Despite CATC2012 calls to help Hamas tactically, Messianic speakers “did not feel compromised in any way”

Messianic speakers at Christ at the Checkpoint, Wayne Hilsden, Richard Harvey and Evan Thomas have written a joint statement on their role in the replacementist conference manifesto.

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.

They continue:

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.

40 thoughts on “Despite CATC2012 calls to help Hamas tactically, Messianic speakers “did not feel compromised in any way””

  1. I saw this also on Sizer’s blog also :o( Was hoping for some much better from Evan Thomas, his Netanya based congregation’s web site disappeared a little while back, wonder if anyone could have a word to get Evan a blog and read up a bit with what was behind this awful ballagan at the checkpoint.

    What exactly defines this ‘manifesto’? is it something everyone who was speaking was encouraged to sign? if they didn’t agree with it, were they made to feel deliberately uncomfortable?

  2. Why don’t these Messianic leaders just say “sorry we were wrong” while they still can and people still have any degree of respect left for them. All this backside-covering just makes them look really bad and lacking in integrity or even worse like they agree with the CATC agenda.

    Have they never read “avoid all appearance of evil”?

  3.  ”the conference has been probably the highest standard that I’ve ever intended, both in form and in content”

    High standard of form AND content?
    I suppose it depends on what standards you apply…………I heard the the Messianic participants were love-bombed and made to feel “at home” that would account for the form, but CONTENT?????!!!! The standard of BS, false teaching, antisemtism, endorsement of terror organisations and calls that Israel be blotted out must have been up to scratch then.

  4. Did you listen to anything that was said at the conference? Have you actually tried to comprehend the points that were made without resorting to a knee-jerk and entirely misguided reaction? How many times would the speakers have to say they support Israel’s right to exist with security and safe borders for you to believe them (because they certainly said it)? How many times would they have to affirm they reject supersessionism (almost all of them do, excepting Manfred Kohl, who I didn’t find too helpful)? How many times do they have to say they aren’t anti-semitic, that they love the jewish people, that they want the best for them (which would include them no longer having to engage in the soul-tainting practice of a draconian occupation)? Before you can say anything, watch Munther Isaac’s presentation (it’s online, at one point he defends Israel’s right to have a homeland, and “it only makes sense that it would be here.”), watch Labib Madanat’s or Gary Burge’s. I certainly didn’t agree with everything that was said, especially the first night, but I believe the conference was consistently humble and sought to navigate this issue without resorting to false stereotypes or bitter divisiveness. Sure, detractors always resort to saying the speakers were disingenuous or outright liars or totally corrupted so that they don’t have to really listen, but I think those claims are both wholly unfounded and kind of sad.

    As a student of Dr. Burge, I have listened to him many times speak forcefully against the evil of anti-semitism and the terrible danger of supersessionism, at one point saying, “No, you definitely don’t want to be a supersessionist, that can too easily lead to theological misinterpretation and anti-semitism.” and “Christians must be univocally against all forms of anti-semitism.” So when I hear people making these accusations of anti-semitism, I find it kind of absurd. Saying that Israel does not have a theological right to the land or that the Church is not theologically required to support the modern state of Israel in everything is not anti-semitic or anti-jewish, and I’m tired of people not moving past such standard, theologically anemic reflexes.

    Your comments, and most comments on this blog, show a distinct refusal to actually critically engage the speakers in the fullness of their messages. It’s frustrating.

    1. Matt, you are part of the Wheaton delegation – have you seen the image posted by Wheaton students?

      How about the Wheaton student blogger condemning Messianic Jewish identity in Israel as “racial” and “divisive”?

      “In Israel, division is based on race. It is based upon religion, as we see in the church as well as those who are Jews and not Jews. The more division, the more problems”

      The Wheaton delegation appears to be using the New Testament in a way to condemn Jews, and belittle Jewish identity in Christ. This is why it must be difficult for part of the Wheaton CATC delegation to critically analyse the theological antisemitism expressed at CATC, and Dr Burge’s contributions to the anti-Jewish theological climate.

