Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Amnesty International Report on Water in Palestine from Stephen Sizer on Vimeo.
In this Premier Radio programme with John Pantry, Geoffrey Smith of Christian Friends of Israel and I debate the merits of the Amnesty International Report published today (27 October).
Amnesty International has accused Israel of denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over shared water resources and pursuing discriminatory policies.
He insisted that the Turkey-Israel strategic alliance – which some AKP insiders have said privately is over – remains alive but chided the Israeli foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who he said had threatened to use nuclear weapons against Gaza.'threatened to use nuclear weapons against Gaza?' Not surprisingly the Israeli press picked up on the comment.
See Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post which both make what appears in the Guardian article, a 'throw away' comment, their headline.
With the demographic time bomb ticking, nuking Gaza would certainly be one way to keep an Israeli majority between the Mediterranean and Jordan. Jeff Gates over at Veterans Today points out,
"The threat to Israel is not the 1.5 million Gazans who reside in the world’s largest open-air prison. The threat is the fast-growing global outrage at the abuse inflicted on Palestinians..."Intentionally or otherwise Lieberman is playing into the hands of Christian Zionists like John Hagee who are it seems 'anxious for armageddon'. At the July 19th, 2006 Washington DC inaugural event for Christians United for Israel, after hearing recorded greeting from George W. Bush, and in the presence of US Senators and Israeli ambassador to the US, Hagee stated :
The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West… a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ.
Watch CBS Videos Online
Adam Horowitz over on Mondoweiss has done his maths. There are now, according to the US 2009 International Religious Freedom Report, more Palestinians than Jews living between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan. That gives Israel one big headache if it wants to portray itself as a 'western' style democracy and also continue to occupy the Golan and West Bank.
State’s International Religious Freedom Report 2009 doesn’t say it that way, but if you skim the report and do the math you’ll see there are more Palestinians than Jews between the river and the sea. 5.735 million to 5.6 million. We have a democracy problem here. It’s the huge elephant in the room. (And I think J Street knows it.)Israel really only has three options: ethnic cleansing, apartheid or democracy. Philip Weiss observes,
Bob Simon's 60 Minutes piece on the two-state solution finally aired and it was a doozy. If Abe Foxman was pissed at Bill Moyers he surely had a coronary after watching this.
Like a child with its hand stuck in a sweet jar, Israel wants three but can only have two.
Option 1: The One State Solution
Israel can annexe the Occupied Territories and give all Palestinians equal rights with Jewish Israelis but it would have to amend its constitution and cease being a Zionist State (its important to distinguish between Judaism which is a religion and Zionism which is a political system – the two are not synonymous). That is not going to happen in the short term but its possible in the long term that by mutual agreement some kind of ‘federation’ may emerge between Israel, Palestine and Jordan, for example, of the kind that has occured in the European Community.
Option 2: The Two State Solution
Israel can remain a Zionist State and a democracy but to enjoy both it must give up the aspirations of Eretz Israel – the ‘greater’ Israel and withdraw from the Golan Heights, Gaza and the West Bank to the internationally recognised borders (The 1949 Armistice line, aka the green Line assumed in UN Resolution 242). This is the position favoured by the international community as expressed in the Roadmap for Peace, Annapolis Agreement and latest Quartet Statement and UN Resolution 1850.
Option 3: The Apartheid State Solution
Israel can remain a Zionist state and build yet more settlements on confiscated land in the Occupied Territories and Golan. To do so, however, it must also continue to control the lives of Palestinians by military force. But accepting or justifying the present status quo is incompatible with being a Western-styled democracy, something Jimmy Carter has warned of.
Monday, 26 October 2009
Israeli settlers enjoy lush lawns and swimming pools while Palestinians reduced to a trickle of water
In a new report published today (27 October) Amnesty International has accused Israel of denying Palestinians the right to access adequate water by maintaining total control over shared water resources and pursuing discriminatory policies.
Amnesty’s 112-page report - Troubled Waters: Palestinians denied fair access to water - shows how Israel uses over 80% of the water from the Mountain Aquifer, the main source of underground water in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), while restricting Palestinian access to a mere 20%. The Mountain Aquifer is the only source of water for Palestinians in the West Bank, but only one of several for Israel, which also takes all the water available from the Jordan River.
On average, Palestinian daily water consumption barely reaches 70 litres per person a day, while Israeli daily consumption is more than 300 litres per day - four times as much. In some rural communities Palestinians survive on barely 20 litres per day, the minimum amount recommended by aid organisations for domestic use in emergency situations.
Some 180,000-200,000 Palestinians living in rural communities have no access to running water and the Israeli army often prevents them from even collecting rainwater. In contrast, Israeli settlers, who live in the West Bank in violation of international law, have intensive-irrigation farms, lush gardens and swimming pools. Numbering about 450,000, the settlers use as much or more water than the entire Palestinian population of some 2.3 million.
Amnesty International Israel and the OPT researcher Donatella Rovera said
“Israel allows the Palestinians access to only a fraction of the shared water resources, which lie mostly in the occupied West Bank, while the unlawful Israeli settlements there receive virtually unlimited supplies. In Gaza the Israeli blockade has made an already dire situation worse.
“Over more than 40 years of occupation, restrictions imposed by Israel on the Palestinians’ access to water have prevented the development of water infrastructure and facilities in the OPT, consequently denying hundreds of thousand of Palestinians the right to live a normal life, to have adequate food, housing, or health, and to economic development.
“Water is a basic need and a right, but for many Palestinians obtaining even poor-quality subsistence-level quantities of water has become a luxury that they can barely afford.
“Israel must end its discriminatory policies, immediately lift all the restrictions it imposes on Palestinians’ access to water, and take responsibility for addressing the problems it created by allowing Palestinians a fair share of the shared water resources.”
As Amnesty’s report makes clear, in the Gaza Strip 90-95% of the water from its only water resource - the Coastal Aquifer - is contaminated and unfit for human consumption. Yet, Israel does not allow the transfer of water from the Mountain Aquifer in the West Bank to Gaza.
Meanwhile, stringent restrictions imposed in recent years by Israel on the entry into Gaza of material and equipment necessary for the development and repair of infrastructure, have caused further deterioration of the water and sanitation situation in Gaza, which has now reached crisis point.
To cope with water shortages and lack of network supplies many Palestinians have to purchase water - of often dubious quality - from mobile water tankers at a much higher price. Others resort to water-saving measures which are detrimental to their and their families’ health and which hinder socio-economic development.
