim, I have little use for the Bible except as literature. The King James Version is a beautiful piece of writing. I recognise that it means a great deal more than that to some people. I’ll look up the Proverbs reference but I suspect it is accusatory, coming in the context it does, after you, Huldah, have made the frankly absurd and really quite inflammatory accusation that Christian Aid is ‘in bed with vile terrorist organisations’.

It’s a fraught situation and it’s better to talk about these things openly and to discuss difference constructively than it is to sling insults and make accusations and provoke violence. For that reason, I refrain from doing so – although, apart from being simply untrue, to accuse Christian Aid, of hatred, racism and bigotry is clearly and deliberately provocative.

For me, the way forward is to keep talking and I look forward to your responses. Please help me guys. Tell me what is so hateful and hurtful that you need to resort to this kind of abuse. Make me understand. I will try and keep on trying to do the same from my point of view. That way, maybe we’ll all learn something, understand some more, and find some common ground for how to make the world a better place.

Peace -

Cyrus said...

Grayscale, Neal and Huldah, thanks for getting a really good debate going. Having been away a lot over the last month I'm now desperately trying to peform surgery on a very sick computer. I'll join in as soon as I have bit of time!

Huldah said...

Grayscale

Thanks for your long reply. Perhaps you will re-read my comments and note that at no point did I abuse you, and throughout referred my criticisms to Christian Aid, the organisation.

I speak with passion because, unlike you I am Christian and Christian Aid is called by the name of my Saviour and purports to do His work in the world. It is associated thereby with the Christian Church.

You ask what Christian Aid should do? Well, it could begin by refraining from distorting information it gives to its supporters, and review the poisonous anti-Israel contributions it makes to the debate about the future of the Middle East to all sorts of international bodies in its capacity as an influential NGO.

It could also start being honest about the persecution which Christian Arabs face increasingly in the Middle East and particularly in the PA - about which it is strangely silent at the moment

For at present, Christian Aid, by its insinuating and spiteful portrayal of the Arab-Israeli conflict is lining itself up constantly with those terrorist organisations whose main raison d'etre is the destruction of the State of Israel and the creation of a greater Muslim Caliphate in the Middle East and beyond.

Thank you for being honest about your non-belief and disregard for the Bible. I hope, however, that the majority of people at "Christian" Aid DO have some sort of respect for its message beyond an an appreciation of the KJV. Personally, I think the association of Christian Aid with the adulteress of Proverbs is not only poetic but, sadly, very appropriate! You may call the comparison inflammatory - perhaps it is the first time that you have encountered the very real anger that many Christians feel about the way in which Christian Aid traduces the restored State of Israel and by implication, its people. I hope that you will reflect on it, and perhaps remedy your self-confessed haziness on the background to the political side of Christian Aid's propaganda campaign against Israel.

Grayscale said...

Thanks for the reply Huldah. I will do as you suggest, and do some more reading and reflecting.

What I'm thinking now, sadly, is that I probably shouldn't be getting involved in this issue, even from a neutral point of view. The level of righteous anger you express, and which I recognise and respect, comes from a place that I won't go. I feel as if I'm out of my depth! I still don't think the organisation I work for is spiteful, racist or deliberately anti- any nation. I think what we are trying to do here is to help the weak, the hungry and the powerless.

In fact, I know that's what I'm trying to do. And I know that the people in the Occupied Territories are suffering, big time, and are denied the opportuny to help themselves. Some are Muslim, some are Christian, but they are all suffering and being held against their will in a condition of suffering. I know this because I have met them and heard their stories and seen their pictures. Their life is hell, by anyone's standards. If you treated animals in this country in the way human beings are treated in the Occupied Palestinian Territories you would be imprisoned. this much I know to be true.

Anger, very real, very righteous, very certain anger, is a powerful emotion, a potent energy. So is faith in god. You know, Huldah, in your heart, that you are Right, and that those who oppose you are therefore Wrong.

Me, I'm not that far along. Religious faith is not a gift that I have been given. Maybe god doesn't like me. But lacking that faith, I work on empirical evidence, mostly, and the belief that people, human beings, are fundamentally cooperative and sympathetic in nature - not hostile and adversary. I could be wrong! I just don't know.