      1. I have a hard time understanding the quote (even though I know the kid). It’s kind of a grammatical mess. If he’s critiquing how many Messianic Jews are zionists, then I would agree, just as I would critique all Christian zionism. If he’s trying to denigrate the jewishness of Messianic Jews, then I think he’s out of line. Their Jewishness is no different from my American-ness. They shouldn’t have to ditch a cultural identity, especially *that* cultural identity, to be a Christian. Such a claim is unbiblical and dangerous. I’m not saying troubling statements weren’t uttered, or even that rejecting zionism does not have any danger of veering too far to the other extreme (i.e. anti-semitism and rejection of Israel). But I am saying that most, if not all, of the speakers are totally innocent of many of the labels this site has thrown at them. Or, more correctly, that what many people here think anti-semitism is is not *really* anti-semitism at all; saying Israel does not have a *theological* right to possess the land and dispossess the Palestinians is not anti-semitic in the least. If at least that basic statement cannot be agreed upon, then we need to acknowledge that we are simply talking past each other.

        As for the picture of the wall, I have to admit that I wrote the “For Christ and No Walls” bit myself. But, again, there is a huge difference between thinking the wall/fence, as it is now, is an inhumane tragedy and thinking that Israel has no right to security or existence. I’m not unaware of the >100 suicide attacks committed in the second intifada. I’m sickened and depressed by the fact, and cannot even fathom the terror most Israelis lived in daily. But this wall can hardly be considered a tool purely for security. Aside from the injustice that less than 20% of it is even on the green line, that it strategically steals valuable land and resources, the added fact that between 10,000 and 40,000 Palestinians get around security every day makes it hard to claim the wall is the real reason for the end of suicide bombings. (I only say this so to pre-empt the whole “It’s entirely for security” rebuttal.) The spray paint does not say, “For Christ and No Israel!” or “For Christ and For Palestine!” We are taught to be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine because we are pro-justice. But as Rich Harvey said, “The Palestinian narrative, because it is the narrative of marginalization, must be told more loudly” at the moment. I wish the conference would have addressed more of the injustices committed against the Israeli populace by Palestinian and Arab nations, but I don’t think they’re in denial of those, either.

        Considering we unequivocally condemn the crusades, the holocaust, and all anti-semitism everywhere (do people seriously think, too, that we ignore the fact that the early church, much less our Savior, was Jewish?!), and considering the fact that most scholars present rejected supersessionism and replacement theology explicitly, and considering the fact that the conference was openly presented as a Palestinian perspective (so it shouldn’t be surprising that the emphasis was on, well, the Palestinian perspective), and considering how we were told over and over again not to hate, not to be bitter, not to demonize, not to stereotype, not to vilify, I’m curious as to how you’d define the “anti-Jewish” climate. I’m not saying no anti-Jewish things were said, but there were also so many anti-anti-Jewish things said that the former can only be considered an evil aberration from the spirit of the event.

        If by anti-Jewish you mean the fact that the conference roundly criticized Israel and it’s occupation, then, yes, I can see how you would think there was such a climate. But I hope you realize that, even if you think such a stance to be wrong, we certainly do not in any way hate Israel or think it shouldn’t exist or some equally repulsive idea. I want Israel to be secure, to be at peace, to be unhindered by death threats and bombings (Gaza……) and fear. I just won’t approve of it seeking to achieve those good ends by such evil methods as this morally reprehensible and totally illegal occupation. I realize we will probably talk past each other, but I hope you can detect the sincerity and geniality of what I’m trying to say. Text over the internet is always problematic, so I apologize for perceived tones/inferences that may offend.

        I’m just tired of being labeled anti-semitic simply because I find no basis for Christian zionism or because I am against the occupation. You probably see that as “tough luck,” but I hope not.

        Peace. Sorry it’s so long.

      2. “As for the picture of the wall, I have to admit that I wrote the “For Christ and No Walls” bit myself”

        Do you have walls in your house, and fences in your garden?