Troubled Waters explains that Israel has appropriated large areas of the water-rich Palestinian land it occupies and barred Palestinians from accessing them. In the West Bank and East Jerusalem it has also imposed a complex system of permits which the Palestinians must obtain from the Israeli army and other authorities in order to carry out water-related projects in the OPT. Applications for such permits are often rejected or subject to long delays.
Restrictions imposed by Israel on the movement of people and goods in the OPT further compound the difficulties Palestinians face when trying to carry out water and sanitation projects, or even when just distributing small quantities of water. Water tankers are forced to take long detours to avoid Israeli military checkpoints and roads which are out of bounds to Palestinians, resulting in steep increases in the price of water.
In rural areas, Palestinian villagers are continuously struggling to find enough water for their basic needs, as the Israeli army often destroys their rainwater harvesting cisterns and confiscates their water tankers. In comparison, in nearby Israeli settlements, irrigation sprinklers water the fields in the midday sun, where much water is wasted as it evaporates before even reaching the ground.
In some Palestinian villages, because their access to water has been so severely restricted, farmers are unable to cultivate the land, or even to grow small amounts of food for their personal consumption or for animal fodder, and have thus been forced to reduce the size of their herds.
Read more here
Download the Amnesty Report here
See also Donald McIntyre in the Independent
Bishop Michael is not becoming a Roman Catholic. He intends to continue as a bishop in the Church of England and to encourage orthodox people, evangelical and catholic, in the world-wide Anglican Communion. As a long standing member of both ARCIC (Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission) and IARCCUM (International Anglican Roman Catholic Commission on Unity and Mission), he prays for principled unity based on the Bible and theological agreement between the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches. He believes that such unity may be achieved through continuing dialogue.
Distributed by Andrew Boyd
Press Secretary to Bishop Michael
From the Global South Primates Steering Committee
1. We, under-shepherds of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of Jesus Christ, bring greetings to the faithful in the Anglican Communion. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
For in his great love for us, we are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2: 19-22).
2. The Vatican announcement on Apostolic Constitution (Note of The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith about Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering the Catholic Church) gives us an occasion in making the following pastoral exhortation.
3. We welcome Pope Benedict XVI’s stance on the common biblical teaching on human sexuality, and the commitment to continuing ecumenical dialogue.
4. At the same time we believe that the proposed Anglican Covenant sets the necessary parameters in safeguarding the catholic and apostolic faith and order of the Communion. It gives Anglican churches worldwide a clear and principled way forward in pursuing God’s divine purposes together in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church of Jesus Christ. We urge churches in the Communion to actively work together towards a speedy adoption of the Covenant.
5. In God’s gracious purposes the Anglican Communion has moved beyond the historical beginnings and expressions of English Christianity into a worldwide Communion, of which the Church of England is a constitutive part. In view of the global nature of the Communion, matters of faith and order would inevitably have serious ramifications for the continuing well-being and coherence of the Communion as a whole, and not only for Provinces of the British Isles and The Episcopal Church in the USA. We urge the Archbishop of Canterbury to work in close collegial consultation with fellow Primates in the Communion, act decisively on already agreed measures in the Primates’ Meetings, and exercise effective leadership in nourishing the flock under our charge, so that none would be left wandering and bereft of spiritual oversight.
6. As Primates of the Communion and guardians of the catholic and apostolic faith and order, we stand in communion with our fellow bishops, clergy and laity who are steadfast in the biblical teaching against the ordination of openly homosexual clergy, the consecration of such to the episcopate, and the blessing of homosexual partnerships. We also urge them, as fellow Anglicans, to continue to stand firm with us in cherishing the Anglican heritage, in pursuing a common vocation, in expressing our unity and common life, and in maintaining our covenanted life together.
7. In the closing words of the Anglican Covenant: With joy and with firm resolve, we offer ourselves for fruitful service and binding ourselves more closely in the truth and love of Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be glory for ever. Amen. “Now may the God of Peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13.20, 21)
25th October 2009
Global South Primates Steering Committee:
President: The Most Revd Peter J. Akinola, Nigeria
General Secretary: The Most Revd John Chew, Southeast Asia
Treasurer: The Most Revd Mouneer Anis, Jerusalem and the Middle East.
Members: The Most Revd Emmanuel Kolini, Rwanda
The Most Revd Stephen Than Myint Oo, Myanmar
See Global South
"Arab leaders said on Sunday that the Middle East peace process was in danger of collapse after Israeli forces twice stormed Jerusalem's holiest shrine to battle stone-throwing Palestinian protesters.
The government of Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, told Israel its actions risked crossing "a red line". Jordan issued a demand for an immediate end to Israeli police incursions into the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's walled old city.
The violence appeared to have been provoked by rumours that Right-wing Jewish activists were planning to gather in the compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount, where the two Jewish temples of antiquity are believed to have been built.
While one radical group did make such a call, mainstream Jewish religious leaders have forbidden their followers from entering the compound.
Israeli police, who did not enter the Al-Aqsa mosque, said they had no option but to enter the compound after Palestinian demonstrators threw stones at visitors to the shrine. The Israeli forces responded to the stone-throwing with rubber bullets and stun grenades. Nine Israeli police officers and 24 Palestinians were reportedly injured.
The confrontation was the most serious in a month of clashes around the compound, which houses the mosque and the Dome of the Rock. There were also reports of clashes in the occupied West Bank, the first such incidents since the violence began.
"Such dangerous provocations obstruct chances for peace and stability in the region," said Nabil Sharif, the Jordanian information minister. "They are illegal. They would create more violence and tension."
The Saudi-based Organisation of the Islamic Conference said it would call an extraordinary meeting in Jeddah next weekend to discuss the Israeli action."
Sunday, 25 October 2009
According to the BBC, The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill, said Christians should wear them at work and not be intimidated into putting them away. He also criticised councils which tried to "rebrand Christmas" for fear of offending other religions. Such decisions were made out of "sheer ignorance," he said.
"Ethnic minorities are far more anxious about the rampant secularism and commercialism that erodes all Christian standards than they are about their host country properly celebrating its Christian foundations," he said.
"If the conviction of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is just, then the motivation almost certainly was that Libya, led by Col Muammar Gaddafi, wanted to strike against its then western enemies. But many relatives suspect it is more likely that Iran was seeking revenge for the shooting-down of Iran Air Flight 655, with the loss of 290 lives, by the USS Vincennes in July 1988 — just five months before Lockerbie. Iran did not accept America’s claim that it was a mistake."
