Norwegian leader of the World Council of Churches pooh-poohs persecution of Christians in the ME, obsesses about Palestinians

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By Malcolm Lowe

The World Coun­cil of Churches (WCC) in Geneva claims to repre­sent and serve 345 churches world­wide. What has it done to help the perse­cuted churches in Iraq, Syria and Egypt? Or the flood of Syrian refugees into Jor­dan and Leba­non? Answer: it has devoted the whole of 2013 to pro­mo­ting a World Week for Peace in Pale­stine Israel (Sep­tem­ber 22-28). That is, it has poured its Swiss francs into stir­ring up the one cor­ner of the area that is cur­rently almost calm.

It is not as if it is a secret that Mus­lim vio­lence in Iraq drove out half the Chris­tian popu­la­tion wit­hin a decade. Or that affi­li­a­tes of Al-Qaeda have emp­tied whole Syrian vil­la­ges and towns of their Chris­tian popu­la­tions. Or that almost a hundred Cop­tic churches in Egypt were assai­led by sup­por­ters of the Mus­lim Brot­her­hood shortly after Pre­si­dent Morsi was depo­sed. And that was merely one chap­ter in the ongo­ing mar­tyr­dom of the Copts, which has seen 100,000 of them fle­eing Egypt since the down­fall of Pre­si­dent Mubarak.

All such facts are docu­men­ted on many web­si­tes, above all that of Ray­mond Ibra­him, which also records the end­less attacks on Chris­ti­ans in Pakis­tan and Nige­ria, indeed world­wide, by Mus­lim groups. Since August 2011, the Gate­stone Insti­tute has pub­lis­hed his mon­thly roundup of such reports. Look at the web­site of the WCC, how­e­ver, and you will hardly notice any awa­re­ness of all that. Instead, the WCC’s web­site is loa­ded with sche­mes and resources rela­ting to the Pale­sti­ni­ans. The “resources” offer com­pi­la­tions of Pale­sti­nian pro­pa­ganda, inclu­ding calls for the so-called Pale­sti­nian “right of return” (that is, the trans­for­ma­tion of Israel into an Arab-majority state).

The excuse for this absurd imba­lance is that the WCC has main­tai­ned for deca­des, and insists on main­tai­ning against all evi­dence, that the churches of the Middle East have no other real pro­blem than the Pale­sti­nian issue. Ear­lier this year (May 21-25), the WCC held a con­fe­rence on “Chris­tian Pre­sence and Wit­ness in the Middle East” near Bei­rut, Leba­non. Its clos­ing state­ment proclai­med: “Pale­stine con­ti­nues to be the cen­tral issue in the region. Resol­ving the con­flict between Israel and Pale­stine in accor­dance with theUN reso­lu­tions and inter­na­tio­nal law, will greatly help resol­ving the other con­flicts in the region.”


Rifat Odeh Kas­sis, co-author and gene­ral coor­di­na­tor of the WCC’s Kai­ros Pale­stine ini­tia­tive, for­mer head of the WCC’s Ecume­ni­cal Accom­pa­ni­ment Pro­gramme in Pale­stine and Israel, and Spec­ial Advi­ser to the WCC’s Gene­ral Secre­tary, is pic­tu­red above giving an inter­view to Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV. (Photo source: Kai­ros Palestine)


Given the misery that has over­whel­med Chris­ti­ans in the wake of the so-called “Arab Spring,” who in the world still belie­ves such non­sense except inve­te­rate Jew haters? For sure, the WCC could round up a few of the lat­ter among bis­hops in the Middle East, but is that its excuse? How can any sane well-educated church bure­au­crat, of the sort from which the WCC is recruited, make such a state­ment only a two-hour ride away from the tur­moil in Syria, which has sent hund­reds of thou­sands of refugees into the same Leba­non where they were conferring?