But I do know that when disputes reach a certain temperature and god and religion are used as justification for feelings of anger, then things turn violent. Bullets and bombs and suicidal aeroplanes start flying. And the people detonating them, whether 500 feet above the ground in New York, or 500 feet underground in London, or at ground level in a bar in Tel Aviv or in a ghetto in Hebron - all these people, on all sides, Know that they are Right.

That's where I get lost. I don't have such strong convictions and I don't really understand where they come from or why they can drive people who profess love and peace to hatred and violence.

I am going to research Christian Aid's work in the Middle East now, and also to read Proverbs properly. Thanks again for replying, Huldah, I do appreciate it, and I'll be back when I know some more about the history of CA in Israel and Palestine.

Peace -

Neal said...

grayscale,

I have read your comments with some interest. I guess I do not see the matter as you do. In fact, I think you are deceiving yourself, both about groups such as Christian Aid and about your own feelings. And, most of all, your perception about the dispute is colored by your feelings, not by the realities - both sides' reality, not just the reality that favors the Palestinian Arabs in their short term agenda.

First, I disagree with you that only a minority of Palestinian Arabs are involved in the violence. In fact, the vast majority of Palestinian Arabs support what I perceive to be entirely unnecessary violence - if they are really fighting for a homeland alongside Israel -. They do so because they do not consider Israel to be a legitimate country, no more so now than they did in 1948.

Recognizing that fact, namely, that Palestinian Arabs do not consider Israel legitimate - and it is a fact that is supported by polling as well as by annectodal evidence and the lack of any contrary view expressed among Palestinians - leads to different conclusions than you draw. You treat the Israelis as brutally misbehaving in their "occupation." I see Israelis who are defending their homeland from people whom, as I noted above, support violence in order to destroy Israel because, to the Palestinian Arabs, Israel is illegitimate.

Which is to say, I think you misperceive the situation entirely. The Palestinians Arab intifadah, despite what you read in the UK, is not directed toward creating a state along side Israel but to creating a state - a Judenrein state - to replace Israel. Read Hamas' covenant. Occupation has nothing to do with the matter unless you believe that Tel Aviv is occupied territory. You might consider this article by Judea Pearl, father of murdered reporter Daniel Pearl:

ENTICED BY this aura of civility in Doha, I was curious to find out what the participants had in mind when they pressed for "progress" on the Palestine issue: progress toward what?

Deep in my heart, I had hoped to find the Doha participants more accommodating of the so-called "two-state solution" and the road map leading to it. If this were not the case, I thought, then we were in big trouble again. Muslims might be nourishing a utopian dream that the US cannot deliver and, sooner or later, the whole dialogue process, and all the goodwill and reforms that depend on it, would blow up in the same conflagration that consumed the Oslo process.

I was not the only American with such concerns.

Richard Holbrooke, America's former ambassador to the UN, who was on the same panel with Dahlan, stated that the Arab world must contribute its share toward meaningful movement of the peace process. He reminded the audience that, by now, two and a half generations of Arabs have been brought up on textbooks that do not show Israel on any map, and that such continued denial, on a grassroots level, is a major hindrance to any peaceful settlement.

I had a friendly conversation on this issue with one of Dahlan's aides, who confessed that "we Palestinians do not believe in a two-state solution, for we can't agree to the notion of 'Jewish state.'" "Judaism is a religion," he added "and religions should not have states."

When I pointed out that Israeli society is 70 percent secular, bonded by history, not religion, and that by "Jewish state" Israelis mean (for lack of a better term) a "national-Jewish state," he replied: "Still, Palestine is too small for two states."

This was somewhat disappointing to me, given the official Palestinian Authority endorsement of the road map. "Road map to what?" I thought, "to a Middle East without Israel?" Where was the reform and liberalism among the post-Arafat Palestinian leadership that was expected to breed flexibility and compromise?

I discussed my disappointment with an Egyptian scholar renowned as a champion of liberalism in the Arab context. His answer was even more blunt: "The Jews should build themselves a Vatican," he said, "a spiritual center somewhere near Jerusalem. But there is no place for a Jewish state in Palestine, not even a national-Jewish state. The Jews were driven out 2,000 years ago, and that should be final, similar to the expulsion of the Moors from Spain 500 years ago."

