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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

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Abdul Rahman

Scots blogger Indefatigathingummy has the text of a letter he has sent to the Afghan ambassador asking him to intercede on behalf of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan threatened with execution for becoming a Christian. I urge readers to take a minute or two to do likewise.

Root Causers

'During these past months, we have tasted of the pain that has been the daily bread of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. Why have our loved ones been taken? Where are they being held? Under what conditions? How are they? Will they be released? When?'

From the statement issued today by Christian Peacemaker Teams, rejoicing in the release of the three CPT members held hostage in Iraq, without a word of thanks to those who worked to secure their release.

There are some Iraqis who are not asking these questions about their loved ones today. Those who have loved ones among the more than thirty people murdered in the space of a single day by the insurgents whom CPT decline to condemn.

'They knew that their only protection was in the power of the love of God and of their Iraqi and international co-workers.'

Seems to me that's not quite the whole truth. Did they not hope their organization's anti-occupation stance and refusal to condemn the insurgency would ingratiate them precisely with those who have least compunction about killing the innocent? They're brave all right, but their morality is questionable to say the least.

Friday, March 17, 2006

'I didn't realise you were Jewish' - 'Neither did I'

One aspect that is particularly frightening and unacceptable is the insipid growth of anti-semitism on the left under the cloak of anti-Zionism. Clark is clear that dismissing anti-Israel sentiment and anti-Zionism as anti-semitism "cheapens the term". However, he does not draw a line beyond which legitimate debate becomes illegitimate, and where hostile becomes offensive. It is a crucial line to draw if language itself is not to become an actor rather than a descriptor.

The imagery and some of the language is familiar. A cabal of Jewish conspirators, well funded, close to or in power, working to their own agenda. It is not just the MP Tam Dalyell who expressed such thoughts, others have done so in private and, increasingly, in public.

John Mann MP writes in the Guardian about the concerns that have led him to chair the all party parliamentary group against anti-Semitism.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Madrid: the voice of the suffering

Two years tomorrow since the Madrid train bombings. Associated Press and Yahoo think it is important that the voice of those still suffering is heard. No, not the injured or the bereaved or traumatized emergency service workers, but those who are really suffering - Spain's beleaguered Muslims.

It's not that there's been a backlash as such, you understand. Any more than there was in America after 9/11 or Australia after Bali or Britain after 7/7 (although the backlash warnings started, in that case, about five minutes after the last bomb went off). But just as in these other cases, we are not to suppose this reflects the decency, fair-mindedness and tolerance of a Christian/post-Christian Western democracy. No, only decisive action by the government stemmed the tide of violent Islamophobia:-

After the bombings, however, the Socialist government did several things that helped calm Spaniards and avert a violent backlash against Muslims, said Jesus Nunez Villaverde, an expert on the Islamic world and director of a Madrid think tank, the Institute of Studies on Conflict and Humanitarian Action.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero unveiled an international campaign, now taken up by the United Nations, to encourage dialogue between Western and Islamic nations, Nunez Villaverde said. The government also hired more police officers specializing in Islamic extremism rather than launch a broad crackdown on immigrants.

Plus one brave Muslim leader, Mansur Escudero, went so far as to condemn the attacks and issue a fatwa against Osama Bin Laden. We don't learn whether any other Muslim leaders may have been saying somewhat different things; evidently the community speaks with one voice (apart from the folk who have been sending Sr. Escudero death threats).

But all this has apparently not sufficed to prevent some Spaniards from wondering whether mass immigration from Morocco has been an unmitigated blessing - which, we all know, is a very evil thought indeed. So no room for complacency:-

"We have no guarantee that just because nothing has happened so far it is not going to happen tomorrow," Nunez Villaverde said.

Well, that is very true. It would of course help matters if there are no more bombs left on crowed commuter trains. If the Spaniards, or the Americans, or the Aussies, or the Brits are finally pushed beyond breaking point, and the boys who cry 'wolf' finally get their backlash, it may perhaps look something like this action by a gentleman who knows how to do a backlash properly:-

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Protests are planned for Monday in the same area of campus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where, authorities said, a former student plowed a sport utility vehicle into nine people Friday afternoon. [...]

Police said Mohammad Taheri-azar, a 2005 UNC-Chapel Hill graduate, admits he acted to “avenge the death of Muslims around the world.” UNC police and local authorities, however, say they have not taken a stance on that interpretation, but are simply repeating what the suspect has told them.