Read more hereIn August 2009, the Times newspaper alleged that 'US Spies blamed Iran for Lockerbie bomb"
"American intelligence documents blaming Iran for the Lockerbie bombing would have been produced in court if the Libyan convicted of Britain’s worst terrorist attack had not dropped his appeal... The cables, from the American Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), suggest that Iran was behind the attack on Pan Am flight 103, which killed 270 people in 1988, in response to the shooting down of an Iranian commercial airliner by the USS Vincennes, an American warship, five months earlier. One document that the defence team had planned to produce was a memo from the DIA dated September 24, 1989. It states: “The bombing of the Pan Am flight was conceived, authorised and financed by Ali-Akbar (Mohtashemi-Pur), the former Iranian minister of interior.“The execution of the operation was contracted to Ahmad (Jabril), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP-GC) leader, for a sum of 1,000,000 US dollars... Robert Baer, a retired senior CIA agent who claims that Iran was behind the attack, has alleged that the Americans were wary of pursuing the country in case it disrupted oil supplies and damaged the economy."Read more here
Hugh Miles, writing in the Independent raised the question back in December 2008.
"If Megrahi didn't do it, who did? Some time ago suspicion fell on a gang headed by a convicted Palestinian terrorist named Abu Talb and a Jordanian triple agent named Marwan Abdel Razzaq Khreesat. Both were Iranian agents; Khreesat was also on the CIA payroll. Abu Talb was given lifelong immunity from prosecution in exchange for his evidence at the Lockerbie trial; Marwan Khreesat was released for lack of evidence by German police even though a barometric timer of the type used to detonate the bomb on Pan Am Flight 103 was found in his car when he was arrested.
Three months after the bombing, Dumfries and Galloway police published a report on Lockerbie that concluded: "There can be little doubt that Khreesat is the bomb-maker for the [Palestinian group] PFLP-GC, and there is a possibility he prepared the explosive device which destroyed Pan Am Flight 103. As such he should not be at liberty."
Read more here.Not surprisingly, given the amount of skulduggery that has swirled around Lockerbie over the past 20 years, conspiracy theories related to the case have bloomed. Some believe that the CIA deliberately framed Libya so Syria would fight in the first Gulf War. Others suspect Lockerbie to be linked to drug smuggling, arms shipments and Iranian hostage negotiations."
Hugh Miles concludes "Short of an unexpected confession, Lockerbie will likely remain one of those great, unsolved political whodunnits, like the assassination of JFK."
Perhaps it will but somehow I don't think so. With diplomatic pressure and UN backed sanctions against Iran's nuclear programme failing to deliver the goods, I wonder whether new Lockerbie 'revelations' will provide the justification for a military response from Israel and/or the USA?
In Newsweek last month, David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, was interviewed about Lockerbie, Iran and Palestine. The article is headed, "Iran has a very clear choice. Britain's foreign secretary on nuclear proliferation and the Lockerbie bomber" In a comment following the article someone has left this prediction:
"America doesn't have to worry about Iran, Israel will handle that little problem for us! Tick, tock less than two years and counting, those bunker busters we sold them were a bargin and will make for the sweetest of party favors for the coming events! hopefully the Israelis will kill a minimum of 5 million to make a sort of statement."And Saudi Arabia has, according to Aljazeera and Iranian Press TV, given Israel permission to cross its air space when (not if) they attack Iran.
Watch this space.
Following the Vatican’s historic announcement this week at joint Press Conferences in Rome and London, which took Dr Rowan Williams by surprise, the Revd Paul Perkin, vicar of St Mark’s Church, Battersea Rise in London, and Chairman of FCA (UK and Ireland) said the FCA could turn out to be the ‘glue’ which the Archbishop could use to hold the Church together.
He said: “There are now apparently two options for Anglicans concerned about the liberal revisionist drift: leave and go to Rome, or stay and work together with Lambeth for an internal solution: a single provision to cover a range of concerns.
In an interview with Al Jazeera's Shihab Rattansi, Justice Richard Goldstone challenged the US government to justify its claims that his findings are flawed and biased.
Goldstone said the attacks on him have become personal and he believes most critics have not even read the report.
See the Goldstone Report here
By an overwhelming margin, the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina votes to withdraw from the councils of The Episcopal Church. The break-up of The Episcopal Church continues, bit by bit. By an overwhelming margin today, the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina voted to:
"... authorize the Bishop and Standing Committee to begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church that have assented to actions contrary to Holy Scripture, the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them, the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference which have expressed the mind of the Communion, the Book of Common Prayer and our Constitution and Canons, until such bodies show a willingness to repent of such actions ...Canon Theologian for the Diocese, the Rev'd Canon Kendall Harmon reported to ENS that in a vote by orders, clergy approved 87-17 with one abstention a second resolution authorizing the bishop and standing committee to begin withdrawing from all bodies of the Episcopal Church, while in the lay order, votes were tallied according to delegations of parishes and missions, Harmon said. Parishes voted 39 to 8 in favor of the resolution; 13 out of 16 mission delegations approved it.
Read more here
Archbishop George Carey was my former theological college Principal and a great support in my early post-graduate research. It is heartening to see him speak out on theological, moral and political issues. Would that more Church leaders did so.
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey has urged Christians to "stand shoulder to shoulder" in rejecting the British National Party.
He told the News of the World the party's leader was a "squalid racist".
It was "chilling" to hear Nick Griffin claim to represent "Christian Britain" on BBC One's Question Time, he added.
The paper's poll of 504 people found a third backed the BNP policy that UK-born ethnic minorities should lose all benefits to pay for them to leave.
The survey also found that almost two-thirds felt the mainstream parties had no credible policies on immigration.
The ICM research was based on interviews with a random sample of adults on 23 and 24 October.
The BBC has handed the BNP the gift of the century on a plate
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain
In the newspaper interview, Lord Carey accused the BNP leader of trying to "hijack one of the world's great religions" and said the decision to invite him on to the BBC's flagship political discussion programme had been "a mistake".
"To hear the phrase 'Christian Britain' coming from the mouth of Nick Griffin made me shudder. It was the most chilling moment of Question Time, perhaps better described as the Nick Griffin Show," he said.
"And what a pity that none of the other panellists challenged Griffin's deceitful attempt to align his despicable policies with Christianity."
He called on "all Christians to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in rejection of Griffin's notion that 'Christianity' has any place in his bigotry".
Lord Carey said other parties needed to deal with the issue of immigration in a balanced and firm way or the BNP would "feed off the anger of citizens of all races and religions".
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Judge Richard Goldstone has robustly defended his UN Report of War Crimes committed in Gaza in a weekend article in the Jerusalem Post.
"Five weeks after the release of the Report of the Fact Finding Mission on Gaza, there has been no attempt by any of its critics to come to grips with its substance. It has been fulsomely approved by those whose interests it is thought to serve and rejected by those of the opposite view. Those who attack it do so too often by making personal attacks on its authors' motives and those who approve it rely on its authors' reputations.