The problem with Muslim elites could be seen again, even at the University of California at Irvine, where the Muslim Student Union organized a meeting entitled "A World Without Israel" - cut and dry. Also in May came a colorful radio confession by the editor of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Arabi Abd al-Halim Qandil: "Those who signed the Camp David agreement ... can simply piss on it and drink their own urine, because the Egyptian people will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli entity."

Qandil's bald statement drove home a very sobering realization: in 2005, I still cannot name a single Muslim leader (or a journalist, or an intellectual) who has publicly acknowledged the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a dispute between two legitimate national movements.

One side dreams of a world without Israel, the other sees Israel as a major player in the democratization and economic development of the region. Will this clash of expectations burst into another round of bloodshed?

My heart goes out to all the Europeans and Americans who believe they have found a spark of flexibility on Israel's legitimacy in the progressive Muslim camp. But looking ahead at the plentiful attempts to build bridges to the Muslim world, one wonders whether this outpouring of goodwill should not first be harnessed toward hammering out basic common goals and educational campaigns to promote them, rather than glossing over oceans of fundamental disagreement. Failure to address uncomfortable differences has a terrible way of extracting higher costs later on.


"Dialogue of the deaf," by Judea Pearl, http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1118888333134&p=1006953079865

Consider that Mr. Pearl correctly perceives the matter. Which is to say, this is not an ordinary dispute involving an oppressor.

In fact, it is a dispute in which the Palestinian Arab side perceives itself as, over the long term, prevailing because they have the greater numbers, 300 million people to 6 million people. And that perceived demographic reality, not the paucity of Israel's negotiating position or Israel's military, is what prevents settlement because the Palestinian Arab side believes that, over the long term, it does not need to settle. That, not what you seem to think, is what the Palestinian Arabs believe. And, quite possibly, they are correct.

That, not your talk about occupation, is the reality, at least if you care for the Israelis and not just the Palestinian Arabs.

To organizations such as Christian Aid, Israel, not to mention Jews, matter not one wit. Whether they are overtly Antisemitic, they're entire mindset places the concerns of Jews lower - as has been the history of Christians for millennia - than others. Were any other group involved, Christian Aid would not be so vociferously opposed to Israel's efforts to defend itself.

Anita Steiner said...

Hi Grayscale,

I think Huldah and Neal have expressed the points wonderfully. I am so grateful that Cyrus has this site to enable this type of debate and I hope that you as an employee of Christian Aid will consider these points.

I am grateful to these guys considering Cyrus and Huldah aren't even Jewish - perhaps Neal too? ..because they get listened to.

I can't express myself as well but I will try to explain the fear I feel by what is happening. I have mentioned in a previous comment I made on this site that my father is an Auschwitz survivor and most of my family on his side were murdered in the camps. On my mother's side, my great grand father was the sole survivor of nine children after pogroms in Russia. He then ended up in Egypt via Palestine, only to have his descendents flee when all the Jews fled in 1956.

Now consider that Israel is the biggest recipient of refugees in the world, probably over 80% of the population, not just from post-war Europe but also from the Arab world and Russia. Israel's responsibility is to defend the population against extermination, which the whole of the Arab world has been attempting since the creation of Israel in 1948.

You might think sometimes that Israel has been heavy handed, but no other country in the world faces so many people trying to destroy it. With the mentality of Israelis who are mostly the descendants of those that cheated extermination, they are thankful that for the first time they are responsible for their own self-defense. Unfortunately it seems that nothing drives the world crazier than Jews defending themselves.

Most Israelis know absolutely that Palestinians are suffering and are trying to do everything possible to get the Palestinian leadership to move forward in achieving a Palestinian state. It seems however they are not in the least bit interested in compromise - they want every last inch of Israel. Christian Aid is helping them to undertand that their goals are acheivable.