Such is the cur­rent level of perse­cution of Chris­ti­ans in Egypt that even theWCC can­not wholly over­look it. On August 15 last, Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, the WCC Gene­ral Secre­tary, sent a brieflet­ter of soli­darity to WCC mem­ber churches in Egypt. In the let­ter, he expressed regret for “attacks against seve­ral churches and pro­per­ties of the Chris­tian com­mu­nity.” The word “seve­ral” shows una­wa­re­ness that alre­ady fifty churches and a thou­sand Chris­tian busi­nes­ses had been set on fire on the day that Pre­si­dent Mursi was dis­mis­sed, accor­ding to Egyp­tian att­or­ney Ehab Ramsy. That is, if Tveit did not deli­be­rately under­state the severity of Cop­tic suffering.

The WCC’s web­site informs us that “in addition to his let­ter” Tveit remar­ked that “I hope that this will not be inter­preted as a con­flict between Chris­ti­ans and Mus­lims.” Who did he think was orga­ni­zing the sys­te­ma­tic assault on Egyp­tian Chris­ti­ans? Balinese Hin­dus? Papuan ani­mists? Marti­ans? Even Amne­sty Inter­na­tio­nal, which is itself other­wise over-busy with the Pale­sti­ni­ans, dared to men­tion – in a detai­led report (six­teen pages with ample illust­ra­tions) on “Egypt’s Chris­ti­ans Caught between Secta­rian Attacks and State Inac­tion” – that Mus­lims were respon­s­ible for the attacks.

The 234 words of Tveit’s let­ter con­sti­tute the WCC’s con­tri­bu­tion to alle­via­ting the suf­fe­ring of ten mil­lion or more Egyp­tian Chris­ti­ans (it is part of their misery that Egypt pro­vi­des no reli­able sta­ti­s­tics). Syrian Chris­ti­ans num­ber some two and a half mil­lion; the WCC’s help for them con­sis­ted of hol­ding a one-day con­fe­rence in Geneva on Sep­tem­ber 18 and issu­ing a call for peace the next day. By con­trast, for the last decade the WCC has been inves­ting real money into pro­mo­ting the Pale­sti­nian cause, alt­hough a mere 50,000 Chris­ti­ans dwell in the West Bank and barely a thou­sand in the Gaza Strip. As an article tit­led “The Myth of Pale­sti­nian Chris­tia­nity” pointed out, there are far more Arabic-speaking Chris­ti­ans in Israel itself, where they enjoy hig­her social sta­tus (edu­ca­tion, income) than even the Jewish population.

For the Pale­sti­ni­ans, the WCC has created a spec­ial branch of its bure­au­cracy: its Pale­stine Israel Ecume­ni­cal Forum (PIEF). On the WCC’s What We Do page, the item “Churches in the Middle East” is defined as follows: “This pro­ject aims to build a Palestine/Israel Ecume­ni­cal Forum as a space where the entire ecume­ni­cal move­ment can put its col­lective energies and resources toget­her for las­ting peace.” In the Middle East, that is, the WCCcares only about Pale­stine and it wants all the churches in the world to share this exclu­sive focus.

The PIEF, created in 2007, is the body that orga­nizes the men­tio­ned “World Week for Peace in Pale­stine Israel.” It has also set up an office in Jeru­sa­lem, the Jeru­sa­lem Inter­church Cen­ter, which seeks to recruit local Chris­ti­ans for acti­vities that pro­mote the Pale­sti­nian cause. An example is the noto­rious Kai­ros Pale­stine Docu­ment, an ini­tia­tive created by WCC emp­loy­ees in con­junc­tion with an unre­pre­sen­ta­tive hand­ful of local Chris­ti­ans, and which the WCC has bom­bar­ded upon its mem­ber churches.

