Looking Forward to Armageddon? Bath Friends of Palestine Conference: Friday 7th October

Christian Zionism has long been a powerful factor in the creation and maintenance of the state of Israel, but what exactly does it believe?

Dr Stephen Sizer examines the historical roots, theological basis and political agenda of a Bible-based worldview that today defends apartheid, denies justice to the Palestinians and only perpetuates conflict in the Middle East.

To attend this seminar please book your place on Eventbrite.

Bath Friends of Palestine

Glory to God in the Lowest: Dr Donald Wagner

This is a truly inspirational story of how a young conservative white evangelical Christian became a passionate life-long campaigner for Palestinian rights. 

The book reveals the heavy price Don has paid for his commitment to justice, peace and reconciliation. Don clearly stands in the subversive but non-violent tradition of Mohandas Ghandi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandella. 

I simply could not put this book down. It is a compelling, detailed, eye-witness commentary on the unfolding tragedy of Palestine over the past 40 years. It is also a searing indictment of the failure of the West, tragically with the complicity of the Church, to hold Israel accountable to its obligations under international law and repeated UN Resolutions. 

Don does not mince his words, describing Zionism for what it has become, a “brutal Israeli Apartheid-settler colonial regime.” p. 20.

At the same time, the book records the pioneering role Don and others have played in galvanising mainstream Western Christian engagement in the Middle East and in particular, advocating for, and partnering with, Palestinian Christians. 

I have known Don personally for over 25 years and it has been a privilege to accompany him on several significant journeys to Palestine. Indeed, his early writings were the inspiration for my own PhD which examined the history, theology and politics of Christian Zionism. 

Although I am confident this book will sell many copies, I am sure that what matters more to Don will be the extent to which readers are motivated to engage in the struggle for truth, justice and peace. For this is also a practical book. It is a call to action, indeed, a ‘Cry for Hope’. In the concluding chapters Don helpfully draws attention to numerous resources and initiatives which will enable readers to advocate and connect with fellow Christians in Palestine.  

There are so many excellent quotes. I’ll restrain myself to one: “Palestine becomes at once a metaphor and a living reality of a people rising from the ashes of defeat to claim what is rightfully theirs – justice and only justice.” p. 20.

After serving for five years as a pastor in a remarkable Black church, Donald Wagner comes to fully understand the original sin of racism. As his journey continues, he encounters another marginalised people the Palestinians and witnesses their struggle for justice and equality. Touched by their resilience and fight against injustice, he leaves the pastorate to assume full time work as an advocate for Palestinian political and human rights.

The memoir begins in mid-September 1982, with a gut-wrenching day interviewing survivors of the Sabra-Shatila massacre in Lebanon, as they wept and waited for the bodies of family members to be pulled from the rubble. Donald Wagner’s conversation with the local Imam ended with a challenge: You must return home and tell what you have seen. This is all we ask. Go back and tell the truth.” Glory To God in the Lowest is a metaphor for his counter intuitive journey with the victims of the “chosen people” in the “unholy land”.

I am sure I am not alone in acknowledging a deep debt of gratitude to Don for his unflinching example of what it means to follow in the footsteps of Christ.

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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Revd Dave Smith on the Pandemic and Social Justice in Australia

Reverend Dave Smith, also known as Father Dave or the Fighting Father, is an Anglican priest who served as parish priest for 30 years in Sydney’s inner-west. It was here he became known for his work with at-risk youth and was nominated three times for Australian of the Year.

He took up professional boxing in 1996 to help fund his youth programs and is currently Australia’s oldest active professional fighter. Father Dave is also well known for his social justice advocacy and inter-faith work. He is the father of four children and the author of two books, the most recent being “Christians and Muslims can be friends” (2020)

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When Peacemaking is Controversial

Earlier this year the Charity Commission notified our trustees of ‘regulatory concerns’, presumably arising from a complaint, questioning whether some articles on the Peacemaker Trust website, were ‘in line with the advancement of the Christian religion or promotion of religious harmony’

The trustees responded by pointing out that the Church of England, and many other Christian denominations, define ‘the advancement of the Christian religion’ in terms of the ‘Five Marks of Mission’These include the aim of seeking “to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.” 

The trustees emphasized that “We understand our charitable purposes in these terms and seek to be catalysts for peacemaking, especially where minorities are persecuted, where justice is denied, human rights are suppressed or reconciliation is needed.”

They referred to a quote by John Stott found on our website

“The incentive to peacemaking is love, but it degenerates into appeasement whenever justice is ignored. To forgive and to ask for forgiveness are both costly exercises. All authentic Christian peacemaking exhibits the love and justice – and so the pain – of the cross.” 

They concluded that “Dr Sizer’s stance in challenging racism, segregation and apartheid, based on non-violence and international law, is intended to advance an orthodox presentation of the Christian religion and promote religious harmony, by supporting justice, peace and reconciliation. This, in the opinion of the trustees, clearly falls within our charitable purposes.”

The trustees are grateful that the Charity Commission responded:

Thank you for the comprehensive response you have provided to our letter; the Commission are satisfied with the assurances provided by The Trustees and no further engagement is needed.”

Southampton Peace Vigil for Ukraine Videos

Many people in Southampton joined together at the Peace Vigil for Ukraine in Guildhall Square last Friday evening, 11th March, which was addressed by religious and civic community leaders.

The Mayor of Southampton, Councillor Alex Houghton welcomed people and said “it’s truly humbling to see how the people of Southampton, including those with Polish, Ukrainian and Russian connections, have come together to help the people of Ukraine.”

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Surfers Not Street Children

We are delighted to share the new Surfers not Street Children video.

Tom Hewitt writes, I am so excited to share with you our exclusive new film with world surfing legend Jordy Smith and O’Neill. Both Jordy and O’Neill have been supporting us for a number of years and we are so grateful to them for raising awareness of our vital work and directly helping us. This is the first in a series of fundraising and awareness activities together this year and I am delighted to share it with you. Enjoy!”

Tom Hewitt MBE
Founder and Global CEO

Read more about Surfers not Street Children

In this brief interview, recorded in July last year, Tom Hewitt gives an update on the work of Surfers Not Street Children in the light of the recent civil unrest in South Africa.

Rifat Kassis Joins Peacemaker’s Board of Reference

We are delighted that Rifat Odeh Kassis has agreed to join our international Board of Reference.

Rifat is the General Coordinator of Kairos Palestine and Global Kairos for Justice, being one of its founding members. He co-authored the Kairos Palestine documents ‘A Moment of Truth: A Word of Faith, Hope and Love from the Heart of Palestinian Suffering’, ‘Kairos for Palestine’ and ‘Cry for Hope’: A Call for Decisive Action.

Rifat Kassis was born in Beit Sahour and for more than twenty five years has been a leading figure and expert in the Palestinian, regional and international child rights community. 

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