I have been watching the unfair criticisms of Israel grow, especially over the last few years. It is becoming common in the media to equate Israel with apartheid, or Israelis with war criminals, or Zionism with Nazism. My father says it is similar to pre-Holocaust Europe and I believe him. I heard a spokesperson of the Quakers, a pacifist, on the radio the other day saying he fully understood Palestinian suicide bombers. The UN can't agree on the definition of terrorism because the are too sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.

I just want to end with one point. If Christian Aid and all of the other critics of Israel believe that Israel is behaving badly, why then do they not encourage Israel rather then penalising her when Israel makes a big concession (with nothing in return, I might add). Christian Aid is contributing to the conflict by making the Arab world beleive that extinguishing Israel is possible. Every concession Israel makes, the determinatin to destroy Israel grows. Rather than putting pressure on Israel at this moment in time, Christian Aid should be putting pressure on the PA to combat terrorism. Anything else just gives the impression of 'Christian Hate' toward Jews.

Anita Steiner said...

Sorry a bit off topic: I did a preview before I sent my last post and then corrected spelling errors etc. However it still posted with the errors. How do you fix errors and then post?

Neal said...

Anita,

I am not Christian, I am Jewish. And I agree entirely with what you posted, with whatever errors you think you may have made.

Huldah said...

Thank you Anita, for your insightful comments, and Neal for expressing yourself in a less emotional way than I can manage at the moment!!

As a Christian, I am ashamed of what so-called Christians have done to Jewish people in the name of Christianity and horrified that so many of them are blindly carrying on that evil tradition. I was interested to find that "Christian" Aid is employing people who, while they have the requisite skills, have no Christian faith, or even regard for the Bible! HOwever, please be assured that there are millions of Christians out here who do love and support the Jewish people as the source of the Scriptures and the continuing Chosen People of God. We embrace the restoration of the State of Israel, many of us seeing it as a fulfilment of the Jewish Scriptures which we revere.

When visiting Israel, I have had the inestimable benefit of a humane, informed and intelligent (secular) Israeli guide who has expressed and explained the views that Anita has outlined, and enlightened me as to what is really going on in Israel. How much he and his friends wish for peace - but it seems that Palestinian leaders and possibly the majority of ordinary Palestinians want no such thing.

You might be interested in the following new website which examines the claims of IDF atrocities against Palestinian civilians through the use of outtake footage taken by Palestinian cameramen - which is most instructive!

http://seconddraft.org/movies.php

And an article in Commentary Magazine about the most famous of the images of the intifada, the death of the boy Mohammed Al Dura, which became an icon of the intifada, used to smear Israel throughout the world media.

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article.asp?aid=12002025_1

All was not as it seemed in this story - and the world's press know it!

Anita Steiner said...

Huldah, thanks for the statistics on the Christian support of Israel. I didn't know. With all the media bias and divestment by many Church groups against Israel it's hard to get a gauge on what is really the true sentiment out there. I'm in Australia where it is not quite so bad, but I read Melanie Phillips diary and the media (they are bad here too) and it all seems quite grim. I do know however that there is a strong noisy minority. The problem is that the lies have gone on for decades and it seems (to me) that too many accept them as fact. About 3 years ago I heard the word 'apartheid' used to describe Israel on the BBC and my heart pounded in fear. Today it is used so often that it doesn't cause the same reaction, it just hurts me how easily Arab propaganda was accepted so easily without questions. But one thing I will never understand is why the world supports unquestioningly people that have always stated openly of their intensions to wipe out the Jews. When Arafat died and the world was bending over backwards to honour him, our Prime Minister John Howard said "History will judge Arafat harshly". Why was that such a hard thing to say from other world leaders. He was a corrupt terrorist to the extreme. But no, to the contrary, you will have world leaders trying appease Muslims who are angry yet their anger is mainly due to lies they have been fed for decades. For example the the Palestinian deaths since 1948 I think is less than 10,000 with most being militants (Ofcourse that is not countng Black September when several thousand Palestinian's were killed by Jordan in 1970/71 conflict). Compare this with almost every Muslim country having many more than this being killed by their own governments. Yet the media and governments continue to give weight to their anger by never publicly questioning facts but 'trying to understand their anger'.