UNC-Chapel Hill student leaders said that Monday’s protest is aimed at the reluctance of the university to label Friday’s incident as an act of terrorism. “This is innocent people being attacked by an SUV, driven by a man who was doing it for retaliation for treatment of Muslims around the world,” said Jillian Bandes, with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. “To me, that spells terrorism.”

It is doubtless because they disagree with Ms Bandes that the BBC, the Guardian and the Independent have not, as far as I can see, thought the story worthy of coverage.

Genocide? It's just so nineties

The United Nations tried to suppress a report that named the alleged war criminals of Darfur, in a way that it would never have suppressed the names of alleged torturers at Guantanamo. On the blacklist was that friend of freedom, Mr Hussein. While he was ranting at the journalists, he said that if the UN sent troops to protect the people of Darfur, al-Qaeda would flood the country. ‘Darfur will become the graveyard for the United Nations,’ he promised with what sounded like inside knowledge.

Isn’t that an extraordinary threat for a UN member to make? Why isn’t every liberal newspaper and liberal party fulminating? Because genocide is out of fashion, dear. It may make a retro return in 2008, say, or 2009. Books called We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed will win literary prizes. Lachrymose documentaries will appear on BBC2, probably narrated by Fergal Keane. The Church of England will apologise, as it invariably does. They will all cry: ‘Never again!’ And at that precise moment, it will be happening again.

- from Nick Cohen's blistering commentary on the Archbishop of Canterbury's softly softly visit to Sudan.

This was in Sunday's Observer. I've written a lot about the Archbishop, and I really, really don't want it to degenerate into a personal vendetta. I thought if I waited a few days I might read something that would persuade me that Cohen was being unfair to him.

What I did read was his interview with Sir David Frost, conducted while he was still in Sudan, in which he found it possible to utter a clear-cut condemnation of Guantanamo Bay. The 'radical Christians' of Ekklesia are orgasmic. Sudan? No interest at all at the moment, but perhaps they will eventually find some way of blaming it all on George Bush. Whilst over at Thinking Anglicans the thinkers are not to be deflected from the Real Issues. Sudan? Isn't that on the same continent as that country where the Anglicans are so beastly towards gays?

Here is what the Archbishop told David Frost about Darfur:-

Darfur is still clearly a running sore. Nobody has a quick formula for sorting it out. I think the difficulty many people find, or sense they find here in Sudan, is a feeling that some of the donors outside Sudan are waiting for Darfur to clear up before they can fully deliver on promises for the south and although that’s not a completely accurate percentage, it’s sort of skewing things a bit here, I think.

...followed by this exchange:-

DAVID FROST: And what do you see as the future thus far, for Sudan – do you see it mainly as construction rather than reconstruction.

ROWAN WILLIAMS: It’s bound to be a future of construction, as I say infrastructure has to be put in place and there has to be, I think trust, in the national government. Because of the feeling of decades that basically the government has been run from the north for the north...

The Anglican Communion News Service, to its great credit, follows its lengthy report on the Archbishop's visit with some 'background notes', incuding this:-

According to STAND (Students Taking Action Now: Darfur),* the ethnic conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan has resulted in an estimated 400,000 deaths, 200,000 refugees in Chad, and 2.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs). The vast majority being ethnic-black African Darfurians, many from the three largest ethnic tribes of the Fur, Masaalit, and Zaghawa. Recent cycles of violence that the above statistics result from, began in February 2003 when two ethnic-African rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) attacked government outposts. The government of Khartoum (led by the National Congress Party, formerly the National Islamic Front) and its proxy Arab militias (the janjaweed) responded by targeting civilians, in addition to clashing with the rebel groups.

The US Government and others labelled the Sudanese government’s counter insurgency strategy as "genocide", while the UN and others determined Khartoum’s actions to be "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity". Amid this terminology, the international community has only meagrely addressed the issue of Darfur. Efforts have been made in three main areas in attempt to manage the conflict, heavily relying on the young African Union: peace negotiations, peace monitoring troops, and diplomatic, symbolic action. STAND believes that approximately 10,000 civilians continue to die each month due to violence, malnutrition and disease. The measures taken by the international community, who are the most capable, experienced and responsible actors in stopping the conflict - have been too little, too late.

