Bishops’ Statement “Arrogant, Ignorant, Smacks of Anti-Semitism”
NZ Anglican and Catholic Bishops recently released a joint statement entitled A call for peace and justice in the Holy Land
Evangelical Anglicans Rev Arthur and Sue Comery have issued a strong response:
“We are appalled and angered by the bishops’ joint statement. It is arrogant, ignorant and smacks of anti-semitism.
It is arrogant: the bishops have issued a joint statement on a highly controversial issue; they do not speak on behalf of us all and their statement should have reflected this.
It is ignorant: the ‘1967 Green Line’ is in fact the 1949 armistice line. It is the place at which Jordan and the fledgling State of Israel ceased hostilities concluding an aggressive war launched by Arab armies in defiance of the expressed will of the international community. In 1949, Israel signed a series of armistice agreements with all four bordering Arab states, the bishops mistakenly refer to these as the ‘1967 borders’. These ceasefire lines did not demarcate political borders; they were simply the points at which Israel had been able to beat back the pan-Arab army. This distinction was explicitly stated in all the armistice agreements – in the Jordan-Israel agreement this was at the specific request of Jordan. It is beyond belief that the bishops would ask Israel to withdraw to indefensible, insecure borders while they are under attack from a terror organisation whose founding document calls for the ethnic cleansing of every Jew from the Jordan to the Sea and while the PA equivocates and obfuscates.
It smacks of antisemitism: which other nation have the bishops insisted redraw its borders in such a way that the nation becomes entirely indefensible? Can the bishops give evidence of similar action they have taken in regards to a border dispute? Why have they chosen Israel? Why now? Around the world there are several egregious breaches of sovereignty (which the Israel/West Bank dispute is clearly not) that they could have become indignant about (Turkey/Cyprus springs to mind) … so our questions remain, why Israel? Why now?
The Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs has a very interesting book called, ‘Israel’s rights as a nation-state in international diplomacy’. It is an edited book with chapters by highly qualified and internationally recognised experts in their fields; it is well worth reading.
Rev Arthur and Sue Comery, Orewa”
The Comerys elaborate further on the Bishops’ problematic statements:
“The Bishops express sadness over the deaths of more than 1900 people BUT…
… they fail to note:
The civilian death toll they quote so confidently has been supplied by Hamas. It is lazy and dangerous to rely on Hamas; their figures are grossly unreliable as witnessed in the infamous Goldstone Report which falsely stated that the vast majority of people killed in Operation Cast Lead were civilians and not Hamas fighters. When these figures became public knowledge in Gaza, many accused Hamas of cowardice for allowing so many civilians to be killed while protecting their own fighters. As a result of these complaints, Hamas was forced to tell the truth: namely that many more of those killed were actually Hamas fighters or armed policemen.
In the past, Hamas has included in the casualty figures:
– Palestinians killed by Hamas as collaborators.
– Palestinians killed through domestic violence.
– Palestinians killed by errant Hamas rockets or mortars.
– Palestinians who died naturally during the conflict.
– The vast majority of those killed have been male rather than female.
– Most of those killed are within the age range (15-40) that are likely to be combatants. The vast majority of these are male as well. The number of people over 60 who have been killed is infinitesimal.
– The number of children below the age of 15 is also relatively small, although their pictures have been shown more frequently than others.
– The genders and ages of those killed are not representative of the general population of Gaza. It is far more representative of the genders and ages of combatants. These data strongly suggest that a very large percentage of Palestinians killed are on the combatant side of the continuum.
We wonder if Hamas also included the reported 162 children who died while performing child slave labour in building their terror tunnels; or if they included the adults who worked on tunnel construction and who were executed by Hamas so that they could not reveal the location of the tunnels; or if the ‘collaborators’ recently executed will also be included in the martyrs’ list.
The use of human shields also adds to the death toll. Hamas, as a matter of its basic operational procedure, deliberately and wilfully uses its civilians and its civilian structures, whether schools, hospitals, mosques or private homes, in order to shield its rocket emplacements, weapons manufacture facilities, tactical planning and operation centres and its stocks of rockets and other weapons.
Hamas does not allow Palestinian civilians into their shelters, while using civilian areas from which to fire their rockets; Israel, on the other hand, devotes its resources to building shelters and Iron Dome protection. Put another way, while Israel uses shelters and the Iron Dome to protect its civilians, Hamas uses its civilians to protect its rockets and its terrorists.
We would like to ask the bishops some questions: What has been their response to Iran’s pivotal involvement in Syria? They are surely cognizant of the fact that Assad’s brutal and bloody regime would have been defeated long ago without the massive support of Iran. Have they asked the NZ Government to censure Iran? Perhaps they have done something to provoke much warranted criticism of Turkey and their complicity with training, protecting and resourcing terrorists … or perhaps not. If they have not asked the NZ Government to act, if the body count in Syria has not outraged them and prompted them to act, why have they chosen to act publicly and unequivocally in response to the far smaller body count in Israel and Gaza? Why? Is it because when Arabs and Muslims deliberately kill other Arabs and Muslims, it deserves less attention than when Israelis kill Arabs and Muslims, even in self-defence and in an effort to prevent the murder of their own civilians? If so, they are guilty of racism and they are applying a noxious double standard.