      3. “But as Rich Harvey said, “The Palestinian narrative, because it is the narrative of marginalization, must be told more loudly” at the moment”

        I disagree. This is not a shouting match. There should be opportunity to listen to everyone’s point of view.

        Did he really say that?


      4. “. But I hope you realize that, even if you think such a stance to be wrong, we certainly do not in any way hate Israel or think it shouldn’t exist or some equally repulsive idea.”

        Quiz question Matt – how many CATC speakers have expressed their admiration for terrorists, jihad, or carrying weapons to terrorists who want to kill Jews?

        Quite a few actually.

  5. Matt, does your church building have walls?

    Does Wheaton College have walls?

    Does Dr Burge’s office within Wheaton College have walls?

    etc etc

    1. Writing, “For Christ and Not This Particular Wall” didn’t flow very well. Israel has the right to build a wall on their borders, but even so I hope it wouldn’t be the case (though, again, I understand their fears). To continue your analogy, when you have a dispute with your neighbor you can build a fence on your property. What you cannot do is build a fence that goes around their swimming pool, through most of their living room, around their refrigerator, and some of their garage. That is what the “Security Wall” really does. Just look at a map.

      Were you not at the conference to hear Harvey speak? What he means, and I think he’s correct, is that, as you inferred, it’s not a shouting match, it’s not about who has suffered more or whose pain is greater. Both sides deserve to have their stories told. But at this particular moment the Palestinian story is the one from the margins that is so often drowned out and unheard. It isn’t being listened to. It hasn’t been a shouting match because one side hasn’t even been allowed to really speak. Just look at the reactions your readers, and many others, had. The moment a Palestinian Christian opens his or her mouth he or she is labeled an anti-Semite who wants Israel to be pushed into the sea. I hope you can see why this is frustrating when most of the speakers are just as against anti-semitism as you are. I want to say all the speakers, but I can’t make that claim, just as you couldn’t say no zionist leaders are sinfully anti-Palestinian (now there’s a thought). But regardless, the desired message of the conference was in no way anti-semitic or pro-the-destruction-of-Israel. In fact it was against those harmful and sinful sentiments.

      I obviously can’t speak for everyone at the conference, but at least the 30 or so students on the delegation were able to make it through a tour of the West Bank and the conference and come out firmly against all forms of anti-semitism. We were taught not to hate or to stereotype or to try and reduce this incredibly complex issue to a simple black and white moral binary. I know you would have imagined we were turned into Israel hating drones, but that could never have happened with the leaders we had. You simply cannot make the claims you have been about the conference.

      1. “To continue your analogy, when you have a dispute with your neighbor you can build a fence on your property. What you cannot do is build a fence that goes around their swimming pool, through most of their living room, around their refrigerator, and some of their garage.”

        Would you be happy with the Israeli barrier being brought back to within the Green Line? That would work for me just fine too…

  6. Also, you may not be aware that a group of Messianic Jewish leaders that were in attendance during Dr. Burge’s presentation actually thanked him for his explanation of One Covenant theology because, although it certainly challenges any theological claim that Israel has a divine right to the land, it explicitly condemns any anti-semitism or replacement theology. Wayne also said he was pleasantly surprised and that he probably agreed with Dr. Burge’s diagram. Even thought Burge has been saying the same thing for decades, I guess it’s better late than never that many messianic leaders are realizing his theology isn’t the replacement/supersessionist craziness they are so afraid of.

    1. Yes, I noticed Wayne H and Gary Burge’s agreement about the charts about Jews in the “escha-time”. The interesting thing is, Stephen Sizer’s argument has long been that these End Times charts about Jews are simply part of Christian Zionism. Burge’s use of charts indicates that such constructs exist across the eschatological spectrum, including Christian anti-Zionists.

      1. Sizer’s contention is with Christian zionism’s obsession with trying to chart the time-line of end times, figuring out which prophecies are currently being fulfilled, assigning ancient names and kingdoms to modern nations, and monitoring political events for prophetic significance. Burge’s chart was simple and educational, and had none of the prophetic trappings that are so characteristic of Christian zionism. I think it’s kind of obvious that what Burge did with his chart is not at all what Sizer is referring to.

