Bound, gagged and barefoot with machetes at our throats, we were pushed through the trees to the site of our execution. I whimpered, “Please don’t kill us.” One of the terrorists looked me in the eye, put his hand on his heart and declared, “I am good, I not kill.” I believed him. I did so because I subscribed to the delusion of reprieve, the hope that if we did what they say, we would be set free.
Throughout three years, where day has blurred into night, I have relived the horror again and again. I shudder to remember their deranged faces contorted by deluded, perverted, intoxicating power. I recall that unfathomable half hour of helplessness, placating, pleading and promises of liberation, all meshed together in a concoction of sadistic terrorism.
A few months after the attack, I approached a certain “Christ At The Checkpoint,” (CATC) a Christian conference held in Bethlehem. I wanted the opportunity to speak and honour the memory of my murdered, Christian friend. The conference prides itself on being ecumenical and draws a mixed audience of western Christians and Palestinians. One protagonist of the conference is an Israeli Arab. I hoped that the seeming openness of the CATC towards Israelis coupled with the fact that Kristine was a Christian would grant me a platform. I was declined on the grounds, “there is no space” bizarrely concluding, “this is not what the Lord wants.”
I suspect that I was refused because the CATC manifesto does not allow a voice like mine to be heard. It calls only for partisan justice,“There are real injustices taking place in the Palestinian territories and the suffering of the Palestinian people can no longer be ignored.” This bias conveniently ignores Israel’s innocents, Israel’s murdered and Israel’s maimed.
The CATC manifesto also states, “All forms of violence must be refuted unequivocally.” However, they have no qualms about inviting violence into their room, by giving the platform to the likes of personalities from the PA, that hateful organisation which overtly sponsors terrorism. They also have no reservations in inviting Victor Batarseh, the Christian mayor of Bethlehem. Batarseh is a supporter of the savage, Marxist terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The PFLP’s armed division is the Abu Ali Mustapha Brigades, which has carried out many suicide bombings in Israel, murdering civilians.
For any self-respecting person, and especially for Israelis such as myself, the endorsement of terror by association, at a Christian conference, is obscene. Yet it is also a spurn for Palestinian Christians such as the Bethlehem Baptist minister, Naim Khoury. Khoury has been shot three times and his church has been bombed fourteen times because he advocates Zionism based on his understanding of the Bible. Khoury is too busy to care. He is exerting his energy pastoring a vibrant and unexpectedly, flourishing congregation, even though the PA has informed Khoury that his church now lacks the authority to function as a religious institution – announcing this decision the week following CATC. Unlike Khoury, a Christian minister who is always welcome at conference is the Reverend Stephen Sizer.
Sizer, an Anglican priest who oversees an English congregation, has been accused of anti-Semitism – a charge that he vigorously denies. The allegations arose in part due to links that he posted on his numerous blogs that directed people to anti-Semitic sites. Sizer, insistent that he “loves Jews” and “loves Israel,” agreed to remove the links, although he still has photos of himself standing alongside those who advocate the murder of the very Jews and Israelis whom he loves; people such as Yassir Arafat, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Raed Salach and Nabil Kaouk the senior commander of Hezbollah forces in Southern Lebanon.
The Reverend Sizer also asserts, “Israel has the right to live within secure international borders…” He sees no conflict between this exhortation and his dealings with Zahra Mostafavi, the daughter of the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini. Mostafavi participated in an international convention that praised girls who carried out martyrdom and sacrificed their lives for the Palestinian people. Mostafavi sent a letter to Sheik Nasrallah commending him for Jihad. Mostafavi translated Sizer’s book on Christian Zionism into Farsi. This was surely the first and only Christian book to be published by the Khomeinist regime, as the Iranian police arrest Muslim converts to Christianity for distributing Bibles.