That is the measure of what the Archbishop failed to say. The Telegraph is not my paper of choice, but on this question its Africa correspondent David Blair says it all:-

Sudan has precious few independent voices able to speak out about the horrors of Darfur. As a religious leader, Dr Williams has a licence to do so.

The fact that he chose to keep silent means that he has done the people of Sudan a great disservice.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Replies to David Clark

The folk at Engage did a great job of replying to the David Clark piece, and credit to the Grauniad for publishing their letters. And David Hirsh makes important points about the head-in-sand 'I can understand that it feels like anti-Semitism to some but of course it really isn't' position adopted by Brian Klug of the Jewish Forum for Justice and Human Rights. I say it again: if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

Mine didn't get in (even if it was good enough, I didn't get this off until the evening, which is much too late these days)...

Dear Editor,

As one who is concerned that Israel is unfairly singled out by the left (and by the Church of England to which I belong), I think the charge of cynicism which David Clark levels against this view would be better applied to his characterization of it as “Others get away with it, so why can’t Israel?”.

I don’t want to see Israel or any other state “get away with it”. I do want to know how the universalist concern for the underdog which Mr Clark claims for the left is served by obsessively focussing on Israel while regimes like that of Sudan quite literally get away with murder on a vastly greater scale. And if his answer is that Israel is a democracy, does he mean to say that a military coup would be the quickest way to get the left off the country’s back?

Monday, March 06, 2006

The ‘It’s not REALLY anti-Semitism’ Drinking Game

Some great stuff at Engage in response to Labour politician David Clark's creepy article in today's Guardian. I particularly liked this comment:-

While it is certainly vile to call any arbitrary critic of Israel an anti-Semite, some corners of the broader problem have gotten have gotten so out of hand, you have to be naïve to wonder why orgasmic critics of Israel are looked upon with moral suspicion.

Hirsh’s dead-on response does almost have the making of a drinking game though. Apologies for the irreverence here but sometimes you need a morale lift, especially after #6 which still has me in a rage. Be also advised that I have an itchy trigger finger on under-current anti-Semitism and racism in general (see #9) so curve booze level as per your best *honest* judgment. I'm normally asleep after 3 beers anyway.

The ‘It’s not REALLY anti-Semitism’ Drinking Game

1) Sip if they associate with known anti-Semites, two sips for when they say, they didn’t know they were anti-Semites.

2) Sip if their verbiage is co-opted by anti-Semites, extra sip when they say that they can’t imagine how THAT happened (I’m doing my part to cut down on alcohol abuse and grade inflation here).

3) Sip if when their poor and lazy scholarship has them linking and quoting false anti-Semitic agitprop – on more than one occasion. You get an extra sip if they make a big stink against doing such things when they do it themselves.

4) Sip if their blind spot regarding racism, sexism, homophobia, religious purges, crushing free speech and free association, wrongs and rights, anti-union putsches, and other injustices, seems to cover the whole entire world INCLUDING their own backyards, favored parties, not to mention their *own* behavior – EXCEPT of course, Israel. That’s different. You must also take a gulp for every minute they use to explain *how* it’s different.

5) Sip when their anti-Zionism becomes globalized and any collection of Jews that disagrees with them becomes an object of suspicion. As above you get double the points they use the word ‘Cabal.’ Extra gulps for each thing they claim they’ve leveraged with their Shadow Influence™.

6) When a Jew is brutally murdered in a clearly bias-motivated crime, when you look at the violence of his death, when the kidnappers saying that the parents can always get the ransom at the synagogue, and they say ‘no it doesn’t look like anti-Semitism to me.’ Here, you don’t sip, you don’t gulp or chug. You just cry. I tend to end the game here when this happens. Nobody wins here.

7) Sip when a high-ranking but low-rent twit calls a Jew a Nazi and then decides that it’s REALLY about Israel in a nationally-read editorial column ... and they AGREE! OK that’s a gulp and a free refill.

8) Sip and sing your school song when the local self-anointed chief anti-Zionists goes ... ahem… ‘Zionist’ hunting through the faculty. You have to chug and buy a round for the rest of the players if they say that it’s in the name of academic freedom.