        Your post didn’t address any of the content of the chart or my comment, either. Again, the constant, reflexive, uninformed accusations of anti-semitism are unfounded and deeply unhelpful. Have you watched Munther Isaac’s presentation? Labib Madanat’s? Anti-semitism and replacement theology were spoken against time and time again by the speakers. Burge’s chart was just one example, though a very clear one that the numerous detractor’s on your site and others entirely fail to to deal with. I can’t say it enough, how frustrating it is to say over and over and over in so many ways that we are against anti-semitism and replacement theology and have people not even pretend to listen and just throw back labels and lies.

      2. “Burge’s chart was simple and educational, and had none of the prophetic trappings that are so characteristic of Christian zionism.”

        Burge clearly explained through his chart what he thought would happen to Jews at the end of time, and how that relate to land promises. Burge is anti-Zionist, and this ideology is intimately linked to how he thinks things will end for the Jews. Applying the same standards consistently, Burge and Hagee would be two sides of the same coin.

      3. What Sizer is referring to is the constant mapping of current events, trying to determine which prophecy is being fulfilled, which person may be the anti-Christ, which modern nation aligns with which ancient people group, etc. He’s talking about much more than a very, very simple chart tracking Paul’s theology of unbelieving Israel. We make charts to explain the various millennial positions, and that’s fine. We step into the realm that Sizer is criticizing when we become like Rapture Ready or Prophecy Watch, trying to fill in those charts with historical/current events. Again, what Burge did is so entirely categorically different than what Sizer was criticizing. And what is more, you still have not addressed the content of that chart and it’s pretty clear rejection of replacement theology, much less how it was received by messianic leaders. That’s why I brought it up.

  7. “Would you be happy with the Israeli barrier being brought back to within the Green Line? That would work for me just fine too…”

    That, at least, would be legal (though there would still be many problems to deal with, of course). But as it is, the wall is a stunning violation in so many ways. With our tiny mural we were protesting the wall’s aggressive appropriation of Palestinian land and water, the wall’s draconian nature (in some places it separates Palestinian from Palestinian, not even Palestinian from Israeli!), the fact that the Israeli government is using the wall as a weapon of occupation, and the lie that it is only for security (again, if someone wanted to strap a bomb to themselves and get through, it wouldn’t be hard at all).

    But given the fact that it took Bil’in six years of protests to get the wall moved back even the tiny bit the court had ruled (it’s still way inside Palestinian territory), I’m not hopeful.

      1. That’s not really the subject at hand, is it? The point is that the reality on the ground, the reality of the Palestinian people, involves a flagrantly unjust wall and innumerable morally reprehensible policies accompanying it. When we oppose these things and stand with our brothers and sisters in the Palestinian church who so often feel invisible and forgotten by the churches of the west, we aren’t being anti-semitic or anti-Israel. As I heard so many times during our trip, “We do not hate the Israelis. We love the Israelis. But we hate what they are doing to us.” My contention this whole time has been that if someone speaks out against those injustices, which, yes, are being committed by Israel, he or she isn’t unavoidably being anti-semitic. If this weren’t true, the prophets would have been terribly anti-semitic. When we challenge Christian zionism, we aren’t being anti-Israel. I am aware that anti-semites exist within the Church, but the leaders and speakers of the conference certainly are against such beliefs, and the conference was explicitly led in a way that made that clear if one was listening. Again, I recommend Munther and Labib’s speeches.

        This was my reason for posting. I don’t expect to change minds on the political or theological issues, but I just couldn’t take any more of the seemingly endless tide of misinformed and injurious labeling. Throwing around the labels so inappropriately instantly kills any dialogue and only perpetuates fragmentation of the body.

        Sorry for the lengthy responses. I’m just trying to qualify myself to adequately avoid the miscommunication and misjudgment that is so common in this conversation. Thanks for your willingness to at least respond, I appreciate it.

      2. It is the subject at hand, in as much as I want to know – is your problem with Israel’s barrier to do with the practical logistics of it, or its existence?