Israeli government spokesmen and those who support them have attacked it in the harshest terms and, in particular my participation, in a most personal and hurtful way. The time has now come for more sober reflection on what the report means and appropriate Israeli reactions to it.
I begin with my own motivation, as a Jew who has supported Israel and its people all my life, for having agreed to head the Gaza mission. Over the past 20 years, I have investigated serious violations of international law in my own country, South Africa, in the former Yugoslavia, in Rwanda and the alleged fraud and theft by governments and political leaders in a number of countries in connection with the United Nations Iraq Oil for Food program. In all of these, allegations reached the highest political echelons. In every instance, I spoke out strongly in favor of full investigations and, where appropriate, criminal prosecutions. I have spoken out over the years on behalf of the International Bar Association against human rights violations in many countries, including Sri Lanka, China, Russia, Iran, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.
I would have been acting against those principles and my own convictions and conscience if I had refused a request from the United Nations to investigate serious allegations of war crimes against both Israel and Hamas in the context of Operation Cast Lead.
AS A Jew, I felt a greater and not a lesser obligation to do so. It is well documented that as a condition of my participation I insisted upon and received an evenhanded mandate to investigate all sides and that is what we sought to do.
I sincerely believed that because of my own record and the terms of the mission's mandate we would receive the cooperation of the Israeli government. Its refusal to cooperate was a grave error. My plea for cooperation was repeated before and during the investigation and it sits, plain as day, in the appendices of the Gaza report for those who actually bother to read it. Our mission obviously could only consider and report on what it saw, heard and read. If the government of Israel failed to bring facts and analyses to our attention, we cannot fairly be blamed for the consequences. Those who feel that our report failed to give adequate attention to specific incidents or issues should be asking the Israeli government why it failed to argue its cause.
Israel missed a golden opportunity to actually have a fair hearing from a UN-sponsored inquiry. Of course, I was aware of and have frequently spoken out against the unfair and exceptional treatment of Israel by the UN and especially by the Human Rights Council.
I did so again last week. Israel could have seized the opportunity provided by the even-handed mandate of our mission and used it as a precedent for a new direction by the United Nations in the Middle East. Instead, we were shut out.
As I stated in response to a recent letter from the mayor of Sderot, I believed strongly that our mission should have been allowed to visit Sderot and other parts of southern Israel that have been at the receiving end of unlawful attacks by many thousands of rockets and mortars fired at civilian targets by Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza. We were prevented from doing so by, what I believe, was a misguided decision by the Israeli government.
In Gaza, I was surprised and shocked by the destruction and misery there. I had not expected it. I did not anticipate that the IDF would have targeted civilians and civilian objects. I did not anticipate seeing the vast destruction of the economic infrastructure of Gaza including its agricultural lands, industrial factories, water supply and sanitation works. These are not military targets. I have not heard or read any government justification for this destruction.
OF COURSE the children of Sderot and the children of Gaza have the same rights to protection under international law and that is why, notwithstanding the decision of the government of Israel, we took whatever steps were open to us to obtain information from victims and experts in southern Israel about the effects on their lives of sustained rocket and mortar attacks over a period of years. It was on the strength of those investigations that we held those attacks to constitute serious war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.
The refusal of cooperation by the government of Israel did not prevent us from reacting positively to a request from Gilad Schalit's father to speak personally to our mission at its public session in Geneva. No one who heard his evidence could fail to have been moved by the unspeakable pain of a parent whose young son was being held for over three years in unlawful circumstances without any contact with the outside world and not even allowed visits from the International Committee of the Red Cross. The mission called for his release.
Israel and its courts have always recognized that they are bound by norms of international law that it has formally ratified or that have become binding as customary international law upon all nations. The fact that the United Nations and too many members of the international community have unfairly singled out Israel for condemnation and failed to investigate horrible human rights violations in other countries cannot make Israel immune from the very standards it has accepted as binding upon it.
Israel has a strong history of investigating allegations made against its own officials reaching to the highest levels of government: the inquiries into the Yom Kippur War, Sabra and Shatila, Bus 300 and the Second Lebanon War."
Philip Weiss also has a damning critique of the Bill Moyers interview with Goldstone here
See also UN Backs War Crimes Report
On Tuesday morning next week, 27th October, at 8:00am I am being interviewed on Premier Radio about a major new report being published the same day by Amnesty International exposing Israel's theft of water from the Palestinian Occupied Territories. Entitled, 'Troubled Waters: Palestinians Denied Fair Access to Water' the 112 page report outlines Israel's consistent failure to comply with international law on the fundamental human right Palestinians have to water.
While the illegal Israeli settlements, built exclusively for 'white only' American and European Jewish immigrants, enjoy lush lawns and open air swimming pools, the wells are running dry in the surrounding Palestinian villages.
Tune into Premier Radio 8:00am or check out Amnesty's website at 0001 hours GMT Tuesday 27th October 2009.
Friday, November 13th 2009 7pm
Washington, DC, DC
Well known British scholar and author on "Christian Zionism and the Bible" Dr. Stephen Sizer, will be joined with Jewish author Dr. Mark Braverman, to discuss the impact of this ideology on the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. The intended goal is to mobilize a Capitol Hill working group from the religious institutions of the neighborhood for further educational and movement expanding activities.
Lutheran Church of the Reformation
222 East Capitol Street, NE
Washington, DC, DC
The Rev. Conrad Braaten
Washington DC Capitol Hill Faith Forum Churches
Friday, 23 October 2009
The Goldstone Report has re-ignited the debate over Israel's conduct in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead. The controversy over the report has been fierce and often ugly. But more and more people, in and outside of Israel and from a variety of perspectives, are realizing that a credible, independent Israeli investigation into the conduct of the Israeli forces in Gaza is the only way to move forward, both to demonstrate that Israel is committed to the rule of law and to provide some justice to all those who suffered.
Such an investigation is precisely what B'Tselem and other Israeli human rights organizations have been demanding since the end of Cast Lead. U.S. support is crucial to make this demand a reality and for this we need your help. Click here to send a letter to your Representatives and Senators, as well as President Obama, urging them to support a credible, impartial, Israeli investigation.
At the UN Human Rights Council's first discussion of the Goldstone Report, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner said, "[The United States] encourage(s) Israel to utilize appropriate domestic review procedures and meaningful accountability mechanisms to investigate and address all credible allegations of misconduct or violations of international law." This is the kind of support we need more of from the United States.
