Overview of Sabeel
· Sabeel promotes the extremist Palestinian narrative and excuses terrorism. Sabeel founder Naim Ateek has written that he does not believe Israel has a right to exist. He prefers a one state solution--that is, the dismantling of the Jewish state. He claims to condemn terrorism, but draws a parallel between suicide bombers and the self-sacrifice of Christ. Sabeel never calls for the dismantling of terrorist groups or for an end to terrorism.
· Sabeel distorts facts in order to demonize Israel. Sabeel documents claim Israel started all the Arab-Israeli wars. Sabeel denounces Israel’s current counterterrorism measures as a “morbid fear of peace” without even acknowledging the terrorist war unleashed in 2000 that made them necessary. Sabeel claims Israel has never sought peace, ignoring Israel’s search for compromise since 1920 and its record of relinquishing land and even uprooting Jewish communities for peace. It did so in its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt. By 1996, it had carried out a withdrawal from the Territories, leaving 98% of Palestinians self-governing under the Palestinian Authority. In 2001, it offered Palestinians a state on 97% of the West Bank and 100% of Gaza, a capital in east Jerusalem and removal of Jewish communities. In 2005, it unilaterally withdrew from the rest of Gaza, and uprooted all Jewish communities there and four Jewish communities in the northern West Bank.
· Sabeel promotes one-sided programs. The Israeli side is silenced. Those who wish to dispute Sabeel’s claims, including representatives of Israel, are not allowed to speak. Instead, Sabeel brings in Israelis or Jews who belong to the fringe group of anti-Zionist Jews in order to give the appearance of balance and fairness.
· Sabeel promotes intolerance and extremist theology. It foments traditional prejudices against Jews which have no place in the modern world. Sabeel revives the “teachings of contempt” which are hostile to Jews and Judaism and which claim Jews killed Christ. Such views were denounced by the 2nd Vatican Council for contributing to the Holocaust. But Sabeel leaders use metaphors that describe Israel as a Christ-killing nation:
o “The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull.”
o “It seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him.”
o “ The challenge to pastors and Bible teachers is to de-Zionize the Bible.”
o “By espousing the nationalist tradition of Zionism, [Jews have] become oppressors and warmakers themselves. This has been a revolutionary change from the long-held belief that the Jews have a vocation for suffering.”
· Sabeel promotes continued intolerance against Christians in the Palestinian Authority and the larger Middle East. Sabeel intentionally misrepresents the plight of Christians in the PA. It is silent about the increasing persecution of its fellow Christians who presented a dossier to Christian authorities in Jerusalem in September 2005 listing 93 incidents of Muslim or PA abuse against Christians, including rape, murder and confiscation of property. “ Almost every day – I repeat, almost every day – our communities are harassed by the Islamic extremists in these regions. And if it's not the members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad, there are clashes with the 'rubber wall' of the Palestinian Authority.” Custodian of the Holy Land, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa
· Sabeel promotes the new anti-Semitism. It does not condemn the anti-Semitic, racist incitement that is rife in the PA and terrorist groups. Rather, it promotes the new anti-Semitism which includes the demonization and delegitimization of Israel and applying a double standard that requires Israel to live up higher standards than all other nations.
· Sabeel promotes policies that will retard instead of advance the peace process. Sabeel calls for Christian churches to divest from Israel. This is counter-productive. It punishes Israel instead of praising it for its recent withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank. It makes no demands on the PA to stop terrorism and Israel’s need for counterterrorism measures. This is a time to invest in both Israel and the PA and to help the PA develop a viable state that is not crippled by lawlessness, terrorists and corruption.
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