The bishops ask for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire BUT …
… they do not acknowledge that Hamas has violated the last 11 ceasefires in the current conflict, which they initiated.
The bishops deplore the blockade of Gaza BUT …
… they fail to mention the following:
– Israel unilaterally withdrew every single Jew, living and dead, from Gaza in 2005 and turned the area over to the PA, which was subsequently overthrown by Hamas in a bloody internecine war. The blockade was put in place to protect Israeli citizens; it is the obligation of civilised governments to protect their citizens not their enemies.
– Despite the constant rocket fire into Israel, the Kerem Shalom Crossing has remained open during Operation Protective Edge, providing food and essential supplies for the residents of the Gaza Strip.
– The IDF acceded to the request of hundreds of Palestinians who hold foreign citizenship to leave the Gaza Strip.
– The IDF set up a field hospital to treat wounded Gazans.
– The Erez Crossing in northern Gaza also remains open to Palestinian pedestrians for humanitarian cases.
– Hamas regularly attacks the Erez Crossing through which Israel allows trucks carrying supplies to enter the Gaza Strip.
– The Rafah Crossing between Egypt and Gaza has been sealed for almost the entire duration of the current conflict. This has caused tremendous hardship. Can we assume that a joint letter to the NZ Government condemning Egypt’s actions will be forthcoming in the near future?
The bishops condemn the ‘cruel security wall’ BUT …
… they fail to mention the reasons for its erection. The security barrier was begun in 2002 at a time when terrorism had reached unprecedented levels. This terrorism followed the 2000 Camp David Agreements in which Israel offered 95% of a contiguous West Bank; 100% of Gaza; a capital in East Jerusalem; the removal of Jewish communities in these areas; $30billion to help resettle Palestinian refugees. The Palestinians walked away. Arafat launched an intifada.
Prior to the construction of the barrier, hundreds of Israeli civilians were murdered in suicide bombings during 2001-2004, the height of the Second Intifada. However, this number dropped precipitously once Israel began constructing the barrier. The wall has nothing to do with race or religion; it is a national-territorial protective barrier in a conflict between two separate peoples. Palestinians are not Israelis and do not wish to be thought of as such. Israel has no wish to rule Palestinians and has accepted in principle the concept of two states for two peoples. The security barrier was erected because of Palestinian terror attacks. It can be dismantled when that threat ceases.
Only a tiny percentage of the separation barrier is made up of a concrete wall. These sections are only built in areas where snipers have used rooftops to fire onto highways and into populated areas. The vast majority is a high-tech intrusion detection screen with sensors and a patrol road.
The bishops claim that as a result of the ‘cruel security wall’, Palestinians have inhuman living conditions BUT …
… they refuse to acknowledge that the PA is a corrupt kleptocracy that impoverishes its people and turns its leaders into billionaires. Hamas’ millionaire/billionaire leadership is legendary. The Palestinian people have received per capita, adjusted for inflation, 25 times more aid than Europeans received under the post-WW2 Marshall Plan to rebuild war-torn Western Europe. Where has the money gone? Why do the bishops blame Israel for Palestinian corruption, incompetence and theft? Will the bishops challenge the Palestinian Authority and Hamas? Will they ask the NZ Government to make the Palestinian Authority and Hamas accountable for the billions of dollars of aid they receive?
The bishops accuse Israel of constructing illegal settlements BUT …
… they don’t want to talk about this:
Following the Six Day War, Israel made huge and unexpected gains against belligerent Arab armies. A superpower standoff developed; the international community needed an urgent solution.
UNSC Resolution 242 was a binding decision and became the basis for all other documents relating to the topic; it calls on the parties to make peace and allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” is achieved. When such a peace is made, Israel is required to withdraw its armed forces “from territories” it occupied during the Six-Day War. The wording is very important and was the result of careful and thorough negotiations. The resolution says ‘territories’ not ‘all the territories’ or ‘some of the territories’. In the first draft, the Soviet aligned countries proposed, ‘all of the …’ Britain and the US vetoed this wording; they argued that it was unworkable on two counts:
Israel wouldn’t withdraw from everything, the UN would look foolish.
Israel shouldn’t have to withdraw, the move would be suicidal.
The diplomatic solution was, ‘territories’.
Has Israel complied?
It has withdrawn from approximately 99% of the territories: Sinai, Gaza, part of the West Bank.
Israel has a strong claim to the West Bank; it is certainly not an illegal occupier. At best the area is a ‘disputed territory’.
There was a Jewish presence in the West Bank well before 1949; in fact, the West Bank is more accurately called Judea and Samaria and the Jewish connection to this land is indisputable.
Under Jordanian rule, the area was ethnically cleansed of all Jews. Jordanian construction never earned the approbation of the international community.
The term ‘illegal settlements’ was coined after 1967 when Israel took back territory in a defensive war and according to the original Mandate.
We hope that the bishops’ joint statement does not empower the strident, resurgent Jew-hatred dressed up as 21st Century moralising that is sweeping the Western world; we hope, but without a lot of confidence.
Rev Arthur and Sue Comery”
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