A recent Senate letter stated that "Israel is in the process of conducting numerous investigations for which it should be commended not condemned." Israel has indeed opened a few military police investigations into soldiers' conduct in Cast Lead. Some of these were the result of B'Tselem documentation. However, there have been no investigations into the larger questions regarding the overall aims and policies concerning the fighting: were civilian buildings and infrastructure defined as legitimate military targets and if so, by whom? Were soldiers properly instructed regarding the obligation to safeguard civilians? Why were civil police forces targeted on the first day of the operation?
These and other pressing questions, such as the very troubling specific cases documented in the Goldstone report, cannot be answered by isolated military police investigations; they require investigation into decisions made by the highest military and civilian echelons.
Israeli human rights organizations have called for the establishment of a comprehensive, independent, impartial inquiry. Supporters of Israel must make clear that domestic accountability is in Israel's own self-interest as well as in the interest of justice for the civilians on both sides killed, injured and made homeless in Operation Cast Lead.
Click here to send your letters.
Director of US Office
B'Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
See here for the Bill Moyers interview with Judge Richard Goldstone.
Wednesday, 21 October 2009
Philip Weiss is pure gold. I read his blog everyday. This piece by Sahar Vardi is worth reading in full. Here's a taster:
"Shministim are conscientious objectors. We are Israeli high-school graduates who refuse conscription into the military, and are repeatedly imprisoned as a result. We will not take part of the occupation of another people, the Palestinians, particularly when doing so goes against human values and cannot be explained on grounds of security. I am now 19 and have been jailed three times for my refusal, usually in solitary confinement because I refuse to wear military uniform in prison.
My friends and I have been conducting speaking tours through the United States and South Africa. Our South African hosts are the End Conscription Campaign [ECC], as they celebrate 25 years since the launch of their campaign against apartheid military conscription.
Read more here
John Richardson has kindly reprinted an article by Richard Bewes that is well worth reading. Richard is the former Rector of All Soul's, Langham Place and chairman of the Church of England Evangelical Council. John is the Vicar of Ugley in Essex. Richard looks back over 50 years of faithful ministry and takes a welcome irenic approach to the tensions between Fulcrum and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans on the heart and soul of evangelical Anglicanism.
"Such a lot of to-ing and fro-ing these days between conservatives, charismatics, ‘open’ and reformed evangelicals! On October 14th 2009 I was listening to Fulcrum’s Stephen Kuhrt at the residential conference of the Church of England Evangelical Council (at which I was present - as a former CEEC Chairman). I found myself wandering down Memory Lane. For it was fifty years back - September 1959 that old man Chavasse ordained me in Rochester Cathedral.
Why, Stephen Kuhrt is still a babe - ordained in 2003! Yet I could no more have given a talk on his level to CEEC at that stage than have driven the BRM racing car.
Do you know, life was altogether more simple when I was ordained! The evangelical intake in September 1959 numbered about seven percent of the total. Who were we? What were we? Nothing, in the minds of the wider church. It was Backs to the Wall for us despised evangelicals. Charismatic evangelicals? They were a non-breed. Reformed evangelicals? Forget it. If I had a label at all it was Evangelical. That was enough – and it ought to be enough today! True, in those early days there was a group who called themselves Liberal Evangelicals, who had problems over Bible infallibility and penal substitutionary atonement. But with Stott around they were a dying breed. And then there was Billy! Our numbers and our confidence grew.
It was really in 1962 – with Honest to God – that true battle began. Even so - in that still comparatively stable era morally - it would have been completely unthinkable that the Richard Baxter-style dismissal of 1685 could have repeated itself at Kidderminster, as it did in 2002 with a brave colleague, Charles Raven, whom I admire for his stance against his bishop’s blatant defiance of the Lambeth 1998 resolution on homosexuality. Charles, though banished from St John’s Kidderminster under threat of police arrest, has never renounced his anglicanism, and - for his consistent placing of Faith and Truth above Order – has, to my mind, every God-given right to continue speaking to us as an anglican evangelical.
As do faithful sisters and brothers across the Atlantic who, in these last momentous years, find themselves out of their rectories, the objects of lawsuits, their congregations frequently locked out of their own churches, through the wilful blindness of a number of their bishops - fundamentalist in their liberal overthrow of creedal and moral orthodoxy.
This is why GAFCON had to happen, and so did the ensuing Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. As an American bishop said to me in Jerusalem (who is still in TEC), “Half of my diocese urge me to lead the charge out of TEC and into a safer and purer haven. The other half plead with me not to leave them. I say to them all, ‘We are in the thick of a storm – but Jesus is with us in the boat. If we keep our eyes upon Jesus, He will show us what to do. But if we have our eyes on the storm, it will destroy us.’” This bishop – and others like him – were weeping with relief and gratitude at GAFCON as the reading- out of the Jerusalem Declaration came to its close. The rest of us were on our feet.
Was it uncalled for that Stephen Kuhrt has expressed words of concern for the future, in regard to the formation of FCAUK? Not at all. We should always stay humbly on the watch; errors of judgment can overtake even the best of Christian leaders. Not for nothing was the Collect for Whit Sunday included in the Book of Common Prayer, with its plea for ‘a right judgment in all things.’ A reliable judgment is pretty much the top priority for every bishop, for every leader. Never mind the brain power! You can be a brilliant person – but still possess an uncanny ability to get decision after decision wrong.
Ultimately it’s the degree of hold that the Scriptures have upon the Church that determines its future course. The last fifty years – while undoubtedly featuring a remarkable rise in Evangelical academic learning – have also witnessed a decrease in Biblical confidence generally. At college during the ‘fifties, many of us members of the Christian Union would carry pocket Bibles as a matter of course. Today, you can give a well-publicised Bible study at a public gathering – with nobody holding a Bible at all. Asked, “Do you believe in the authority and inspiration of this Book?” the answer will invariably be “Oh yes.” But actions prove that the confidence has waned.
A massive issue – as raised by Andy Symes during question time at the CEEC conference – related to that of theological attitudes to divine Revelation – and hermeneutics. Today in popular thinking it will cheerfully be maintained by liberals and modernists, “Oh, I certainly believe in the authority of the Bible, and in the Creeds. I said so at my ordination! Of course my interpretation may be different from yours.” Then the fallacy begins to gain a hold that you can take any text of Scripture – and that there are as many interpretations that can be placed upon it as there are interpreters. This mindset has taken over.
