Christmas is here and the Israel-bashers are out in force!
Bethlehem-unwrapped.org is a website that has been set up to promote a series of events “to show what life is like for people in Bethlehem today”. It’s running in London (a hub of Anti Zionist activity) for the next two weeks.
On the homepage there’s a quote from Sami Awad which says:
The most unhelpful thing you can do is be pro one side; it just adds to the conflict.
One of the major activities put on by Bethlehem Unwrapped has been to re-construct Israel’s barrier. This is clearly just presenting the facts. It’s not taking a side. Sure, they haven’t explained why Israel felt the need to construct the barrier in the first place, but that doesn’t matter does it? Who needs context?
Organisers are also very happy to quote from the Kairos document that “the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land is a sin against God and humanity”. But remember, they aren’t being ‘Pro one side’ at all.
Proceeds from this charity event are going to the Amos Trust.
These guys aren’t bias either. They support “peacemakers in Palestine and Israel.” Great! Until you realise that all the Israeli peacemakers the Trust work with are exceptionally critical of their own government. Thankfully because Israel is a democracy, they have the right and freedom to criticise. But its misleading for Amos to posit themselves as supporting both sides.
Nevermind, lets see if we can find some Christmas cheer for Israelis elsewhere in the Christian community.
Christian Aid posted an interesting blog last week. It was titled ‘two sides to every story’. I like the title, so I began reading…
O, little town of Bethlehem! How still we see thee lie,
Between 2000 and 2008, 66 Palestinians died in the West Bank as a result of lack of emergency access to medical facilities, 19 of them children.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, the silent stars go by.
Some people queue from 3am in Bethlehem to pass the checkpoint to get to work in Israel.
Yet in the dark streets shineth the everlasting light,
75% of the population of Gaza is reliant on humanitarian aid for survival.
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
A whole generation of Palestinian children are growing up who have only ever seen Israelis in uniform with guns
I’m still stunned by the sheer audacity of titling a blog ‘two sides to every story’ then writing about one side of that story! The rest of the post didn’t get any better, you can read it here.
I looked into Christian Aid’s take on Israel-Palestine this summer and discovered 6 out of 7 of the “Israeli and Palestinian” organisations they work with were…Palestinian! And the one Israeli organisation was exceptionally critical of its own nation.
It seems to me that the above organisations are still trying to hide behind the ‘We don’t take sides, we just want peace’ mantra. I don’t doubt their desire for peace. But they are taking sides. Clearly the belief is that on the balance of things, the Israeli government is getting more wrong than it is right and the Palestinians are being persecuted.
If that’s what you believe, then please come out and say it and drop the ‘we’re pro both sides’ nonsense.
I’m brave enough to admit that on a lot of the various issues surrounding the conflict, I do take a side. I see things from Israel’s perspective on many of the issues, and I think those perspectives should be heard. I’m not pro Apartheid. I don’t hate Palestinians. I’m not racist. But from my own study of the history and politics of the region, I think Israel have some strong cases and despite their faults are overall a very positive influence on the wider Middle East.
Sadly it seems Christian Aid and Bethlehem Unwrapped are reluctant to give much space to perspectives like mine. They have sided with the Palestinian narrative and should stop claiming otherwise.