Hilsden, Harvey and Thomas note:
Also on the agenda was promotion of non-violent resistance to the administration of Gaza and the West Bank, and the development of Palestinian Evangelical Christian theologies.
What is promotion of non-violent resistance to Gaza? Who runs the administration of Gaza? Hamas.
Bear in mind that two of the conference organisers, Stephen Sizer and Sami Awad, appear to defend unequivocally the Gaza flotilla, sent in May 2010 by the Turkish Islamists IHH. Stephen Sizer has told Malaysian TV:
Getting behind the flotilla is a fantastic way [that] people here in Malaysia can help. Getting relief supplies into Gaza, breaking the siege. It embarrasses America and it embarrasses Israel. The ordinary human beings are willing to risk their lives to sail supplies into Gaza.
Here is what Sami Awad – another Christ at the Checkpoint 2012 speaker – had to say about the flotilla, in the week after the event, in an article about “nonviolence“:
“The world woke up Monday morning to a shocking and tragic scene, as Israeli commandos launched an unprovoked raid on a flotilla carrying nonviolent activists attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza.”
It is true that the flotilla was carrying “ordinary human beings” and “nonviolent activists”. However, the flotilla also carried violent and racist activists linked to a jihadist group. This was surely worthy of a mention, from people who claim to oppose violence and racism in all forms, and are organising a conference about finding solutions to violence and racism.
IHH is one of the world’s biggest and keenest supporters of Hamas. Many people still think that the IHH are simply “Turkish aid workers”. They are not. They are funders and lovers of jihad. IHH flotilla participants carried weapons on the flotilla ship Mavi Marmara. Flotilla participants also chanted songs, calling for the murder of Jews.
Let’s be clear – when people speak of recommending non-violent resistance tactics to Gaza’s adminsitration, they mean giving advice to Hamas.
Remember, non-violent resistance does not exclude violence – rather it is meant to complement violence. Here is CATC2012 speaker Ben White on non-violence as “popular struggle”, and violence:
Popular struggle, like violent resistance, is not an end in and of itself; it is a method, a strategy. It is the end goal, decolonization and liberation from occupation and Zionist apartheid, that is ferociously opposed by the self-declared international guardians of the “peace process” and their friends in the Palestinian elite. The rest is just smoke and mirrors.
Hamas themselves strongly consider using non-violence as well as violent tactics. They oversee the administration of Gaza, to whom CATC2012 recommended non-violent resistance.
How did the Messianic speakers at CATC2012 react to this? According to their statement:
We did not feel compromised in any way, but were able to freely express our own points of view, and were treated with respect.
The conference organisers have issued a manifesto affirming their aims and positions, which was commended to the conference participants at the end of the conference. Some of us were shown this statement during the editorial process, out of respect and appreciation for our involvement, and out of acknowledgment of the bridges that were built during the conference. While a few of us offered advice on the composition of these documents, we do not in fact endorse all the points that were finally presented. Nor were we asked by the organizers to endorse them.
If a few offered advice on composition of the document, how can they then disassociate from the points of the document that they had an opportunity to fully edit and contribute to?
According to Sami Awad, Messianic leaders had a full opportunity to edit and input into the document.
According to Evan Thomas, he made some grammatical changes to the manifesto, without actually suggesting any substantive changes to the manifesto itself.
Here is Evan Thomas praising CATC2012 to Stephen Sizer (whom today has been called out by the Bishop of Manchester for posting racist web links). Thomas says:
“the conference has been probably the highest standard that I’ve ever intended, both in form and in content”
Furthermore, the Messianic participants wrote that:
The aims of the conference organisers were clearly stated on their website
Despite the conference aims being different in English and Arabic.
The Messianic participants at Christ at the Checkpoint 2012 now appear to be covering up, rationalising or explaining away the extremism and racism of the conference, so as not to look too bad by association.
This is a losing game for everyone involved, and must stop. Now.