The Media actually contribute the the anger by continuing to publish lies, like Jenin, the Mohammed Al Dura forgery as you mentioned to name but two. The Arab world has for decades considered fabrication as a legimitate and exteremely effective tool in its war against Israel and the West. Arafat himself reinvented himself as a Palestinian refugee when he was born and grew in Egypt until he finished University. As did Eduard Said. And I bet that most people that despise Israel are either full on anti-semites or that their whole perception of Israel is based on countless lies.
I remember during the media frenzy about Jenin, The absolute hatred that came out in the media and throughout the world, yet none of it has ever been retracted. When the lies start to be proven for what the are there is dead silence.

Anyone that supports Israel, knew immediately that it was all lies, 1) because Israelis don't believe in hidding their dirty laundry. If there is anything fowl it will national headlines in every newspaper, and 2) Not a single Israeli - let alone Jew, would support Israel if such a thing ever happened. The fact that the media swallowed it so easily shows just how low their opinion of Israelis is. The fact that they believe every word of the Palestinians at face value (never Israeli rebutals) shows just how difficult it is for them to even try to consider the Israeli perspective.

Now I heard some in the Anglican Church are plannig to apologise to Muslims for the Iraq war. I don't know much about the details of this but since most polls show that the majority of Iraqis feel optimistic about the future since Saddam fell, I would think they would be offended by this. So who are they actually saying sorry too? Sounds like dhimmitude with a capital 'D' to me. To think the average Iraqi in the face of terror still went out to vote and the Church representatives are saying sorry to the ones that wanted to kill them. I only hope they are not Church leaders.

Huldah said...

Anita

I'm sure you're right that misinformation is a key factor in people's perception of Israel. The Palestinian leadership is quite unscrupulous in the way it manipulates the media, and anti-semitism is at the heart of it.

You might be interested in Melanie Phillips' latest diary post about the cause of the Palestinians economic problems. It's from the UN report and is enlightening!

http://www.melaniephillips.com/diary/archives/001418.html

Anonymous said...

All of this is very interesting. I am learning a lot. And my researches into the origins and history of Christian Aid's work in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories continues. Checking back in on recent comments, though, I must point out three things.

1) Huldah, I am glad that I've been able to interest you by revealing the not very surprising information that an organisation that - as I have said several times now - works, as a basic principle of its existence, with people of all faiths and none, employs non-Christians. As for my regard for the Bible, it is, again as already stated, purely literary. I find it easy to respect the fact that many people believe that it is the word of their God (which I do not), without it making me prejudiced against them as people. And not unreasonably I expect the same respect to be afforded me by those people. It is our only hope as a species, surely - to be able to respect each others' choices, in matters of belief as in behaviour, as long as it causes no suffering. I cannot see that mine does. And as for loving and supporting the Jewish people, yes I can tick tghat box too - not as the source of the Scriptures and the continuing Chosen People of God, but just as people. The old cliche applies: some of my best friends are, in a very real and literal way, Jewish. Others are Muslims. Others are Christians.

2)The second thing is, although I can sense some satisfaction on the part of, well, everyone who's posted here apart from me, this isn't proving - again for me - to be a constructive dialogue. I think that this is because I preach a humanist message and everyone else here preaches a religious message. I can see now that anything I say is falling on deaf ears because we believe very different things. And for myself - call it a weakness if you will, I am neither proud nor ashamed of it - I cannot understand an argument based on the Bible taken as an ultimate authority. I cannot recognise it as a basis for the resolution of modern political and military conflict. It seems to me to be part of the problem, and not the solution. Doubtless you will find my lack of faith, similarly, a cause of trouble, rather than a potential route towards reasonable, rational, peaceful interaction based on humanity, rather god.

3) Nobody has made any attempt here to explain to me why Christian Aid, if anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic, works with Jewish and Israeli organisations. What of that? The daily facts of our work with ICAHD and B'TSELEM have nothing to do with the Bible, with religion or with race. They have to do with trying to end suffering.

