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May 22, 2014 2

Palestinians Welcome Pope Francis To Bethlehem With Anti-Semitism

On Sun­day, when Pope Fran­cis cel­e­brates mass in Bethlehem’s Manger Square, he may be con­fronted with bill­boards depict­ing Jesus being attacked by Israeli soldiers.jesus-palestinian-pope-israel

This not-so-subtle mod­ern day ver­sion of the dei­cide is trans­par­ent clas­si­cal anti-Semitism in the guise of crit­i­cism of Israel.  The posters are a prod­uct of The Pales­tin­ian Museum, which announced that at the request of the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity (PA)’s Supreme Pres­i­den­tial Com­mit­tee for Church Affairs, it had pre­pared spe­cial bill­boards to dec­o­rate Manger Square which “com­bine recent media pho­tographs of the Pales­tin­ian land­scape and its peo­ple with West­ern baroque paint­ings of bib­li­cal scenes.”

The posters, some of which depict Jesus suf­fer­ing at the hands of Israeli sol­diers, will high­light “the ten­sion between the pop­u­lar image of the Holy Land and Palestine’s ongo­ing his­tory of suf­fer­ing under occu­pa­tion and oppres­sion,”  accord­ing to the Museum.

Pales­tin­ian efforts to present them­selves as the direct descen­dants of Jesus are noth­ing new.  Nor is the manip­u­la­tive and anti-Semitic com­par­i­son of Pales­tin­ian suf­fer­ing at the hands of Jews just as they claim Jews were respon­si­ble for suf­fer­ing and death of Jesus.

The mes­sage care­fully cho­sen by an offi­cial Pales­tin­ian body to pub­licly wel­come Pope Fran­cis demon­strates how deeply inter­min­gled anti-Jewish and anti-Israel atti­tudes are in the Pales­tin­ian pub­lic sphere.

At the weekly meet­ing of Israel’s cab­i­net, Prime Min­is­ter Netanyahu decried Pales­tin­ian incite­ment, cit­ing the ADL Global 100 Sur­vey find­ings about the high level of anti-Semitic atti­tudes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

While the PA reg­u­larly com­plains that incite­ment is an Israeli-manufactured excuse, there is no deny­ing that extreme anti-Israel and anti-Semitic mes­sag­ing appears rou­tinely in offi­cial Pales­tin­ian pub­li­ca­tions and institutions.

Ear­lier this week, the May 21st edi­tion of the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, fea­tured an op-ed by one of its fre­quent writ­ers, Yahya Rabah, enti­tled “No One Believes Shy­lock,” fea­tur­ing the denial of the Jew­ish con­nec­tion to the Land of Israel, com­par­isons of Israel to the Nazis and other out­rages.   Rabah writes:

“… Israel lives on a broad and exten­sive sys­tem of laws from the British Man­date, on illu­sion­ary Torah maps, as well as on hal­lu­ci­na­tions from the Baby­lon­ian cap­tiv­ity or from the Roman, the exis­tence of nei­ther has no sin­gle evi­dence. (It also lives) on prac­tices bor­rowed from the Nazis, cur­rently imi­tated by the Israelis against the Pales­tin­ian peo­ple, as clearly estab­lished by a num­ber of intel­lec­tu­als, authors and his­to­ri­ans in Israel these days.”

The issue of Pales­tin­ian incite­ment, and the PA’s chronic fail­ure to pre­pare the Pales­tin­ian pub­lic for peace with Israel was on ongo­ing con­cern cited by Israeli offi­cials dur­ing the recent cycle of US-brokered peace nego­ti­a­tions.

And with these egre­gious exam­ples appear­ing almost-daily, it is cer­tain to con­tinue to alarm all those com­mit­ted to true Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.

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March 14, 2013 2

Universities In Michigan To Host Sabeel’s Naim Ateek

A week ago, we reported on our blog that uni­ver­sity and aca­d­e­mic depart­ment spon­sor­ship of anti-Israel pro­grams has risen dra­mat­i­cally in the last few years. In fur­ther evi­dence of this trend, two uni­ver­si­ties in Michi­gan plan to host Naim Ateek, the founder and direc­tor of the Sabeel Ecu­meni­cal Lib­er­a­tion The­ol­ogy Cen­ter in Jerusalem, in the next few days.

