Friday, 11 December 2009
The Rev Slams His Critics
Rev Dr Simon Perry responded to those who criticised his church’s decision to go ahead on 1 December with a Carol Service in aid of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. You can read the full text of his response to the too-many-to-answer-personally critics here
This week has been extremely busy so there have been no musings for a few days. Still, I could not let Simon Perry’s response go unanswered. So, here is my letter to him.
Like you, I receive many e-mails and due to this week being extremely busy, this is the first opportunity I have had to address the post on your blog relating to last week’s PSC Carol concert. I hope my e-mail was one of the “polite” ones so, in the same spirit, I would like to respond to the “distinctions” you draw, all of which appear to me superficial and inadequate. I will [set your “distinctions” in bold] and respond to them. You state:
According to the Israeli Government, the fatalities on either side were as follows: 1166 Palestinians.13 Israelis (including 3 civilians, and 4 victims of ‘friendly fire’.)
This is a disparity of roughly 100:1. If, from a humanitarian perspective, we invest our solidarity with the victims of such violence in an even-handed way, then Palestinians deserve roughly 100 times as much support as Israel.
If my figures or calculations are incorrect, or if this is not a fair reflection of recent conflicts, I would be grateful to hear more from you. Otherwise, I ask you that you respect our right to show support for the victims of violence, which we try to do, regardless of their nation, race or religion, regardless of the root cause of that violence.
I find this over-simplistic canon of determining right and wrong bizarre, especially coming from a Christian minister. Does it not matter that a systematic assault on Israel had been taking place for the three years after Israel ethnically cleansed Gaza of Jews until Israel lost patience and decided to take out Hamas? Before the events of last December and January, 8,000 rockets had been launched from Gaza on the towns of southern Israel. Did Bloomsbury Baptist Church show support for the victims of violence in the southern Israel municipality of Sderot, which was at that time the most bombed town in the world?
To charge the protestors with denying BCBC’s “right to show support for the victims of violence … regardless of the root cause of that violence” suggests your critics have no concern for human suffering. Your “humanitarian concern” was not what generated the demonstration. Jewish people and many Christians were concerned that BCBC hosted an event that hijacked what many people see as the holiest event in the Christian calendar for the purpose of demonising the Jewish state and calling for a boycott of Israeli goods.
The assault on Gaza in 2008 came after three years of extreme provocation. After Israel ethnically cleansed Gaza of its Jewish residents, Hamas rewarded Israel for that costly withdrawal by waging a murderous three-year campaign of firing missiles at the towns of southern cities of Israel, notably Sderot. The fact that after 8,000 missiles landed on Sderot there was so little loss of life was due to the grace of God and the fact that all homes in Sderot have bomb-proof shelters.
The citizens of Sderot received 15-second warnings of rockets falling on their homes, schools and synagogues (and that was only because they could hear the missiles approaching). Civilians in Gaza received warnings from Israel by SMS messaging and leaflet drops two hours before Israeli struck at areas being used to launch rockets. The reason so many civilian men, women and children in Gaza died was because Hamas used so many as human shields. Col Richard Kemp who was Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan has stated that in the history of warfare there has never been a time when an army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the Israel Defence Force did in Gaza.
While you and PSC charge Israel with war crimes, the head of NATO has been studying the tactics and methods of the IDF in order to gain a better understanding of how to deal with the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
The overwhelming majority of those making accusations fail to make at least one of the following very basic distinctions.
1. The distinction between opposing some actions of the state of Israel, and being anti-Semitic.
I think it is more a matter that you fail to distinguish between opposing the state of Israel when it is blameworthy and supporting a group that raises funds for Hamas, a terrorist organisation which in 2007 murdered 31 year-old Rami Ayyad, the manager of the Gaza Bible Bookshop, and is religiously cleansing Gaza of Christians.
The clearly anti-Semitic Hamas Charter states:
Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it. (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory).
The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up.
There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavours.
After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.
Even more ominously, the Charter states:
Moreover, if the links have been distant from each other and if obstacles, placed by those who are the lackeys of Zionism in the way of the fighters obstructed the continuation of the struggle, the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:
"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim).
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign supports Hamas and I can’t believe you were unaware of the links between PSC and Hamas because I understand many people emailed you about the links. But, then, according to you blog, you don’t read all your e-mails.
2. The distinction between supporting the people of Palestine and being active endorsers of all that Hamas stands for.
In the light of the above quote from the Hamas Charter, how can you endorse anything Hamas stands for?
3. The distinction between supporting Palestinian victims and opposing Israeli victims.
You could support non-extremist groups.
4. The distinction between supporting people and being one-sided in our solidarity. (If we are even handed, then even by the State of Israel’s figures, one side deserve a hundred times as much support as the other).
I’ve already dealt with this above.
5. The distinction between a 2 year old girl surrounded by rubble, and a terrorist firing rockets.
Some Hamas operatives would have had no compunction about using that little girl as a human shield to prevent Israel neutralising their rocket installation. Why did Hamas deploy children as shields if they believed the Israelis had no concern for human life? With enemies like that, a Barbie doll would serve just as well.
6. The distinction between one rather racist outsider who apparently turned up to our carol concert, and the spirit of the community that hosted the concert.
A woman told one of the protesters it was a shame Hitler hadn’t killed him and them went into the concert to sing about goodwill toward men (presumably). How can you be so blasé about putting on an event that attracts even one anti-Semite! I would be ashamed to host a church event where such repellent characters would feel comfortable.