I'm not giving up on my researches and will check back in at some point. I do think it's important to exchange views. But if it please you my friends, the most likely (though by no means certain) outcome of our conversations here is that I will leave Christian Aid - not because I do not completely respect the organisation and the work it does, with people of all faiths and none, but because I think I've learned that I want to work more directly for humanity and peace than I'll ever be able to in a faith-based organisation. It's not so much that I feel any pressure within the organisation to conform to a belief system in which I cannot, or have chosen not to believe. It's those outside it who insist on carrying the baggage of conflict, rather than resolution, based on belief in the supernatural, rather than on the immediate, to my mind obvious, and fast-growing problems that we have on the planet, that are to do with land, resources, weapons and climate. These problems are not, that I can see, to do with god.
Walk in peace -

Grayscale said...

That was me, Grayscale up there - did the wrong with the login again -
G

Neal said...

Grayscale,

You write: Nobody has made any attempt here to explain to me why Christian Aid, if anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic, works with Jewish and Israeli organisations. What of that? The daily facts of our work with ICAHD and B'TSELEM have nothing to do with the Bible, with religion or with race. They have to do with trying to end suffering.

You ask a question to which there is no clear and clean answer. Here is an attempt.

1. Your assumption is that people never ally themselves out of foolishness, naivete, self-hatred, economic advantage and a dozen other such reasons. The same for organizations. Needless to say, there were Jews who, out of pure foolishness, worked with the Nazis. Which is to say, it is a logic error to judge, for good or bad, a movement by its allies. Such is an ad hominem style argument. Judge the anti-Israel movement on its merits - and the merits are very, very weak and based, in most instances, on prejudice, naivete or self-interest.

2. Historically, people have been known to work assiduously against their own interests. Hence, Christian groups within ancient Byzantium worked with forces of the Ottoman Turks, thinking that folding into that empire was compatible with maintaining Chistiandom in the East. Perhaps the results would have been the same without such internal political intrique (i.e. Byzantium would have fallen anyway to the Ghazis) but, nonetheless, rivers of blood flowed in the streets of Byzantium and those, including the groups who made common cause with the Turks, were killed or fled (although some, no doubt, lived on as dhimmi) and Eastern Christianity, in due course, gradually died out in what was Byzantium. In other words, such people were very foolishly wrong.

3. There is a school of thought which holds that people in and for governments democractic states should be held to a higher standard than people and governments in other forms of states. That proposition, to me, is preposterous but it is a mainstay among those who claim to advocate humaniteanism as a philosophy rather than merely as an interest in helping needy people. Applying the dual standards theory (i.e. that democracies are judged on a higher standard), anything goes for people in a tyrannical state including their unleashing of genocidal terror, as in Sudan and as Pakistan has done in Kashmir and as in the disputed territories in Israel - while democracies are held to standards that simply cannot be met and then condemned for doing no worse than those with which they fight. In the case of Israel, it is being held to an even higher standard, one which no government on Earth has ever, ever met while Palestinians are held to the standards of low animals - as in, anything goes -. Hence, a campaign of terror, intentionally directed at civilians in which the goal was to kill as many civilians as possible was viewed as unfortunate but understandable rather than what it was, illegitimate and unworthy of support.

In response to your statement that arguments are being religiously based, I am not a religious person and my arguments are not religiously based. Being a Jew is, to me, an ethnic thing. I do not think that the above posts have been particularly religious. I can only speak for myself, of course. But your notion that there is some humanitarian point of view makes no sense. People - even you - have interests which require protection. If you do not, then you have no experience in which to judge those who have real interests.

Regarding the applicability of your version of universal humanitarianism to Israel... Jews, in particular, have never really been admitted into universal society and certainly never in Europe or any of the Muslim regions. Which is to say, it is a remarkably insensitive argument to hold Jews to terms of universality which do not also grant Jews the privileges of that universality. And, moreover, it is all the more insensitive since those with whom Israel fights are held to the standards of low animals.

Anita Steiner said...

Hi Grayscale,

I am not sure how you understood these arguements to be religiously based. Apart from everyone identifying themselves as Christain or Jew, the arguements themselves were not based on religion. While I said I was Jewish or my family were killed because they were Jewish, I never stated whether or not I was religious. Read what I said and ask yourself if I revealed in anyway if I was a religous person or not.
Maybe your ability to tune out to what people are saying because you believe it is religously based is the same reason you can't hear the Islamist calling for extermination of the Jews.