On Sat­ur­day, March 16, Ateek is sched­uled to speak on the “Require­ments for a Just Peace in Palestine-Israel” at West­ern Michi­gan Uni­ver­sity. Two aca­d­e­mic depart­ments, the Insti­tute of Gov­ern­ment and Pol­i­tics and the Depart­ment of Polit­i­cal Sci­ence are listed as spon­sors. No stu­dent group appears to be involved in bring­ing Ateek to cam­pus. Two days later, Ateek will speak at Grand Val­ley State Uni­ver­sity, a talk spon­sored by the Mid­dle East Stud­ies and Reli­gious Stud­ies Pro­grams of the uni­ver­sity, as well as sev­eral stu­dent groups.

Sabeel, which has sev­eral chap­ters in the U.S., espouses what it calls “Pales­tin­ian lib­er­a­tion the­ol­ogy.” This “the­ol­ogy” rein­ter­prets the Hebrew Bible in an attempt to bol­ster the legit­i­macy of the Pales­tin­ian posi­tion and dis­avow Zion­ism. In his fre­quent speak­ing appear­ances at Sabeel con­fer­ences and other gath­er­ings, Ateek has said that claims that the land of Israel belongs to the Jew­ish peo­ple is “bad the­ol­ogy.” He asserts that the estab­lish­ment of Israel is a “relapse to the most prim­i­tive con­cepts of an exclu­sive, tribal God.” He also has accused Israel and its sup­port­ers of aban­don­ing God, say­ing that Israel “has no fear” of God and that Israel has instead adopted “secu­rity” as a new God.

On sev­eral occa­sions in the past, Ateek has used Chris­t­ian imagery to demo­nize Israel by com­par­ing modern-day Pales­tini­ans to Jesus and their suf­fer­ing to his cru­ci­fix­ion. He has referred to the Israeli occu­pa­tion as the “orig­i­nal sin” that must cease before Pales­tin­ian vio­lence will end. In a 2001 Easter mes­sage, Ateek explic­itly said: “Jesus is on the cross again with thou­sands of cru­ci­fied Pales­tini­ans around him…The Israeli gov­ern­ment cru­ci­fix­ion sys­tem is oper­at­ing daily.”

More recently, Ateek has employed Holocaust-related lan­guage to con­demn Israel, an oft-used rhetor­i­cal device for the anti-Israel move­ment. In a 2009 arti­cle in Cor­ner­stone, Sabeel’s pub­li­ca­tion, Ateek viciously claimed that the mur­der of Jew­ish chil­dren dur­ing the Holo­caust is “com­pa­ra­ble to what the gov­ern­ment of Israel has done to the peo­ple of Gaza today.” Other arti­cles pub­lished in Cor­ner­stone have sim­i­larly tried to exploit the hor­rors of the Holo­caust by analo­giz­ing it to Israeli pol­icy. In last spring’s edi­tion, for exam­ple, there was a poem that included the fol­low­ing lines:  “But what O Israel/Have you become?/The Nazis made me fear­ful to be a Jew/but you [Israel] have made me ashamed…Time to con­front the dark­ness we have become/With the Holo­caust it is Never Forget/but with Deir Yassin it is Never Mind.”

Sabeel’s Amer­i­can coun­ter­part, Friends of Sabeel-North Amer­ica, orga­nizes sev­eral anti-Israel con­fer­ences a year that fea­ture speak­ers who accuse Israel of racism, oppres­sion, and human rights vio­la­tions. Speak­ers often pro­mote Boy­cott, Divest­ment and Sanc­tions efforts as pun­ish­ment for what they see as Israel’s apartheid-like poli­cies. Some speak­ers at Sabeel con­fer­ences have also described the pro-Israel lobby as exces­sively pow­er­ful and argue that Israeli inter­ests con­trol the U.S. government’s for­eign pol­icy. The group has been the dri­ving force behind Chris­t­ian divest­ment ini­tia­tives against Israel since 2004.

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