When blogger Joe Weisman questioned Sizer’s activities and the company that he keeps, the priest alerted the British police. No charges were pressed and no warnings were issued because no crime had been committed. When all the attention had died down, Sizer astonishingly continued to fan the flames of animosity. He posted another response to a critical blog,“You must take a little more care who you brand as anti-semitic otherwise you too will be receiving a caution from the police… one more reference to me and you will be reported.”
Some have questioned if Stephen Sizer is fit for the office of the Anglican Church. Some continue to be angered at his constant taunting of Jews and the State of Israel. Sizer’s behaviour however is eye-opening. His relentless, attention-seeking exploits testify not of a man who possesses any genuine compassion for others, but rather a self-seeking, immature, emotionally-deprived juvenile who has an insatiable need for affirmation. Like all spoilt children, his sulking should not be taken seriously. Although he continues to have “Israel-tantrums,” and throw his toys out of the cot, Jews and Israelis would do well, for his sake, not to indulge him by being overly angry about his embarrassing behaviour.
Like all the conference protagonists, Sizer claims that he is a peaceful, Christian activist, advocating for justice on behalf of the Palestinians. History has not been kind or fair to the Palestinians. Neither has it been kind or fair to the Kurds, the Polish, the Serbs, the Aborigines, the Native Americans, the Armenians or the Jews. History has not been kind or fair to me either. But it is history. I was a victim of a terror attack but what happened to me does not need to define me. Just as there is more to me than “being stabbed,” there is more to being a Palestinian than being a “victim.”
Together with Ben White and other Christian activists, Sizer identifies with the graffiti on the security barrier, “Injustice, oppression, discrimination, suffering, violence and dehumanisation.” In Israel, I have never gathered with Israeli survivors of terrorism to spray, “Injustice, oppression, discrimination, suffering, violence and dehumanisation,” on the remains of exploded buses. On the contrary, I have participated in art classes with parents who have buried their murdered children. Together we painted portraits, sunsets, flowers and cites. I have even attended comedy clubs, pioneered by parents whose child was bludgeoned to death. I have marvelled at disabled survivors of terrorism running marathons for those in need. I thank G-d for these inspirational Israeli survivors of terrorism who spur me on to celebrate life.
The Palestinians, like any people, should never be denied the opportunity for their pain to be heard. In trauma therapy I was encouraged to embrace my own pain and fears by returning to the forest. My friends gathered around and watched as I knelt on the painful and hallowed ground, clawing in grief at the earth that cried out with Kristine’s blood. They did not leave me on my knees, drowning in my tears, they stretched out their hands and helped me to my feet. Together we then planted a tree in honour of Kristine’s memory. In the place of her gory death, we sowed a seed of life. I thank G-d for people who help me to my feet. I thank G-d for people who soothe my pain and don’t exacerbate it. I thank G-d for people who show me that I am not helpless and I do not need to be a perdurable casualty. I thank G-d that even though my life is not at all what I would have envisioned, it is still very much life. I cannot work six days a week, but at least I can work. I am no longer able to sit and play the piano for hours on end, but at least I can play. I am in pain when I breathe, but at least I am breathing. I thank G-d that I am still alive to count my blessings.
This year at the CATC, Stephen Sizer and others like him, will bully the Palestinians into a world of make-believe. Sizer will do so by making them believe that they are only victims and their lives amount to nothing but perpetual misery. He will do this to build himself up at their expense. He will sadistically hold them hostage in the Shadow of Death, never once urging them to look up to the light that creates that very shadow. He will offer them the Islamist falsity that their aspirations will be fulfilled by virtue of antipathy. Sizer will leave them shackled with resentment. He will not reach out his hand to help them up. He will not urge them to look to Heaven and see the countless signs of wonderful life happening all around.
Metaphorically, Reverend Stephen Sizer will place his chained hands on his heart, just beside the cross which he readily preaches “sets you free.” He will look his victims in the eye and declare, “I am good, I not kill.” I can only hope, that unlike me, the bound and the gagged in this particular able-bodied and well-fed audience, will have the fortitude not to succumb to his futile and deathly delusion of reprieve.