Dr Jeff Halper (ICAHD) on Religious Tribunals

As an Israeli Jew and the head of an Israeli human rights organization – ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – I am appalled by the very thought of bringing anyone, let alone such a principled person as Stephen Sizer, before a religious Tribunal. What, are we back to the Medieval days of the Inquisition? I can’t speak for the Church of England, but Jews, the British Board of Deputies, participating in a religious Tribunal?! The very thought is appalling. What has happened to us, Jews and Christians together? Are we willing to return to the dark processes of Tribunals with no legal underpinnings, no genuine evidence or testimony, conducted solely against people whose views we don’t like – besmirch and destroy people’s lives – just to prevent criticism of Israel? Is it really so easy, in the 21st Century, to persecute people for their religious and political views? Savonarola meets Trump?

The charges against Dr. Sizer are untrue and trumped-up – and you all know it. Antisemitism?! How do you possibly defend yourself against such a charge? In the intellectual and democratic world in which most of us live, Dr. Sizer has made a rational, well-researched case for his views and analysis presented in articles, books and lectures based firmly on academic research and religious history. But that is exactly the type of person for which Tribunals are necessary, since analyses like Dr. Sizer presents, unpopular in some partisan circles as they may be, cannot be dismissed in academic circles or barred in courts of law. They must be denounced in Tribunals with no moral, legal or intellectual authority, and as in all religious Tribunals, the person maligned and destroyed in order to somehow delegitimize his or her views. I am embarrassed for all of you – and downright angry at the Jews who participate in the dark proceeding of religious Tribunals.

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Book Aid: Remembering Bishop John Ellison

Yesterday I collected about 15 boxes of Christian literature for Book Aid from the Oasis Christian Centre in Romsey which acts as a hub for donations from customers. We then take on to Book Aid’s regional hub in Southsea.

Last week I also received a collection of theological books donated from the estate of the Right Revd John Ellison, former Anglican Bishop of Paraguay 1988-2007 who died in 2019. John had been a good friend, an occasional preacher at Christ Church, Virginia Water, and more recently, a member of the Peacemakers International Board of Reference. We are grateful to John’s family for some of his theological books donated to Book Aid. Andrew Symes wrote a moving testimony to John’s life and ministry for Anglican Mainstream. In these two short videos I interviewed Bishop John about the state of the Episcopal Church in North America and the Church of England.

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Archbishop Mouneer Anis on the Centre for Christian Muslim Understanding and Partnership

An interview with Archbishop Mouneer Anis, First Archbishop of the Anglican Province of Alexandria, about the launch of the Centre for Christian Muslim Understanding and Partnership at All Saints Cathedral in Cairo this week. The vision is to promote peace and harmony between faith communities through more understanding of faiths, cultures and through working together for the common good.

The Episcopal/Anglican Diocese of Egypt played an important role in the drafting of the interfaith agreement between the Anglican Communion and Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, signed in 2002 at Lambeth Palace in London. Since then, the Diocese and Al-Azhar have worked together on many community projects through Egypt, and have arranged and participated in an annual dialogue meeting.

The Centre for Christian-Muslim Understanding and Partnership was established in order to bring these projects together in one organisation, in order to further develop and resource this vital work in the future. The idea for such a centre was developed and supported by the Anglican Archbishop of Alexandria, the Most Rev. Dr. Samy Fawzy Shehata, and His Eminence, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al-Tayyeb. Archbishop Samy then asked Archbishop Emeritus Mouneer Anis to develop the centre and serve as its first director.

See also Egypt’s Anglicans Offer Challenge to Intolerance

Carlisle Diocese Endorses Kairos ‘Cry for Hope’ in Support of Palestinian Christians

Carlisle Diocese passes historic motion endorsing the Kairos, ‘Cry for Hope’ in support of Palestinian Christians.

On Saturday 9th of October 60 members of the Church of England gathered together under the leadership of the Bishop of Carlisle, The Rt Revd James Newcome for their autumn Diocesan Synod meeting. Members included clergy and lay people. On their agenda was a motion passed by Solway Deanery, calling on the Church of England to be more proactive in its support and solidarity with Palestinian Christians.The motion, presented by Solway Deanery member Valerie Hallard, read as follows:

That This Synod:
• Endorses the “Cry for Hope” expressed by Palestinian Christians and the ‘Global Kairos for Justice’ coalition (GKfJ);
• Requests that the Faith and Order Commission produce a report which analyses and refutes any theological justifications, for example, those promoted by some Christian Zionists, for the oppression of Palestinians;
• Instructs the Ethical Investment Advisory Group to provide guidance to the National Investing Bodies (NIBs) and Dioceses that will enable them to screen their investments and thereby make decisions regarding engagement with, and divestment from, companies which profit from the occupation.