Destructive? Very – and also highly degrading to the Bible writers. If I write an email to my friend, and say, “I’ll see you at the courts next Wednesday,” there is one meaning, and one meaning only that I intend by my message. And if my friend has done his research on me properly, he will know that I am referring to the tennis courts – not the law courts! I would feel highly insulted if he were to place on my words an alternative interpretation. There can only be one basic meaning to a passage of Scripture, and it is the task of the Bible student and scholar to discover what the intention was in the mind of the writer. Then we have clarity – and a message that is unequivocally from heaven!
True, there are, as Stephen Kuhrt and our friends at Fulcrum point out, a number of different theological strands that - it is maintained - we evangelicals should be ‘open’ to.
Actually, we should not be too surprised at the different ‘tribes’ that have opened up in evangelical life. Colin Buchanan forecast such a development. “As our numbers grow,” he said at an earlier NEAC, “we shall find that we will become more diffuse – and somewhat fluffier at the edges.”
For myself, I think that over these past decades – like it or not - I have indeed been well-exposed to the different theological emphases in the church. I may have been critical of certain aspects of the Charismatic movement, but there are plenty of sides to it that have been beneficial to my soul and my ministry. And then, I have had to look at the liberals; there was no other option, for they have been so vocal. Without doubt, my exposure to their claims – from Hewlett Thompson the ‘The Red Dean’ of Canterbury, through J.A.T. Robinson, Don Cupitt (my own Dean at Emmanuel College Cambridge), David Jenkins, Gene Robinson and the rest – has helped me to sharpen up my own operation.
And our own operation needs to be kept razor sharp, if it is to make any lasting contribution to the general scene. Years back, while I was CEEC chairman, we invited Nick Page of Radio 2 to interview on video David Hope, former Bishop of London. The video was played at one of our larger conferences. At one point, Nick put the question, “Bishop, would you agree that anglican evangelicals would do well to take into their account and thinking the findings and emphases of the various other viewpoints within the Church; Catholic, Liberal and so on?”
The bishop’s reply was interesting. “Not at all,” he remonstrated. “Right now you evangelicals are not nearly evangelical enough. You seem, if anything, to be departing from your earlier roots. What has happened to your doctrines – and to your preaching of them? And why are you slipping from your Quiet Times? What has happened to your prayer meetings and to your former great missionary drive? We need you to be faithful to your own true evangelical identity if you are to have a hope of challenging and building the rest of us in the church!”
My long-time next-door neighbour John Stott puts it in a different way. Every generation of Gospel men and women, he insists, has to go through the same operation repeatedly – namely to fight afresh all over again for the unchanging apostolic truths that remain the platform for the church, in every age and crisis that it inevitably faces; we cannot opt out.
Well, they had to fight – and die in flames – for the mighty truth of Justification that swept Europe 450 years ago. A new solemnity and awed confidence in the death of Jesus was to be evoked by the words at Holy Communion, that the Lord had made, by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world. Christians saw afresh that in an historic moment of ‘propitiation’ God had intercepted his own judgment; that the Cross actually did something - not only to our sins - but to God Himself in the ‘satisfaction’ and averting of His holy wrath – why, to hold onto these convictions is to be truly anglican in our belief.
Wherever there has been a great historical movement of the Spirit in the awakening of thousands of people, the hymn books are a dead give-away. Hymn after hymn on the Cross, on the miracle of forgiveness, on the gift of resurrection life in Christ, on discipleship and service, on the missionary imperative, on the final Eschaton!
It is no bad thing to have Stephen Kuhrt’s hesitations and concerns about FCAUK - and about us all - put on paper. We must believe that if they do nothing else, they should harden our resolve that we are indeed staying, not quitting, and that we have every right to stay - on centre ground! Meanwhile, however, we must reach out in support of the increasing numbers of anglican pastors internationally who – in one way or another – have been obliged and even forced to leave their anglican home, and yet are firm in their convictions that We are still anglican. FCAUK will – and must – through a faithful and generous network of Gospel churches, continue to assist that to happen, God being our helper."
View other photos of Richard Bewes taken at GAFCON in Jerusalem here
Monday, 19 October 2009
For more information see new-wine.org
Charles Raven has written an excellent response to an article by Gordon Kuhrt in this week's Church of England Newspaper. It is well worth reading because it identifies the ways 'open' evangelicalism differs from 'conservative' evangelicalism in our assessment of the Church of England and our role within it.
This week a spokesman for Fulcrum, the ‘open’ evangelical’ grouping the in the Church of England, has claimed that the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans will fragment the Church of England, weaken its structures and polarise debate. Many might think that as far as the first two charges are concerned, the Church of England has been managing to bring these about quite effectively on its own without any help from the FCA in Great Britain and Ireland, but Kuhrt claims that the FCA needs to ‘bury good news’ and to substantiate this he buries the bad news.
As far as the third charge is concerned, the FCA is not polarising debate, but its existence inevitably brings issues to the surface. And this is what happened at a meeting of the Church of England’s Evangelical Council last week as the Revd Stephen Kuhrt represented the Fulcrum position on the FCA. An alternative view was given by the Revd Vaughan Roberts in his address ‘Why I Praise God for the FCA’. Both are published side by side in this week’s Church of England Newspaper, but this is not simply a Church of England matter. The FCA in these islands is part of the global GAFCON movement and much as some would want to deny it, the problems which have engulfed the Anglican Churches of North America are inexorably manifesting themselves in England.
Vaughan Roberts is an excellent advocate for the FCA and there is no point in repeating him. My focus is on Stephen Kuhrt’s critique of the FCA in which he unintentionally draws attention to the very reasons why we need it.
First, we are told that what the FCA and Article 13 of the Jerusalem Declaration ‘opens up are the grounds for pretty much any parish or grouping with a grudge against authority appealing to FCA UK and receiving its support.’ This is a parody. ‘Being Faithful’, the GAFCON Theological Resource Group’s commentary on the Jerusalem Declaration, makes it clear that ‘the breaking of communion between churches is only to be applied in extreme circumstances’ and ‘should be exercised with due process and over time’ (p65) and commends the eight step pattern of discipline recommended in ‘To Mend the Net’, the 2001 proposal for restoring order in the Anglican Communion by Archbishops Maurice Sinclair and Drexel Gomez (which was shunted into a siding by one of Stephen Kuhrt’s favoured ‘Keele Evangelicals’, former Archbishop George Carey).
The Jerusalem Declaration recovers the principle of church discipline, which for the Anglican Reformers was a mark of the true church, along with the faithful preaching of God’s Word and celebration of the sacraments. What the FCA has done is not to encourage fragmentation, but to reveal the fragmentation that already exists. Doctrinal discipline is virtually non-existent in the Church of England today, as Vaughan Roberts notes, and irrespective of the formal status of the Church of England doctrinally as defined in Canon A5, in practice pretty well anything goes. One cannot enter a Church of England parish church with any certainty that orthodox Christianity will believed and preached simply because it is part of the Church of England.
