Archives for March 2016
On March 22, 2016 the world witnessed the deadliest terrorist attack on Belgian soil. The concerted bombings at the Brussels Airport and the Maalbeek Metro station claimed the lives of over 30 people and injured over 300. Belgium has been in the news lately because of its connection to some of the 2015 terror attacks in France. I thought that the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack of January 2015 was going to be a wake-up call for France in particular, and Europe in general. It certainly looked like French authorities had finally committed to defending their citizens and even more so, their own Jewish community. Then November 13, 2015 came around and France was hit again, this time 130 people died and 368 were injured. Was France caught off-guard? What about Belgium in March 2016? I think that we are way passed the wake-up call stage for Europe.
For reasons that defy all logic, the Islamic State’s appeal to a young generation of Europeans is growing fast, and we are starting to see the fruit of IS propaganda and recruitment. Terrorism “à la ISIS” has gone global. While all politically correct people continue to dislike profiling and segregating, Islamic terror is simply becoming a redundant phrase. Terror is Islamic and Islamism is terror. Please prove me otherwise!
In the midst of a tragedy like this recent terror attack, people seem to cling together. Religious or not, Belgians or not, people are coming together one more time in a sobering demonstration of solidarity. The human spirit still can prevail. Photos of victims, candle vigils and a sea of international symbols and flags can be spotted in Belgium. People are organizing peaceful gatherings akin to the historic Paris March of January 2015. So, we might be passed the wake-up call stage, but people are still people and tragedy–as devastating as it might be–can be bonding. Today is the time for putting our differences aside and holding hands against terrorism of any kind.
Well, apparently, this is true for all people except those who are pro-Palestinian. In a despicable display of hatred that is more politically targeted than anything else, we have seen several people come to vigils and either tear or remove Israeli flags to only cover them with a Palestinian flag. What in the world does this have to do with the Islamic State attacking Belgium? Absolutely nothing! At a time when the world mourns the innocent victims of yet another terrorist attack, some people have the chutzpah to barge in and inject their antisemitic venom with no apparent shame whatsoever. The hatred of Israel is so deep that pro-Palestinian people cannot even stomach the mere sight of and Israeli flag at a peace vigil for the Brussels victims. In some cases, they will even go as far as burning the flag and chanting anti-Israel slogans. Are they insinuating that the terrorist attacks were Israel’s fault? seriously!
What is even more disturbing is the fact that these acts don’t seem to phase anyone in the media. A woman in a Hijab and wearing a Palestinian scarf is seen tearing an Israeli flag apart and then covering the remains with the Palestinian flag as people all around her watch in silence. Are they clueless or careless? How about the commentators on that French speaking TV who are talking about an upcoming gathering for a memorial as they show the woman live and not one of them seem to notice or care?
Even though the whole world knows that Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu are far from being friends, when came the time to march in Paris in 2015, they both showed up, and even if there was a hint of hypocrisy from Abbas who clearly supports terrorism, he was still in the midst of an international historic moment.
It should now be clear that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is much more than a land issue. It is not and never was about Israel occupying Palestine. Rather, it is about the simple goal of completely erasing the Jews and Israel from the face of the earth. How would you explain the fact that the simple display of a flag amidst a myriad of other flags would provoke pro-Palestinians to rip and/or cover the Israeli symbol?
Frankly, in a normal world, these displays of hatred would be singled out and rebuked immediately, and even more so in the context of the aftermath of a terror attack like the Brussels airport and subway attacks. But we do not live in a normal world. We live in a world where the victims are made into perpetrators and where more and more people worship death more than they value life.
Apparently, Israel bashing now supersedes any international display of unity in honor of terror victims. Hiding or destroying the Israeli flag as if Israel was somehow guilty or involved in the recent terror is beyond despicable. Please do not go on telling me that the Palestinian narrative is one of justice, human rights and tolerance. Where was human decency, and more tragically where was human outrage for such acts of pure hatred?
For the twelfth year in a row, campuses around the United States and now even around the world are promoting an event known as Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW). The decade old movement has picked up quite a bit of momentum in the last few years as we can see on their interactive map of events around the world. The vast majority of anti-Israel events will take place in the United States and Western Europe, with more in South Africa and South America. The claim is made that Israel is guilty of apartheid just like South Africa was. In a short video, a spokesperson for the AJ+ news website explains apartheid and leads the viewers to connect South African protest against it to Palestinian protest against Israeli apartheid. While her description of South African apartheid is somewhat accurate, her linking it to Israel is a giant stretch based on many false presuppositions. Yet, that well produced video and many more of the sort are fueling organizations such as Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW).