        That same question could be applied to how you think about Israel – for example, you say you’re not anti-Israel, but do you think Israel has a right to exist?

      3. What kind of question is that? OF COURSE I affirm Israel’s right to exist, to be secure, to live in peace. I’ve been saying that this whole time! Everyone at the conference affirms this. Again, watch Munther Isaac’s speech. “It only makes sense that [Israel would be founded as a state] here in its historic homeland.” While I think the way in which the modern state was formed (by dispossessing 700,000 Palestinians and destroying 400 villages) was unequivocally tragic, I’m certainly happy the Jewish people finally have a home, a place to live together.

        There are more problems than just the wall, but it certainly stands as an unavoidable testament that something is horribly wrong with Israeli “security policy.” I’m personally for a one state solution, as I think Israeli actions have rendered a two-state solution impossible, just like they wanted when they began building the settlements, so I don’t see a place for the wall in the future. But theoretically, if it were behind the green line, I would certainly have many less problems with it because at least at that point it wouldn’t be violating international law. Still, I don’t ever see that happening, and it certainly doesn’t have much bearing on the current discussion.

  8. Joe and Matt,
    You guys aware that the concrete barrier is only 5% of the radius of the West bank? the rest is all chain link fence.
    Funny how there is a new concrete barrier being built between Texas and Mexico, no one in the media seems particularly bothered.

    1. Maz, It does not matter if it’s a concrete wall or wired fence – it does the same thing – separates and confiscates. Besides, the places where there are major populations areas, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, etc. – is where the wall is and affects people. So your point is mute. Just look at how the barrier is built and where and all your questions will be answered.

  9. Matt, was interested in what you wrote and don’t for a moment believe you’re anti-Semitic. I understand how such a label can be offensive and hurtful to an individual when It’s far from the truth. Conversely, don’t you think labelling a belief in a Jewish homeland racist equally offensive?

    But more importantly from a Christian perspective, isn’t labelling someone who simply believes God retains a plan and purpose for the Jewish people and is restoring the people to their ancestral homeland a heretic equally offensive? Should we really be stating categorically that someone who holds such a view has, of all things, rejected the Gospel? Christians can disagree on such issues of theology without resorting to that kind of insult and language, surely?

    I understand how you do not wish to be associated with the evil of anti-Semitism, but it goes both ways. That is why some people object to CatC. Another is the complete one-sidedness, which you acknowledge above. Oh, and the lack of nuance which seeks to portray Christian Zionism and nonsupersessionism as somehow monolithic. Still, it makes for easy (better, lazy) narratives.

    1. Calvin Smith said:

      “Christians can disagree on such issues of theology without resorting to that kind of insult and language, surely? ”

      But Calvin, if that were true then the bloggers on this site would have nothing to do!😉

  10. Daniel, I think you miss my point. It is precisely such labelling of peope as heretics and racists, together with constantly demonising Israel rather than objectively criticising, that attract reactions. As I understand it RPP contributors want a two-state solution, so they seem far removed from some of the CZ fringes.

    Forgive me, Daniel, I may be speaking out of turn here as I don’t read all the RPP posts, but in the bulk of those I’ve seen you seem to comment quite a lot. So if you truly feel as you indicate above why do you keep returning?

    1. I appreciate your comment a lot. You somehow possess the magical ability to write an internet post with an amiable tone.

      For the most part I really agree with your statements. I might add a few things, however. The first is just to point out that Munther Isaac, at the beginning of his speech, acknowledged the diversity within Christian zionism and, although he would be using the label broadly in his arguments, did not want to offend the zionists with whom he was friends. As he was one of the leaders of the conference, I imagine (and felt it to be the case) that they tried to maintain that distinction. Except for Manfred Kohl. Did I mention I didn’t particularly enjoy his presentation? Definitely too divisive, I think. If you haven’t seen Isaac’s speech, I cannot recommend it enough. It’s on the CATC website.