It is this reality which Stephen Kuhrt has to bury, because it calls into question the assumption of evangelical success which underlies his second criticism of the FCA, namely that the it will encourage cynicism about the Church of England’s structures ‘at just a time when these structures need encouragement and endorsement’. He claims that evangelicals in the Church of England have ‘never had it so good’ and that the Church ‘has never had more evangelical bishops than it has now.’ Assuming charitably that all bishops who identify themselves as evangelical do actually still hold to distinctive evangelical beliefs, we need to ask why, in that case, is the Church of England, taken as a whole, so manifestly a failing institution - without an agreed agenda, with declining numbers and with some dioceses facing serious financial difficulty?
The answer seems to be that despite the superficial success of the ‘Keele’ strategy of engagement with the structures, those evangelicals in positions of leadership continue to duck the key question of discipline, and as long as they do that, in practice they collude with the liberal agenda of non-scriptural inclusion and by silence give plausibility to false teaching.
To take a current example, Stephen Kuhrt cites Steve Croft, now Bishop of Sheffield, as one of those who has been able ‘to build a mission shaped agenda right into the heart of the Church of England’. It is not being cynical about his positive achievements to point out that nonetheless, Bishop Jack Spong, who was once rebuked even by Rowan Williams for his extreme scepticism, is next week visiting St Marks’s Broomhall in Sheffield as part of a lecture tour without, it appears, any censure from the Bishop of Sheffield. A diocesan spokesman told me that the Bishop was aware of the event and as long as Bishop Spong was ‘just speaking’ this would not be a problem.
The Progressive Church Network which is organising the lecture tour tells us that ‘Bishop Spong never fails to inspire and encourage those who, like him, believe it’s time to jettison some of the worst dogma which has attached to the Christian tradition’. And included in those ‘worst dogmas’ are the incarnation and atonement. Even if Bishop Spong had simply hired a secular venue for his lecture, should not such views be met with more than silence from an orthodox bishop?
In contrast, when I invited Bishop Howell Davies, a retired Uganda bishop, to conduct a confirmation service in 2000 in place of the then diocesan bishop Dr Peter Selby, who was actively promoting the gay lesbian agenda, Bishop Davies was issued with a ‘letter of unwelcome’ by Peter Selby albeit, somewhat bizarrely, after the event.
And coming right back to the present, would the Bishop of Sheffield be willing to open one of his churches to a bishop of the Anglican Church of North America? According to the Archbishop of Canterbury their orders are irregular and therefore their ministry cannot be recognised in England so we have a neat illustration of how dysfunctional church structures have become – the hospitality of a parish church is given to the most outspoken heretic of the Anglican Communion while godly orthodox bishops would, presumably, be excluded.
What is true at the local level in England is also reflected in the dysfunctionality of Lambeth initiatives at the international level. Stephen Kuhrt believes that the FCA have had a very negative take on, for instance, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s statement after TEC’s Anaheim Convention in July, but is it plausible to believe that the Archbishop would have been willing to issue a statement setting out views on homosexuality quite the reverse of his own – to the chagrin of many revisionists – if it had not been for the determination and courage of the GAFCON Primates in being willing to take practical steps to confront false teaching?
One of those upset friends was, unsurprisingly, Peter Selby. The former Bishop of Worcester has sometimes been described as a maverick, but does have a knack of saying the right things for the wrong reasons. In his address to Inclusive Church on 7th October, he sharply criticised the increasingly personalised and ad hoc leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, arguing that ‘when it comes to sexuality, he has taken on an exclusive concern with finding ecclesio-political answers to the current panic. Out of the systemic malaise we seem to inhabit has come an apparently overwhelming false consciousness: a place where the thoughts he thinks arise from the role that has been pressed upon him by others.’
So the GAFCON movement is not the only group to have serious questions about the Archbishop’s leadership of the Communion. Fulcrum evangelicals are like investors in denial, unable to admit they have made a mistake and cut their losses when everyone else can see the business going down the drain. Peter Selby’s analysis is spot on. The Lambeth inspired Covenant process is driven by pragmatism. It refuses to deal honestly with profound underlying theological differences and this lack of integrity makes the whole process vulnerable to the clearly worked out ideology of TEC and its allies. Peter Selby’s address was entitled ‘When the Word of the Street is Resist’ and perhaps it is no coincidence there are already voices in TEC calling for its ample funds to be used for the encouragement of revisionist Anglican congregations and structures in England and the UK. It is unlikely that John Spong’s lecture tour in England will be his last.
So Kuhrt’s third concern, that the FCA ‘will encourage an unhelpful standoff with more liberal groupings and work to increase rather than resolve polarisation on the issue of homosexuality’ expresses an attachment to a status quo which systematically puts the orthodox on the back foot, encouraging them to treat basic Christian doctrine and morality as matters for ongoing debate rather than that to which we hold firm.
At the international level, it became increasingly clear to those who eventually founded the GAFCON movement that the ‘listening process’ initiated after the 1998 Lambeth Conference had become a technique for delay and assimilation. The openly expressed frustration of ‘liberal groupings’ now that they perceive the process is not going all their way (thanks to GAFCON) simply underlines the point. The FCA has brought a much needed theological clarity into a process which had been dominated by an unholy alliance of TEC money and Lambeth hierarchy. It is to be hoped that the emergence of GAFCON means the game is over for the revisionists as far as the Global Communion is concerned, but it is certainly not ‘game over’ in England. The Church of England is going to find itself in partnership for the future – the question is which partners? Any hope for the long term integrity and mission of the Church of England must lie in partnership with that biblical integrity and vitality which the FCA represents; otherwise the future may well be with TEC.
Vaughan Roberts: Why I Praise God for the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans
Sunday, 18 October 2009
It is not an understatement to say that what is at stake is our understanding of the gospel, the centrality of the cross, the role of the church, and the nature of our missionary mandate, not least, to the beloved Jewish people. If we don’t see Jesus at the heart of the Hebrew scriptures, and the continuity between his Old Testament and New Testament saints in the one inclusive Church, we’re not reading them correctly.
The key question is this “Was the coming of Jesus and the birth of the Church the fulfilment or the postponement of the promises God made to Abraham?”
Christian Zionists see the promises of identity, land and destiny as part of an ongoing covenant God has with the Jewish people. In this study (and the book it is drawn from) I unpack this question and show that Christian Zionism is a recent manifestation of a heresy refuted by the New Testament.