The WCC’s most lavishly fun­ded Pale­sti­nian pro­ject, how­e­ver, is its Ecume­ni­cal Accom­pa­ni­ment Pro­gram in Pale­stine and Israel (EAPPI), now in its twelfth year. The dedi­cated web­site of this WCC off­shoot defi­nes its pur­pose as follows: EAPPI “brings inter­na­tio­nals to the West Bank to expe­ri­ence life under occu­pa­tion. Ecume­ni­cal Accom­pa­ni­ers (EAs) pro­vide pro­tec­tive pre­sence to vul­ne­rable com­mu­nities, moni­tor and report human rights abu­ses and sup­port Pale­sti­ni­ans and Israe­lis wor­king toget­her for peace. When they return home, EAs cam­paign for a just and peace­ful reso­lu­tion to the Israeli/Palestinian con­flict through an end to the occu­pa­tion, respect for inter­na­tio­nal law and imple­men­ta­tion of UN resolutions.”

The “inter­na­tio­nals” are recruited mainly from Western Pro­tes­tant churches and they spend just three mon­ths gai­ning their “expe­ri­ence” (read: inten­sive indoc­tri­na­tion in Pale­sti­nian “nar­ra­ti­ves” the veracity of which they have no chance to check). Why only three mon­ths? Because this is the length of a stan­dard Israeli tou­rist visa, so they can come and go as tou­rists wit­hout being noticed. On their return, they are requi­red to spend as much time tou­ring their churches to pro­mote the mes­sage that they have learned.

Here we see the real evil that results from this scheme. Through EAPPI, the bure­au­c­racies of the rich Pro­tes­tant churches have been con­vin­ced that the only thing that they need to worry about in the Middle East is the Pale­sti­nian situa­tion. All the mis­sion resources of Western Pro­tes­tants are focu­sed on Pale­stine and their rele­vant bure­au­crats are just as totally obsessed with the issue as is the WCC itself. The perse­cuted Chris­ti­ans of Iraq, Syria and Egypt may as well go hang.

Why, one might ask, has the WCC not even thought of set­ting up “accom­pa­ni­ment” pro­grams for countries where Chris­ti­ans are dying and their churches are wit­he­ring away? One answer is the pre­pos­terous lie pro­pa­gated by theWCC, as quoted above: that Pale­stine is the “cen­tral issue” and that sol­ving this issue will res­cue the Chris­ti­ans peri­sh­ing elsewhere in the Middle East.

Anot­her answer is sheer cowar­dice. The main task of EAPPI inter­na­tio­nals, apart from liste­ning to unve­ri­fi­able Pale­sti­nian tales, is to watch Pale­sti­ni­ans go through Israeli check­points. The num­ber of check­points has been dra­s­ti­cally redu­ced in recent years and the Israeli aut­hori­ties are intro­du­cing quicker and surer means of iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, so not much risk there. If theEAPPI inter­na­tio­nals want a little whiff of dan­ger, they can go on a Fri­day to watch – from a safe dis­tance of course – a ritual battle between Pale­sti­nian youths throwing sto­nes and Israeli sol­di­ers respon­ding with tear gas. In Egypt or Syria, on the other hand, they would have faced a real dan­ger from machine guns, arson or bom­bar­d­ment with con­ven­tio­nal and che­mical weapons.

For­tu­nately for the Chris­ti­ans of the Middle East, the Vati­can never joined the WCC and merely sends obser­vers on the rare occa­sions when the WCCremem­bers its ori­gi­nal pur­pose: to encourage theo­lo­gical discus­sions about divi­ded Chris­tia­nity. In Syria and Egypt, Cat­h­o­lics of the Fran­cis­can Order, among others, are courage­ously facing serious dan­ger in pro­vi­ding aid to perse­cuted Chris­ti­ans of all denominations.