      I do think a theology that somehow calls for the destruction of Israel is horrible, and probably heretical, just as I think a theology that somehow calls for the destruction and displacement of the Palestinian people to be horrible, and probably heretical. The problem for me is, with organizations like CUFI having such strong rhetoric and such an ardent following, there are so many people with theologies that blindly support the modern, secular state of Israel as it commits numerous injustices which directly harm our Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine, not to mention all the other victims. The fact that I cannot object to the inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people without having a chorus of voices say I’ve committed a dangerous theological infraction (i.e. criticizing Israel at all) means that the dangerous form of Christian zionism is overwhelmingly prevalent. The CUFI FB page has over 600,000 followers and is home to some of the most hateful words I’ve ever read. The Palestinian church has nothing like that kind of support. We did not have any Christians at the conference advocating for suicide bombings and the obliteration of Israel, but we do have an overwhelmingly loud Christian group advocating unjust Israeli action and the dispossession of the Palestinian people. There are obviously contrasting zionist voices (I loved loved loved Rich Harvey, I think he’s a great example).

      So while I would absolutely want to move past reflexive labeling, we are dealing with a very, very large population of people who have demonstrated with actions and words that they possess a toxic theology which approves of policies that oppress the church. While I wouldn’t personally use the word heretical, I would say it comes close (as would a theology that didn’t condemn suicide bombing). But can you see why many in the Palestinian church would label American Christian zionists this way? They live daily oppressed by a draconian system that has massive support from the American evangelicals.

      I don’t feel like I made myself clear, I hope it makes sense. Thanks again for your post.

      1. Hi Matt, thanks for the comment (and kind words). In light of what you said I wanted to discuss several things with you, but it’s getting late here so rather than posting a brief comment I’ll post something more substantial tomorrow. Blessings.

      2. Apparently,you haven’t read some of the hateful things,so called Palestinian Arab Christians say about Israelis and Jews. For instance,in 2006,the spokesperson for the Orthodox Church in Bethlehem,accused Israel of exporting aids,drug trafficking,and making prostitution legal.

        The blood libel apparently still lives,updated for this,the age of aids. Some of the other things Palestinian Arabs,including Palestinian Christians, say about Jews on some messageboards is so horrific and so obscence,I can’t even begin to describe.

        What I find so ironic is how Palestinian Arab supporters claim that Palestinians live under military occupation,and yet this conference was allowed to go on without any interference from Israelis, which were the main target of the conferences criticisms.

        I have seen terrorist parades in West Bank streets,just recently I saw a big parade commerating the 41st anniversery of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. People burned Israeli flags and shouted death to the Jews. The same thing could not have happened in Syria where people are being murdered right and left.

        Why won’t Palestinians Arabs,and especially those who claim to be Christian condemn terrorism when it’s against Jews? I have rarely heard an Arab,especially a Palestinian Arab condemn terrorism, just because it is morally wrong and evil. They usually only condemn it because it harms their “interests”,at least that’s what the Palestinian Authority does.

        Why did 75 percent of Palestinians support the bombing of the Maxim restaurant in 2003, which killed 20 people,and injured 100 more?

        Why did 80 percent of Palestinians support the shooting at a Jewish highschool in Jerusalem a few years ago,where 8 young Jewish boys were shot to death at point blank range in a llbrary in a massacre similiar to the Columbine murders?

        Why are mass murderers often glorified as heroes in Palestinian society?
        Why was there a recent program on Palestinian television,which glorified the 3 gunmen who took 100 schoolchildren hostage in 1974 in Maalot, and shot and killed 25 of them and wounded 70 more?

        Why was the mother and aunt allowed to call into a show on Palestinian television,and praise their son and nephew,who along with his friend, stabbed to death 5 family members,2 of whom were little boys,and a month old babygirl?

        And this is just the tip of the iceberg,according to the Palestinians own polls,most have supported murdering Israelis over the years. Why do many people think these people are deserving of so much sympathy?

        This world is so messed up today,and it is becoming more evil all the time. It seems more and more people are calling good evil and evil good,and sadly this has even seeped into the church.

        Of course,I realize more Arab civilians have died over the last decade, and that is a tragedy,but none of them were deliberately targeted,they died in military actions,which only happened,as a defense against terrorism.