In their mission statement, which they call their “Basis of Unity”, IAW claims that:” The aim of IAW is to educate people about the nature of Israel as an apartheid system and to build Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns as part of a growing global BDS movement.” furthermore, they also state that they are “against the racist ideology of Zionism, which is the impetus for Israeli colonialism, because it inherently discriminates against those who are not Jewish. We are against all forms of discrimination, and believe that there can never be justice without the restoration of full rights for everyone, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or nationality.”
Their promotional video has a message of unity and social justice accompanied by a catchy reggae-style tune. It starts with a bold statement saying:” One has to keep telling the story in as many ways as possible, as it insistently as possible, and in as compelling a way as possible, to keep attention to it, because there is always a fear it might just disappear.” In and of itself the message is true, but what they apply it to isn’t. Over the years, the IAW organizers have invited Israel haters, antisemites, historical revisionists and Holocaust deniers alike. People such as Noam Chomsky, Illan Pappé, who while not blatantly denying the Holocaust, accuses the original victims [the Jews] of perpetrating a new Holocaust on the new victims [the Palestinians] and Rabbi Yisrael David Weiss from anti-Jewish (you read it right!) group Neturei Karta, to name just a few. Or even Omar Barghouti from Qatar who along with his anti-Israel BDS stance has also pursued a PhD at Tel Aviv University. So much for apartheid Mr. Barghouti!
So, if I understand IAW promoters, it is appropriate to further tell the story–as unfounded as it might be–of Israeli occupation and crimes against Palestinians, and it is equally appropriate, if not expected, to perpetuate the notion that the Holocaust never happened or was grossly exaggerated.
Over the years, what started as a series of meeting over a few campuses in America and even fewer across the globe, has grown to over 150 locations globally. IAW sympathizers go out of their way to encourage others to boycott Israel and divest any funding they could from the only democracy in the Middle East, all in the name of social justice. Recently they have used what is known as intersectionality. This approach to social justice connects all types of oppressions and abuses under the same banner. Writer and lecturer Ziva Dahl explains “Proponents of intersectionality see a world of all-encompassing oppression, where racism, classism, sexism, homophobia and ableism constitute an intersecting system. All injustices are interconnected, even if occurring in unconnected geographic, cultural and political environments. This is the rationalization for building alliances among unrelated causes like LGBTQ rights, fossil fuel divestment, prison reform, racial discrimination and immigration.”
Anti-Israel organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace, are quick to add the Palestinian struggle to all other minorities’ fights against injustice. So, now we can save the whales, promote transgender people and divest from Israel all in one fell swoop! After all, it is all about minorities being abused! This also leads to having groups who share no common ground ideologically, hold hands against Israel and the Jewish people. This builds a stronger case for what I call End-Times antisemitism as it illustrates incredible irrationality.
But where is the outrage for all the other countries of the world that commit or have committed crimes against humanity? According to the International Criminal Court in La Hague, Netherlands, a crime against humanity, as defined in their “Rome Statute” is any of the following:
• Deportation or forcible transfer of population
• Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law
• Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity
• Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious and/or gender
• Enforced disappearance of persons
• The crime of apartheid
• Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.
Where is the call to boycott China, Sudan, North Korea, Rwanda, Congo or Syria among others? Where is the public cry to denounce the multiple genocides and ethnic cleansing around the globe? It is a stretch, but even if these people were to continue pointing the finger at Israel for crimes that they haven’t committed, why are they not also pointing the finger at Hamas for crimes that they are committing? Sure, it can be argued that not all Palestinians are terrorists, but regarding those who are, why are they still being given “carte blanche” to commit more crimes? Israel Apartheid Week is more than blindness or ignorance, it is a willful vilification of Israel and it has absolutely nothing to do with global social justice.
It finally happened today. After months of calls by religious leaders and Mideast lfor the White House and State Department to call the ISIS slaughter of Christians, Muslims and Yazidis what it rea…
I recently reviewed the current Christ at the Checkpoint (CatC) Manifesto point by point from a biblical perspective. As a result, I found myself either agreeing, disagreeing or a bit of both. The whole breakdown was part of a pre-conference review I did. One apparent core value of the CatC Manifesto–rightfully so– is reconciliation:
1. The Kingdom of God has come. Evangelicals must reclaim the prophetic role in bringing peace, justice and reconciliation in Palestine and Israel.