Unlike the WCC and the Western Pro­tes­tant churches influ­en­ced by its obses­sion with Pale­stine, the Rus­sian Ortho­dox Church has assu­med a real finan­cial bur­den on behalf of Syrian Chris­ti­ans. In August this year, the Moscow Patri­ar­chate trans­ferred over a mil­lion dol­lars to the Greek Ortho­dox Patri­ar­chate of Antioch to aid them. “Dona­tions were coming from dioce­ses, paris­hes, monas­te­ries, and indi­vi­duals from various cities, inclu­ding Kali­nin­grad, Vla­di­vostok, Yeka­te­rin­burg, Syk­tyv­kar, Saransk, Mur­mansk, Pskov, Oren­burg, Vol­go­grad, Tula, and even Krymsk which under­went deva­s­ta­ting floods last year,” the Moscow Patri­ar­chate noted. “Money was also trans­ferred to the account of the Depart­ment for Church Charity and Social Ser­vice from Israel, Arme­nia, Italy, Ger­many, and other countries.”

Yes, even Rus­sian Ortho­dox in Israel made a con­tri­bu­tion. Likewise, the Greek Ortho­dox Patri­ar­chate of Jeru­sa­lem is wor­king among Syrian refugees in Jor­dan. There are also Jewish groups in Israel that have taken upon them­sel­ves the dan­gerous task of sup­ply­ing food and medi­cal sup­plies to vic­tims of Syria’s civil war. At the same time, hund­reds of woun­ded Syri­ans have been smugg­led into Israel to rece­ive medi­cal care in hos­pi­tals, pro­vi­ded free, while the Israeli army has set up a field hos­pi­tal near the bor­der for less urgent cases. In Israeli medi­cal insti­tu­tions, of course, Mus­lims and Chris­ti­ans work along­side Jews to pro­vide treat­ment for eve­ryone, enab­ling easy com­mu­ni­ca­tion with Syrian Arabs. So here is the para­dox: the WCCrelent­les­sly spre­ads discre­dit of Israe­lis in churches world­wide, while Israe­lis are doing vastly more than the WCC to help vic­tims of the vio­lence in Syria.

Let us note what the WCC is, and what it is not. It descri­bes itself as an orga­niza­tion of “345 mem­ber churches repre­sen­ting over 500 mil­lion Chris­ti­ans in more than 110 countries and ter­ri­to­ries.” This aspect of its exist­ence, how­e­ver, is in evi­dence only once every few years when it orga­nizes an assem­bly or a con­fe­rence. For the rest of the time, the WCC is no more than a bunch of bure­au­crats at its Geneva office. Its acti­vities and decla­ra­tions are deter­mined by them and them alone. When one of them reti­res, the others choose a succes­sor. Pre­pon­derantly, they come from a small num­ber of Pro­tes­tant churches in North Ame­rica and northern Europe. Excep­tio­nally, during 2004-2009 the Gene­ral Secre­tary was a Kenyan, but he sud­denly resig­ned after ques­tions were raised about his doc­to­rate. The cur­rent incum­bent, Tveit, is a Nor­we­gian Lutheran.

Those Pro­tes­tant churches are the ones most in thrall to the WCC’s Pale­sti­nian agenda. Con­si­der, for example, Robert O. Smith, who is a co-moderator of the WCC’s PIEF, as well as cove­ring Europe and the Middle East on behalf of a major US Luthe­ran church (the ELCA). Smith is con­stant cri­tic, or rat­her deni­gra­tor, of Chris­tian Zio­nism, whether in his doc­to­rate, his artic­les or a recent book.

Anot­her example is the US Pres­by­te­ri­ans (PCUSA). Their Middle East bure­au­crats have for years tried to drag the church into a pro-Palestinian stance. Many of the laity, how­e­ver, are oppo­sed, whether because of sym­pathy for Israel or resent­ment at being dictated to by those bure­au­crats. So every two years a battle is fought out at the PCUSA’s Gene­ral Assem­bly. Both sides invest large amounts of money to mus­ter sup­port, money that despe­ra­tely poor Egyp­tian Cop­tic fami­lies could have used much bet­ter. To date, the bure­au­crats have mostly lost, but only until the next Gene­ral Assembly.