        I have talked to Israelis over the years,most of them are decent people who feel terrible about civilians who have been killed in military actions against terrorism. In fact,many of these Arab civilians who have been injured have been treated for free in Israeli hospitals. And Israelis supported this,and yet it is usually Israel that is condemned as the aggressor,when in reality the exact opposite is the case.

      3. Hi Matt, apologies for not replying yesterday – so much work and marking to do it was impossible. I appreciate your response and here are some thoughts to consider.

        I think one of the biggest problems is language. You have expressed concerns about over-use of the term “antisemitism”. I agree it is used too often and should be reserved for when it is demonstrably true, otherwise we devalue its coinage. We can never afford to do devalue it, or indeed seek to avoid using the term when it is merited because, frankly, the Church has a somewhat long and not very glorious history of treatment of the Jewish people. Likewise people on the other side need to stop using intemperate language. You mention Munther Isaac seeking not to offend Christian Zionists, but another conference organiser openly and frequently refers to Christian Zionists (with no clarification at all what he means by that term) as deviant heretics who preach another gospel. This is simply not statesman-like from an academic who I sincerely believe should know better. More significantly it makes reconciliation between both sides all the more difficult. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the point about language goes both ways. I raised this issue with Stephen Sizer during our televised debate (see towards the end), which you may find interesting. It is available on my blog.

        That last point about the different expressions of Christian Zionism raises a second issue, namely, the tendency to oversimplify or even ignore the complexities of the conflict in order to promote a simple, disingenuous narrative. One can believe God retains a plan and purpose for the Jewish people and His restoration of them to the land without necessarily embracing a Likud-style belief in an Eretz Yisrael Ha-Shlema (Greater Israel). Indeed some on this RPP prefer a two-state solution. Others elsewhere maintain it is possible to see biblical prophecy fulfilled (where the Jewish people must be back in the land at the parousia) with only an element of self-determination (e.g. like Mandate days). Nonsupersessionism and restoration to the land can take many forms, all loosely labelled Christian Zionism. Some of the most die-hard dispensationalists I know also express considerable concern about the situation many Palestinians find themselves in. See how it lacks nuance to bunch all CZs together and label them heretics, racists (yes, that’s bandied about a lot), and other pejorative terms? I humbly suggest that isn’t going to help anyone, and worse, will only attract a reaction. (But I wonder if that is sometimes the aim: deliberate polarisation.)

        This oversimplifying of the narrative can also be quite misleading, even destructive. CatC produced a statement which was completely one-sided, with no reference to the many real security issues Israel faces, or the fact that some Palestinian leaders, and indeed other nearby countries and organisations, want to see Israel completely destroyed. I don’t see how people on the other side can do anything but react negatively to what many, unfortunately, see as a deliberate attempt to divide Evangelicalism and present those who believes God retains a plan and purpose for the Jewish people as somehow extreme racists.

        You mention CZs who call for the destruction of the Palestinian people. I honestly know of no such people. Now are you saying there are fringe CZ elements? Of course, and the extremist fringes must be isolated and resisted. Unfortunately a polarised debate makes genuine critical reflection by dialogical elements on both sides all the more difficult.

        Concerning Arab Christians, I fully agree as believers we should be seeking to stand by them and recognise that very often they have been caught in the middle. However, another example of oversimplification is the attempt to portray Palestinian Christians as somehow monolithically anti-Israel. This is simply not the case. The views of liberation theology Palestinian leaders does not tally with many interviews I’ve done with grassroots Arab believers as I seek to construct a “history from below” picture for a new book. Many Arabs actually prefer Israeli to PA rule. I’m not saying they all do… views are varied. But that is precisely my point, they are far from monolithic despite CatC seeming to indicate otherwise. And what about growing Islamism among traditionally secular Palestinians? (see an academic treatment in a book by Loren Lybarger on this). Doesn’t this have a bearing on the situation? Then we need to separate everyday Palestinians from some of their leaders, whether Hajj-Amin Al-Husseini through to some of today’s Hamas leaders, who have a long history of serving their people poorly and making their situation worse.