For an outline of this seminar see http://www.cc-vw.org/articles/zcs2.pdf
Professor Saeed Bahmanpour, Principal of the Islamic College, London, also delivered a paper on the 'End Times' from a Muslim perspective. Afterwards we had a lively debate on the similarities and differences between the two perspectives.
The presentation was based on a chapter from my book Zion's Christian Soldiers stephensizer.com/books/zions-christian-soldiers/
You can view some photos here
Saturday, 17 October 2009
Last night after Friday prayers, Dundee Central Mosque hosted an open meeting on how to resolve the Arab-Israeli Conflict peacefully. I gave a Christian perspective and Imam Ayyaz gave a Muslim perspective. A large number of local Christians and Muslims attended.
My presentation traced the roots of the conflict back to the 19th Century and British foreign policy showing the complicity of British Christian leaders and politicians in creating the problem and American leaders now perpetuating it, largely for the same religious and strategic reasons.
I showed graphically how Zionists are imposing what Jeff Halper describes as a 'Matrix of Control' in order to deprive as many Palestinians as possible of their land in the Occupied Territories before unilaterally declaring the borders of Israel.
I concluded with a series of seven constructive, non-violent and democratic steps we can employ in order to bring a just and lasting settlement to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
View more photos here
Friday, 16 October 2009
Last night I gave a paper entitled 'A Christian Perspective on the End Times' at the University of Dundee.
Professor Saeed Bahmanpour, Principal of the Islamic College, London, also delivered a paper on the 'End Times' from a Muslim perspective. Afterwards we had a lively debate on the similarities and differences between the two perspectives.
The presentation was based on a chapter from my book Zion's Christian Soldiers which can be viewed here
You can view some photos taken here.
The launch of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans (UK and Ireland) on 6 July was an answer to my prayers. I had feared that orthodox Anglicans, who share a common commitment to the essentials of our faith and a concern about departures from it within the Church of England and wider Anglican Communion, would spend more energy disagreeing over their different strategies for the defence and proclamation of the gospel than in supporting one another and working together for Christ in our church and nation. GAFCON gave me a glimpse of another possibility: a wide spectrum of believers including Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals of all shades, joining together in one united movement for the cause of Christ in the Anglican Communion in the light of great opportunities for mission and serious departures from the apostolic gospel. The existence of a national FCA provides us, I believe, with a God given opportunity. It is urgently needed for the following reasons:
1. To support the beleaguered orthodox overseas
FCA is committed to supporting Anglicans around the world who are suffering because of their commitment to the orthodox faith in dioceses and provinces that have departed from it. TEC is currently spending very large sums of money on deposing clergy and dispossessing churches. Both those who have formed the ACNA and others who have remained in TEC need to know that they are not alone and can rely on our prayers and partnership, as do the orthodox in a number of other countries who face great difficulties. Their situations are urgent now and can not wait for the outcome of the proposed Anglican Covenant process, which is anyway likely only to address questions of order rather than the issue of defending orthodox belief.
2. To resist a drift from orthodoxy in the Church of England
Although the situation in TEC is especially bad, there is certainly no room for complacency closer to home, especially in Scotland and Wales. There is a good number of supportive, orthodox bishops in the Church of England and General Synod has not gone down the heterodox road of the General Convention in sanctioning immorality and yet there is much to cause deep concern. In recent years the lack of almost any doctrinal discipline has had alarming results, with the Cost of Conscience survey of 2002 revealing that from a half to a third of clergy do not believe core doctrines such as the physical resurrection, the virgin birth or the uniqueness of Christ in salvation. There already exist two irreconcilable understandings of the Christian faith which can not ultimately be held together. We must not be naive and fail to notice the gradual slide away from the truth because of the salami tactics of revisionists who are often careful not to overreach themselves and bring things to a head before they are likely to win the victory, but rather gradually establish facts on the ground, thus undermining the orthodox faith slice by slice. Given this reality, FCA must offer a robust defence against the false gospel and be a bulwark for the truth.
3. To support the beleaguered orthodox in England
While we ourselves may work in supportive dioceses we must recognise that some are not so fortunate. There is ample evidence of ordination candidates being discriminated against, clergy finding doors closed when they look for new posts or seek support for initiatives because they are regarded as “too narrow” and increasing numbers of clergy and congregations now find themselves “on the edge” because of their principled objection to the heterodox stance of the diocesan bishop. The FCA is needed to provide an opportunity for a broader group to offer them solidarity and support.
4. To prevent defections by orthodox Anglicans
A united body of the orthodox will be a spur to those who may already be tempted to give up on the Church of England. It should also make it less likely that different groups gradually defect into little offshoots such as the Church of England Continuing (Reform) or (Forward in Faith) or (New Wine). It is well known that members of FCA worldwide and in England hold different views on women’s ministry. While retaining our distinctives and different associations it is vital that we maintain our partnership for the gospel despite differences on this point. FCA provides an opportunity for a united body in which orthodox believers from the two integrities insist together that those who in conscience can not accept women bishops must receive adequate legally enforceable provision. We must do all we can to prevent orthodox Anglicans from leaving the Church of England and to resist the success of a divide and rule strategy.
5. To promote mission
This fifth point is surely the most important for evangelicals and undergirds the others. The reason that we should work together for the cause of the true faith in the Church of England is not, above all, for the church but for the world. We must not only ensure the preservation of the authentic gospel but also do all we can to get it out to people where they can hear it. This, as the Archbishop of Canterbury and many others recognise, will require not just the maintenance of old patterns of parochial ministry but also fresh approaches. Many evangelical churches have found that despite the talk of “mission shaped church” their attempts to apply these principles have been met by obstacles and opposition from other clergy and some have felt bound to proceed despite opposition because of the urgency of gospel proclamation. While taking care not to endorse an unprincipled pragmatism the FCA can play an important role in encouraging responsible yet radical mission.
It is vital that orthodox Anglicans stand together in the cause of the gospel for the sake not just of our church but, above all, for those who do not know Christ.
Thursday, 15 October 2009
On Wednesday evening I led a discussion on my two books on Christian Zionism and Zion's Christian Soldiers in Borders Boookshop in Dundee.
View some photos here.
A big 'thank you' to Neil Cooney, the Sales Manager of Borders for hosting the event.
On Wednesday I delivered a seminar on the Origins and History of Christian Zionism for postgraduate students at the Al-Maktoum Institute, Dundee, a postgraduate institute of the University of Aberdeen.
This paper traces the roots of Christian Zionism and the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Dr Khalid El-Awaisi, Director of the Centre for Islamicjerusalem Studies chaired the seminar. He is the author of Mapping Islamicjerusalem.