In the PCUSA, at least, Pres­by­te­rian democra­tic prin­cip­les still func­tion. Not so in various Euro­pean Pro­tes­tant churches, where the laity is less able to exert itself. Elsewhere, I have docu­men­ted how deeply fla­wed pro-Palestinian reports were offi­ci­ally accep­ted by the Bri­tish Met­ho­dists and the Church of Scot­land. The first major church to go in this direc­tion, how­e­ver, was the Church of Sweden. In such instan­ces, what has arrived is a new kind of replace­ment theo­logy: the Pale­sti­ni­ans have become the Cho­sen People and the Kai­ros Pale­stine Docu­ment takes pre­ce­dence over the Bible. Indeed, while these churches encourage severe cri­ti­cism of the Bible, Kai­ros Pale­stine is treated as infal­lible Holy Writ.

It is not sur­pri­sing that churches that have dis­car­ded the fun­da­men­tals of Pro­tes­tant theo­logy have also suf­fe­red a mas­sive drop in mem­ber­ship, finan­cial cri­ses and a gene­ral loss of direc­tion in recent deca­des. That con­nec­tion was pointed out in a mas­terly ana­ly­sis by Dex­ter Van Zile three years ago; the inter­vening time has merely con­fir­med it. He wrote when PCUSA mem­ber­ship was drop­ping at around 3% annually; in 2012 it was 5.26%. ELCAmem­ber­ship has drop­ped 5.95%, 4.98% and 2.68% during 2010-2012.

The agenda of the WCC’s con­fe­ren­ces and assem­blies, along with any state­ments issued, are also deter­mined in Geneva. A Fran­cis­can fri­end was once invited to such a show. When he arrived, he was told that his task was to read out a gre­eting from the Chris­ti­ans of the Holy Land. Look­ing at the text that was thrust into his hand, he pro­te­sted that he had never seen it before, that he had cer­tainly not brought it from the Holy Land, and that there were things obviously wrong in it. No, he was told, he must read it out exactly as it was.

Simi­larly, the upcoming Tenth Assem­bly of the WCC (Octo­ber 30-November 8 in Busan, Korea) is alre­ady fully pre­de­ter­mined. The theme dictated from Geneva, “God of life, lead us to jus­tice and peace,” is a give­away: “peace and jus­tice” is a fami­liar slo­gan of pro-Palestinian pro­pa­ganda. The Hand­book of the Tenth Assem­bly indeed shows that EAPPI and Kai­ros Pale­stine will be strongly featu­red, along with the “Eco-Justice of Palestine.”

What is Eco-Justice, one might won­der? Answer: “The speak­ers will address the daily inju­s­tices of the occu­pa­tion and the cri­ti­cal con­dition of the environ­ment in the Holy Land. Water shor­tage, issues of solid-waste mana­ge­ment and food sover­eignty, are all pres­sing con­cerns for Pale­sti­ni­ans. Addres­sing how these con­cerns affect the human popu­la­tion eco­no­mically, cul­turally, and psycho­lo­gically, the work­shop will inform par­ti­ci­pants about eco-justice and fos­ter a discus­sion on the neces­sity for inter­na­tio­nal soli­darity on this issue.”

Just don’t expect them to men­tion such issues as the Pale­sti­nian Authority’s refu­sal to engage in joint sew­age treat­ment pro­jects with Israel, the immense was­tage in the leaky water mains of Pale­sti­nian cities, or the ille­gally dug wells that have cau­sed the water table of Gaza to become poll­uted with sea­wa­ter. No, the Pale­sti­ni­ans will make Israel the scape­goat, as usual, for all their own sins against the environment.

At the begin­ning of last year, Prof. Haim Gwirz­man of Bar-Ilan University’sBESA Cen­ter pub­lis­hed a total refuta­tion of all the often-repeated Pale­sti­nian lies about their water situa­tion. A sum­mary of his fin­dings can also be found here. It is typi­cal of Pale­sti­nian pro­pa­ganda, how­e­ver, that the same old lies are con­stantly repeated, never mind how often or how tho­roughly they have been refuted. And never mind when Chris­ti­ans do the same. When Israel is to be besmir­ched, truth is imma­te­rial – just one of the links between anti-Israelism and antisemitism.