2. Reconciliation recognizes God’s image in one another.
On one hand, I do not agree on the point that the Kingdom of God has come (Kingdom Now Theology claims among other things, that Yeshua’s Kingdom was inaugurated at His first coming while Scripture states that He will reign as Messianic King on the throne of David from Jerusalem in a yet to come Millennial Messianic Kingdom as validated by Psalm 72:8, 11, 17; Isaiah 9:7, 11:6-11; Jeremiah 23:6, and Zechariah 3:10 among other Scriptures). But on the other hand, as a believer in Yeshua, I see the great need for peace, justice and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. Furthermore, as proposed in Article 2 of their Manifesto, I agree that we are created in God’s image and should look at each other from that perspective only (God created man and woman in His image, regardless of ethnicity as seen in Genesis 1:27; 5:1; 9:6; 1 Corinthians 11:7; and Ephesians 4:24.)
Reconciliation is indeed critical, as long as real reconciliation is sought.Biblical or not, proper reconciliation requires:
1. Identify the issue
2. Identify the protagonists
3. Recognize the need to reconcile
4. Recognize shortcomings
5. Seek forgiveness and unity
These five steps can be used in any context, but when it involves believers, it must be on the firm foundation of God’s word, based on a consistent and literal approach to the Bible. Anything less brings man’s opinion into the equation and reveals our inability to be unbiased and just. In the context of CatC 2016, it was hardly the case. the scale was tipped in favor of the Palestinian and Palestine from the word go!
It is obvious to Israelis and Arabs, as well as the rest of the world that there is a crisis/conflict in the Middle East. The issue has been identified as a disputed piece of land the size of the state of New Jersey. Some will claim that this sliver of real estate belongs to the Jewish people based on a covenant that God made with them through Abraham, going back to Genesis 12 and further ratified through Isaac and Jacob in Genesis 12:1-3, 7; 13:15;17:7-8, 19; 25:5-6; 26:3; 28:3-4 and 35:9-15. Others will argue that the land belonged to the Palestinians and was stolen, colonized and now suffers from an apartheid policy by Israel. Identifying the issue could be done by saying that opinions differ on whom the land belongs to.
The protagonists–for lack of a better word– are the Arabs and the Jews. The fact that Arabs in the region are now called Palestinians only exacerbates the issue. Before 1967, the word “Palestinian” simply described inhabitants of Eretz Yisrael also known back then as Palestine. It was then inhabited by Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews. So technically, anytime Israelis and Palestinians are described as the two main protagonists, it is a misnomer and it results in setting-up a false premise. It would then be proper to describe the protagonists in the context of an “Arab/Israeli” conflict.
All sides speak of the obvious need to reconcile and bring peace to the region. CatC claims that the model for that reconciliation is Yeshua and His Gospels, yet the vast majority of the conference is spent describing Israel as the occupier and the enemy. There were so many instances where Israel was called the enemy during CatC, yet no mention was made of Palestinian terrorism, stabbings or any other feats of Islamic terror. They actually even invited a Muslim scholar who is linked to Hamas. CatC’s definition of reconciliation doesn’t seem to include the recognitions of both sides’ shortcomings and really seems to emphasize Israel need to apologize and stop the invasion of “Palestine.”
On a lighter note, I found it very telling that in the name of reconciliation, the only symbol hanging next to the speakers podium was a Palestinian Kaffiyeh (head covering made popular by Yassir Arafat). It would have gone a long way to hang it next to a tallit (Jewish prayer shawl) as a symbolic picture of reconciliation. Additionally, the worship sessions included songs in English and Arabic. It would have also shown good intentions if they had included some of the lyrics in Hebrew. Even the CatC website only exists in English and Arabic.
To an extent, I can understand that people living in the Middle East and having been brought up in a culture that is vastly antisemitic could have a hard time accepting Israel right to exist and right to the land. I don’t share their views but I understand that they can have them. What baffles me is the involvement of evangelical Christians–once supporters of Israel– such as Fuller Seminary Mark Labberton or “Bible Answer Man” Hank Haneggraff. Mr Haneggraff’s presentation was a disgrace. His unbiblical approach to the issue at hand and his vitriolic description of Zionism and Christian Zionism was borderline antisemitic and certainly in line with the conference’s philosophy. I have yet to find anything in Mr. Haneggraff’s message that would encourage anybody towards proper reconciliation. He was joined by a plethora of speakers from all theological perspectives with only one common goal: the demonization of Israel. It was Christian Palestinianism at its scariest best!
For the honest viewer who respects the Word of God, the veneer of reconciliation and fight against extremism wasn’t very hard to peel. Once that done, it was easy to see that Christ at the Checkpoint is indeed interested in reconciliation, as long as by it they mean Israel’s unilateral apology for its “crimes” against Palestinians, Israel relinquishing the “occupied” land of Palestine and further submitting to the regional demands by its Arabs neighbors. As a one way street, this has nothing of a true reconciliation. So at the end of the day, Christ at the Checkpoint was really more of a “Crisis at the Checkpoint.” Evangelicals should have nothing to do with such a farce!