        But from what we see coming out of CatC none of this seems to be discussed. It is either all Israel’s fault, or else anyone who remotely holds the view that God retains a plan and purpose for the Jews as His chosen people are the cause of many of the problems Palestinians face. Indeed, I recently read Kohl’s 2010 paper and was astounded that he not only compared the Palestinian situation to the Holocaust, but that his paper seems to suggest how a religious mentality like that of Germany’s Protestants which eventually contributed to the Holocaust is what is driving today’s CZs to do the same.

        I think some of us can find common ground if we can isolate the extremists. But that will only come through toning down our language, recognising the complexities and accepting the situation is far more complex than people who want to demonise will care to admit. With respect, I can’t help but think simplistic statements like what you wrote on the wall don’t contribute much (it also doesn’t take into account how it has reduced attacks). In the end, such statements are really rhetoric meant for our own side (and if we’re honest many of us do it), but otherwise it doesn’t achieve much. All of us, on all sides, need to move beyond this kind of thing if the debate is to become more meaningful.

        Matt, I’ve spouted a lot and will stop there. If you got this far in my ramblings thank you for reading. I comment on a lot of these issues in greater depth in my blog, and if you want to continue the dialogue in private we can always correspond by email.



  11. I read about this conference even before it took place,and when it happened,and to me it sounds like nothing, but just another gang up on Israel hatefest,only this time under the cloak of religion and human rights for Arabs. What’s the point of it in the first place? To talk about how bad the Palestinians have it, and how horrible the Jews treat them? That sure is what I took from it.

    Bottom line,the Palestinian Arabs have had chance after chance to have their own state for the last 63 years,in just the last ten years,they have been offered several chances for a state,but they refuse it every single time,because[this is not me saying this]this according to their own polls,they want Israel to cease to exist,and they want to replace it with Palestine.

    I noticed how one poster talked about how 700,000 Arabs were misplaced during Israel’s independance. They left for numerous reasons,maybe some left out of fear,some left because the Arabs told them they would win the war against the newborn Jewish nation,but these same people who constantly bash Israel,over the *Nabka* never mention the 1 million Jews who were kicked out of their homes with nothing but the shirts on their backs in the Arab countries.

    As far as the security fence goes, it has literally saved the lives of hundreds if not thousands of Israeli civilians over the last 7 years since it was erected. Before the security wall went up,there was a suicide bombing,or other terror attack in Israel every week,and sometimes everyday. Since,the wall has gone up,there has not been a suicide bombing in over 5 years. For anyone interested in the TRUTH.There is more information on it here.

  12. The tone of quite a lot of this thread would leave me in despair if I did not know the power of Almighty God.

    We have believers, whether Messianic Jews or Gentile Christians, ripping into one another just because some dared to go into the proverbial lions’ den (the CATC conference) and tell some folk that we do need reconciliation and we do need to recognise Israel’s place in God’s order today.

    Personally I would not have chosen to go to the CATC conference but one close friend spoke at it while others that I respect also addressed the conference. I suspect that none of these folk spouted a line that would accord with the views of Stephen Sizer and Ben White yet other conference participants, who may never have heard from real Christian Zionists or those who reject supercessionist thology, were given a chance to hear these views. It is now up to those participants to respond to what God was able to say to them through people like Wayne Hilsden and Richard Harvey.

    Meanwhile we all need to remember the words of Jesus / Yeshua in John 13:34-35 as quoted below:

    34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

    We also need to remember His words in Matthew 12:25:

    Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.

    We cannot afford to see the Messianic Body, the Church,divided by arguments about whether or not to attend a conference. Rather we need to pray for our enemies including those that curse us (Stephen Sizer called Christian Zionists an abomination last year) so that they too may be saved by the LORD Himself.

    Please, instead of writing on these blogs, devote yourself to prayer and seeking God’s opinion rather than merely stating man’s opinion. In that way, more unbelievers would turn to Yeshua / Jesus before He returns, attracted in part by the love that His disciples show for one another.

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