9) [i actually saw this done to someone once] Drink like there is no tomorrow when someone says to a certified {insert nationality here} of any religious persuasion who knows more of the details of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict then they do, ‘You are not a {insert nationality here} you are a Jew.’ What you do with the beer bottles (broken or otherwise) is your business. If they still insist that they aren’t anti-Semitic after that, no jury will convict you regarding that broken bottle thing.

10) And when they insist that some of their best friends are Jews while any of above applies, you drink down the whole bottle and call for a ride home. You’re done for the night.

And after all this, we inevitably get someone surprised when people question if they have any unpleasant biases running under the surface when they criticize Israel? Only Israel. As Heinlein said, ‘… specialization is for insects.’

But seriously, the fact that you CAN make a drinking game ala Dynasty, Star Trek and Footballers’ Wives out of this shows how predictable the more dishonest critics of Israel can be. And they STILL don't get it.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Qaradawi: Zionists behind mosque bombing?

Shaikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi said [about the Samarra mosque bombing]:

"We cannot imagine that the Iraqi Sunnis did this. No one benefits from such acts other than the US occupation and the lurking Zionist enemy."

- from AP via British Islamist blogger Osama Saeed, who apparently thinks this eminently reasonable (he also links to the ravings of Lenin's Tomb) and who also tells us 'I appear regularly in local and national media in relation to Islam and Muslims'.

Just to remind you, Shaikh Al-Qaradawi visited London at the invitation of Mayor Ken Livingstone. So this would, I presume, be the same lurking Zionist enemy that seeks to embarrass Ken over his racial abuse of a Jewish journalist.

The C of E and the singling out of Israel

After all, nobody can think that the archbishop and Lord Rogers are anti-Semites - or, for that matter, dupes of anti-Semites. They are concerned with human rights; perhaps even particularly concerned with Israel’s suppression of them because they hold it - as it does itself - to a higher standard than other states. And there is no question that Israel does behave oppressively to Palestinians, has killed non- combatants and does deserve criticism.

But the nag at the mind is this: why do their sins cry out for particular punishment? And what do people, with the best of motives, see as the result of such efforts to brand Israelis - scholars, architects or bulldozer traders - as uniquely unfit to be part of their international communities? What’s so especially awful about them, that we have to cease talking to them?

- from a recent piece by John Lloyd of the Financial Times (subscription-only, but the whole thing is here). Good that a prominent non-Jewish journo is sounding the alarm.

You think the C of E justified in singling out, from all the injustices committed around the world, those committed by the one small state that is run by Jews. You want to it do this even though you are unable to offer any coherent ethical case for doing so (sorry, but ‘The lands now known as Israel, Palestine and the West Bank are obviously very near and dear to the origins of Christianity’ won’t do at all - that was the Crusaders’ excuse). You want the Church to treat these injustices for all practical purposes as if they were the world’s worst, and thus encourage others to see them as such, even though they are manifestly nothing of the sort. You are content to see Israel put in the dock without Hamas standing alongside it. And, even though Christianity has a long, inglorious history of anti-Semitism, you expect that nobody will see anything remotely anti-Semitic in any of this – or at least nobody who is not making the accusation in bad faith.

How does the saying go? If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

Maybe someone can arrange to bring you face to face with a poor Zimbabwean whose house was flattened by Robert Mugabe’s bulldozers, or with a villager from Darfur whose family has been massacred by the Janjaweed, so that you can explain to them why their sufferings are ‘red herrings’.

- my response to a comment on Ruth Gledhill's Times blog.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Neil Berry: an apology

A fortnight ago I posted a piece suggesting that one Neil Berry, author of several anti-Semitic articles published in Muslim and Arab media, was also Treasurer of Christian CND.

My source for this was in fact wholly mistaken. These are not one but two Neil Berrys. The fact that it crossed my mind at the time to wonder whether this might be the case, and that I gave the source the benefit of the doubt because I was in a hurry to post before spending a week off-line, compounds my offence, and I hope the lesson I have been taught by this will not be quickly forgotten.

I add my voice to the unreserved apology offered by Harry's Place to Neil Berry of Christian CND. The accusation of anti-Semitism is not one to be made lightly, and to face it simply because one has the same name as someone else is appalling.

To the Neil Berry whose published opinions remain clearly anti-Semitic I apologize for the error of fact and for any distress he may feel over the association with Christian CND.

And to the citizens of the blogosphere I apologize for feeding you a crap story.