In a surprising move as Christ at the Checkpoint gears up to begin, one of the CATC conference’s main speakers Dan Juster has called on Israeli Messianic Jews to write a statement against CATC.
Interestingly, Juster has refused to apologise for publicly endorsing a smear on another blog about Israeli terror victim Kay Wilson, who voiced concerns about CATC’s terror links in public.
Juster endorsed implications that Kay was bitter and hateful, so lost her right to speak, and all her concerns were from a bad place.
So it is interesting to read Juster also has concerns, and is happy to voice these.
Juster essentially attacks the nub of the entire conference, accusing the Palestinian organisers of playing around with victim narratives. After listing some of the very real problems they face, Juster then critiques the honesty of their message, undermining CATC itself. He writes:
[O]ur Palestinian Christian brothers and sisters [..] not speak out on the macrocosmic issues, the powers of Islam that seek to destroy Israel and Christianity or at least establish diminitude for them. They do not emphasize that there would be no security barrier if there were not suicide bombings and other terror attacks. So they emphasize suffering under Israel and not under the rule of the Arab Muslims. Maybe this is so they can address one injustice realm without being killed.
Juster wants Israeli Messianics to write a statement acknowledging injustices perpetrating by Israel, but one that also suggests that Israel has more human rights than “in any other country.” He writes:
“I think the right kind of statement that does acknowledge the limits of our Israel justice, but also notes that there are more human rights here than in any other country (west of the green line) would be significant. A quality statement from the Messianic Jews of Israel could have great effect. But let’s come up with one we can all sign and one that will have a great effect due to its comprehensive quality in acknowledging all the facts on all sides.”
He takes a position on Muslims that appears to us to lump Islamic people all together in an unflattering narrative, writing:
My view is that a statement needs to acknowledge the injustices suffered by the innocent under Israeli rule and the injustices suffered under the rule of the P. A. and Hamas, the corruption, the stealing of foreign aid, and so much more. If we do not acknowledge the Israeli injustices, however, we will not get a hearing for the bigger issues of Israel’s election and the orientation of the Muslims to destroy Israel.
At RPP we would not even imply – let alone argue outright – that Muslims collectively want to destroy Israel. This smacks of lazy and casual stereotyping that Jews and Christians also have been the victim of, over the centuries. We are aware that every religion has its excesses and extremes, and conferences such as this reflect badly on problems within Christianity rather than within Islam.
Still it is certainly brave of Dan Juster to criticise the government of Rami Hamdallah, whom Juster is about to share a platform with, accusing his government of stealing foreign aid.
In a further bold act, Juster publicly implies that his fellow speaker Alex Awad is dishonestly ignoring Jewish fears, for political reasons:
One time I was in dialogue with Alex Awad. He asked in a group meeting, why we Messianic Jews send our youth into the Army to kill them. I spoke up and said that my daughter served in the Army and we did not send her to kill Palestinian Arabs. We prayed regularly that she would never have to kill anyone. However, we are a people who came out of the Holocaust and we believe that there are many who want to bring us to another Holocaust. He seemed surprised as if he had not thought of this. He said, “You mean that you are you are afraid of another Holocaust?” I answered, that I am not so afraid since I believe God has promised our ultimate protection and deliverance, but that the Army is part of preventing a terrible slaughter. (Though do note that some of us hold that 1/3 of the Jewish people in this Land will die-not my view) Was he being honest? Did he not think of our defense as seeking to defend ourselves from another holocaust; even the extension of our borders as a defense for security. Only a minority of Orthodox Jews are trying to take the whole Land now in a kind of messianic mission. The rest of the population took territory for security; to not be subject to what Abba Eban called Auschwitz borders.
It is hard to say whether Juster voiced these concerns because he wants to genuinely challenge the CATC narrative, or because he wants to reassure Israeli Messianic leaders that he shares their concerns.
Presumably, CATC will prevent Juster from being as honest with what he’s really thinking when he they give him a public platform. Or maybe Juster will choose to tone it down a bit, so as not to offend his hosts. Let’s see.
You can’t help but wonder: What is the difference between Juster voicing concerns about CATC (some of which stray into Islamophobia), and a Jewish terror victim who works alongside Muslim victims and activists, doing the same thing?
In the meantime, this is an inconsistent standard for an Israeli Messianic leader to hold up – vocalising his concerns about CATC whilst insulting a terror victim for doing the same thing, by publicly endorsing a smear against her.
Surely Dan Juster must apologise to Kay Wilson, or at least clarify what is going on, otherwise it looks like he’s playing a double game.