It was a delight to support numerous Christian, Jewish and Muslim organisations campaigning for justice, peace and reconciliation in Israel-Palestine, marking the 75th anniversary of the Nakba at the National March in London held on Saturday 13th May. In particular, helping promote the work of Christian ministries, Pax Christi and Amos Trust, as well as the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and the charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).
This is entirely consistent with our charitable purpose of promoting religious harmony for the benefit of the public by promoting knowledge and mutual understanding and respect of the beliefs and practices of different religious faiths – as well as the Mark of Christian Mission “To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation.”
A presentation on Christian Zionism given at the 2023 Oxford Colloquium ’Meeting the Challenge of the Rise in Racialized (White) Christian Nationalism’ at Harris Manchester College, Oxford University, in partnership with the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute
It was a delight to interview Revd Dr Paul McAllister while attending the Oxford Colloquium on Racialised Christian Nationalism held between 20-23 March at Harris Manchester College in Oxford and sponsored by the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute.
“Every time right minded Black South Africans have the opportunity to visit Israel/Palestine, they come away with a profound sense of shock, and it is the shock of recognition, of profound disorientation, of relived trauma: this is apartheid. It is the sense that something as irrelevant as the colour of one’s skin or what is called “racial identity” has condemned you from birth. It is the onslaught upon your dignity through discrimination, a thousand humiliations every day in every imaginable situation, and the relentless, deliberate process of dehumanisation.
It is the sense not only that your very life is being threatened at every turn, but that your life does not matter. It is the ongoing tragedies of dispossession through land theft and forced removals, destruction of property, and devastation of communities, legalised and legitimised by the law and enforced by the violence of the state. It is the myriad ways in which one is told that one has no place in the country of one’s birth. And it is always the violence: systemic, structural, physical, pervasive, and permanent.
Antisemitism is one of the most controversial topics of our time. The public, academics, journalists, activists and Jewish people themselves are divided over its meaning. Antony Lerman shows that this is a result of a 30-year process of redefinition of the phenomenon, casting Israel, problematically defined as the ‘persecuted collective Jew’ among the nations, as one of its main targets.
This political project has taken the notion of the ‘new antisemitism’ and codified it in the flawed International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s ‘working definition’ of antisemitism. This text is the glue holding together an international network comprising the Israeli government, pro-Israel advocacy groups, Zionist organisations, Jewish communal defence bodies and sympathetic governments fighting a war against those who would criticise Israeli Apartheid.
The Revd Prof. Allan Aubrey Boesak, one of South Africa’s leading anti-apartheid campaigners, Professor of Black Liberation Theology and Ethics, University of Pretoria, and President, The Sankofa Institute for Pan African Leadership and Prophetic Ministry, has endorsed the Convivencia Declaration. In his letter to the Conveners he wrote,
I think this is an excellent, and absolutely necessary initiative at a time when the Israeli state is more violently and criminally desperate than ever before, but simultaneously when solidarity with and support for the Palestinian cause seem to finding new allies, despite, and perhaps because of the persistent assaults on Palestinians and their allies within and without the Jewish community.
Yes, you are right. We have long understood that the religious and biblical justification claimed by apartheid constituted a denial and perversion of the most basic tenets for faith and should be declared a heresy. In 1982 the world church joined us and it turned out to be one of the most efficacious actions taken against apartheid. Because we recognise such frightening similarities in the Israeli apartheid State and its pernicious ideologies and actions, I have been arguing for some time now that Christians, at least, should think of the support of Christian, Evangelical, Zionist biblical and theological justifications in the same way. I think this is an important part of the battle and a crucial avenue to pursue. In the World Communion of Reformed Churches we are working towards the same goal.
The Convivencia Alliance also recalls for me the United Democratic Front, the political movement that brought our people together across those artificial barriers of race, religion, colour, culture, and class and that was so successful in its mobilization of people in the struggle for freedom and justice in South Africa, and whose political agenda always included Palestine.Anyway, this is my longwinded way of affirming your recollection of our role in declaring apartheid a heresy, a perversion of the gospel and a blasphemy. I continue to argue that the ability to take a stand in the anti-apartheid struggle in those final stages of the 1980s was the litmus test of our spiritual and political integrity. Such is the case today with the cause of Palestinian justice. So I think that the Convivencia Alliance will be a powerful instrument to put that choice before people at this time. It will be an honour to join others in making a contribution to this worthy cause. Warmest greetings and God’s richest blessings upon you and the important work you are doing, Allan Boesak
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.
Revd Mark Nam shares his personal experiences growing up as a British-Chinese person in the UK and the challenges and opportunities he has faced serving in the Church of England. He also talks about why he founded The Tea House.