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Bishop Azad Marshall elected as Moderator of the Church of Pakistan

Bishop Azad Marshall of the Diocese of Raiwind has been unanimously elected Moderator of the Church of Pakistan (The Anglican Church of Pakistan became the United Church when it merged with three other denominations in 1970). This position has a three year term. He succeeds Bishop Humphrey Peters. Bishop Azad is also a valued member of the Peacemaker International Board of Reference.

In December 2016, Bishop Azad was honoured by the government of Pakistan for his work on human rights. He was one of 40 recipients of awards last weekend to mark International Human Rights Day. Bishop Azad received the Presidential Award for Human Rights from the President of Pakistan, Muhammad Mamnoon Hussain, during an award ceremony at the President’s House.

Bishop Azad is the President of National Council of Churches in Pakistan. “He has no doubt a long and continuous record of contributing to educational development and human rights in Pakistan,” a statement from the Diocese of Raiwind said. “We congratulate him and pray for his continuous ministry in Pakistan and beyond.”

The diocese thanked the Pakistan government “for recognising and nominating distinguished citizens committed to upholding the poor and the marginalized [and] for upholding their human rights.”

President Muhammad Mamnoon Hussain presents the human rights award to Bishop Azad Marshall

Immediate reversal of the unjust deportation of Wendy Hough

Dear Prime Minister and Ministers of the Turkish Cypriot Cabinet,

We, the undersigned, are appealing to you to immediately reverse the deportation of the British citizen Reverend Wendy Hough from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

On the 11th of December, two immigration officers arrived at Wendy’s home. She was taken from everything she owns, thrown in a rancid cell during a global pandemic and separated from her family. For five months she has been stranded at the border in the Republic of Cyprus (ROC). She bought her only home, investing all that she has into it. She has no other home to go to, has only survived financially with support from a global group of friends and is experiencing emotional distress.

TRNC Immigration claims she overstayed a three-day visa, about which she knew nothing, two weeks prior to the start of lockdown in February 2020 whilst at the time she was applying for residency. 

Wendy is a respected member of the community in the TRNC. She was appointed, in 2014, to be the priest of the English Church in Kyrenia, and stepped back from her position in 2018, to better serve the Turkish Cypriot Community. 

We ask that she is able to return home without further delay.

Please sign the petition here

Please leave a comment and also add your position or title and country as this will help give international weight to the petition.

Contribute toward Wendy’s appeal costs here

Revd Bassi Mirzania Recognised in the 2021 Lambeth Awards

We are delighted that the Revd Bassi Mirzania has received the Alphege Award for Evangelism and Witness from the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 2021 Lambeth Awards. The citation reads, “For her nearly 20 years’ tireless and exceptional service as founding Chaplain to the Persian/Iranian community in Great Britain.”

After more than 20 years’ service in the social responsibility departments of the Dioceses of London and Guildford, Bassi sensed a call to leave paid employment to focus on ministering to Iranians in the UK. Large numbers of Christians in the Persian community were turning to her for help with worship and training, discipling new converts and practical matters such as asylum applications.

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Ancestral Journeys and Western Missions by Anita Damiani-Shanley

Like other Western colonial-settler experiments, for over 70 years, Zionists have been systematically erasing the culture and history of indigenous Palestinians to justify their forced removal and the theft of their land. Ilan Pappe, in his book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, calls this ‘memorocide’ and in The Palestine Nakba, Nur Masalha elaborates, 

“The founding myths of Israel have dictated the conceptual removal of Palestinians before, during and after their physical removal in 1948… The de-Arabisation of Palestine, the erasure of Palestinian history and the elimination of the Palestinian’s collective memory by the Israeli state are no less violent than the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948 and the destruction of historic Palestine.”

This is why books such as Ancestral Journeys and Western Missions are so vital in recording the memories and eyewitness accounts of Arabs and Palestinians who experienced the arrival of Western colonialists to the Middle East, were co-opted into their wars, witnessed the rise of Zionism and then became refugees in the Palestinian Nakba.  Anita Damiani-Shanley’s book will most certainly help perpetuate their heritage and rightful historic claim to Palestine.

Ancestral Journeys is however much more than the story of two families, one Arab and the other Scottish joined in marriage. It traces the influence of missionaries, archaeologists, traders and colonialists competing with each other for a share of the Near East as the Ottoman Empire met its demise. Richly illuminated with family photos, the three main chapters trace the ancestral journeys of Damiani-Shanley’s extended family from Scotland and Lebanon to Iraq and then to Palestine. A fourth chapter traces the role of the Anglican Church in Palestine.  

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THIS IS THE HOLY LAND (Exodus 3:5). IT NEEDS JUSTICE AND ONLY JUSTICE

A Statement by three former Heads of Churches in Jerusalem on the Israeli Annexation plans

“Grace and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ. Greetings from the Land of the Holy One, Israel and Palestine.

The Holy Land is in fire, in a situation of war, and needs to be restored to its holiness. It is full of human sufferings, because justice is absent. The land of God calls on all churches, governments, and people of good will, to act and put an end to this tragedy. All believers are responsible. 

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