The Palestinian Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center of Jerusalem revives medieval anti-Semitic imagery, promotes religious intolerance, distorts facts and muzzles open debate. Its mission is to give theological legitimacy to radical Palestinian positions and prejudices. In doing so, it has:
1. Breathed new life into Christian theological hostility and demonizing stereotypes of Jews and transposed them onto the Jewish state. Sabeel’s founder, Anglican Canon Naim Ateek, has:
· Portrayed Jews/Israel as Christ-killers: “Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him…The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily.” (Sermon February 22 2001)
· Painted Jews/Israel as Herod, the Child-killer. “[O]ur celebrations are marred by the destructive powers of the modern day ‘Herods’ who are represented in the Israeli government.” (“Christmas Reflection” 2000)
· Portrayed Jews/Israel as the Obstacle to Humanity’s Salvation: “Israel has placed a large boulder...that has metaphorically shut off the Palestinians in a tomb. It is similar to the stone placed at the entrance of Jesus’ tomb…” (“Christmas Reflection” 2000)
· Denied Jews a Right to Any State: “By espousing the nationalist tradition of Zionism, [Jews] have relinquished the role of the servant that they have claimed….a revolutionary change from the long-held belief that the Jews have a vocation for suffering.” ( Justice and Only Justice, p. 107)
2. Organized conferences where false accusations are made and dissent is muzzled.
· Distributed literature with false charges against Israel. Sabeel documents repeatedly claim Israel’s administration of the Territories has been “illegal occupation” when in fact it was required by fundamental international law, including the Hague Conventions of 1907 on belligerent occupation, when the Territories fell to Israel during its defensive 1967 War and is to continue until peace is made and a new, legal sovereign governs the belligerent territories. Sabeel repeatedly claims that the “Occupation is deepening” when in fact by 1996, Israel had withdrawn so 98% of Palestinians were self-governing under the PA and in 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from all of Gaza and uprooted four Jewish communities in the northern West Bank.
· Gave a false image of balance by inviting anti-Zionist Israeli or Jewish speakers. Josh Ruebner, Marc Ellis, Jeff Halper and others who regularly speak at Sabeel events are on the outside fringes of the Jewish/Israeli community and do not represent its views or the views of Israel. They accept and disseminate the skewed and dishonest Palestinian narratives.
· Restricted attendance at conferences: Though Sabeel conferences are purportedly open to the public, applicants for its Toronto event had to indicate on the application that they already supported the call for divestment in order to be approved to attend.
3. Implicitly condoned religious intolerance by not condemning or speaking out against escalating Muslim persecution of Christians in the Palestinian Authority.
· Abuse of Christians: PA Christians finally broke their “self-imposed silence,” documenting 93 incidents of abuse and violence by the “Islamic fundamentalist Mafia.” “ Almost every day – I repeat, almost every day – our communities are harassed by the Islamic extremists…and there are clashes with …the Palestinian Authority…”Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa,Custodian of the Holy Land, Sept 4 2005 [i]
· Terrorizing Christian communities: “Hundreds” of Muslim men chanting “Allahu akbar” attacked the PA Christian village of Taiba, torching and looting over 16 homes and businesses, because a Taiba Christian allegedly had a romance with a Muslim woman. September 4-5 2005 [ii]
· Harassment and Rape of Christian girls: “In 2002, two sisters of the Amre family, 17 and 19 years old, were executed by gunshot by a group of men close to the Palestinian Authority. The accusation was prostitution. But the autopsy revealed…they were virgins…and they had been tortured by having lit cigarettes applied to their genitals before they were executed.” Dossier of abuses presented to Jerusalem Christian authorities, Sept 4 2005
4. Organized conferences where false accusations are made and dissent is muzzled.
· Restricted attendance at conferences: Though Sabeel conferences on “Morally Responsible Investment” are supposedly open to the public, applicants for its Toronto event had to indicate they already supported the call for divestment from Israel.
[i] Sandro Magister, “The Custody Must Be Doubled in the Holy Land,” Chiesa, Sept 7 2005 at www.chiesa.espressonline.it/dettaglio.jsp?id=38551&eng=y
[ii] Khaled Abu Toameh, “Muslims Ransack Christian Village,” Jerusalem Post, Sept 5 2005 at www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1125831262546 and Chris McGreal, “Homes Razed in Mob Fury at Couple’s ‘Affair,’ The Guardian, September 5 2005 at www.guardian.co.uk/israel/Story/0,2763,1562709,00.html
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