On the other hand, the words “Syria,” “Egypt,” “Iraq” and “Leba­non” occur now­here in theHand­book for the WCC’s upcoming assem­bly. The word “Jor­dan” featu­res only in the name of the “Environ­men­tal Edu­ca­tion Cen­ter of the Evan­ge­li­cal Luthe­ran Church in Jor­dan and the Holy Land,” the pre­sen­ter of the non­sense work­shop on “Eco-Justice.” Once again, the WCC will totally ignore the truly pres­sing mise­ries of Middle East Chris­ti­ans in favor of pro-Palestinian agitation.

Yes, you may object, but surely there is much more on the agenda of the Tenth Assem­bly? Put it the other way round: if the other ses­sions are on a simi­larly low level, why go half way round the world to get there? Let who­e­ver can spare the time look throug­hout the Hand­book and draw their con­clu­sions. They may find that the WCC is uncon­cerned about what is on offer, pro­vi­ded that all par­ti­ci­pants go home with a fixa­tion on Palestine.

This leads to a broa­der ques­tion: Who needs the WCC any more? Would the world, let alone Middle East Chris­ti­ans, be bet­ter off wit­hout it? When theWCC was foun­ded in 1948, it was highly unusual that lea­ders of diverse churches con­ferred toget­her. Today it is com­mon­place and faci­li­tated by quick and cheap air trans­port. Popes and pre­la­tes whizz around eve­rywhere. If the WCC sim­ply dis­appea­red, it would end a con­ve­ni­ent par­king place for Pro­tes­tant bure­au­crats who feel bored or out of place in their par­ti­cu­lar churches. But who else would miss it?

As for this year’s “World Week for Peace in Pale­stine Israel,” its impact seems to have been rat­her small. PIEF pub­lis­hed a brief note about par­ti­ci­pa­tion “in at least 22 countries world­wide” toget­her with a more detai­led list. It amounts to say­ing that in just 20% of the WCC’s “more than 110 countries and ter­ri­to­ries” at least one church respon­ded. In Ger­many, for instance, only an event in the city of Essen is men­tio­ned. Under “USA” no events are listed, just pray­ers issued by a board of the Uni­ted Met­ho­dist Church and by the Pres­bytery of Atlanta. In “Rus­sia and Ukraine” only a Met­ho­dist church par­ti­ci­pa­ted. It can hardly be descri­bed as a mass move­ment. Rat­her, it is a secta­rian cult with its own comic rituals.

One of those rituals is a “game of chance” cal­led “Occu­pa­tion: a game of life.” It is mode­led upon “sna­kes and lad­ders” and is sup­po­sed to depict Pale­sti­nian misery. You can see here Bis­hop Wil­liam Kenny and Rev. Paul Dean hop­ping around in this fashion under the gaze of Pale­sti­nian Luthe­ran Bis­hop You­nan in Lon­don. The inventors of this game call them­sel­ves “Embrace the Middle East,” so they ought to invent ver­sions for Syrian and Egyp­tian Chris­ti­ans under the rubric of “a game of death.” (“Mono­poly,” after all, is avai­lable in all sorts of natio­nal ver­sions.) Only then the hop­ping cle­rics would have to simu­late hor­rible deaths on cer­tain squa­res. On others, they would have to empty their pock­ets to pay the jizya tax extor­ted from Copts by Mus­lim gang­s­ters.

The WCC’s own con­tri­bu­tion was to be a mass pil­grimage to Jeru­sa­lem, but it seems not to have mate­ria­lized. PIEF’s list does not men­tion it. There were rumors about a couple of dozen such “pil­grims” rece­i­ving inten­sive instruc­tion in a Bethle­hem con­vent, a kind of EAPPI crash course. If it hap­pe­ned, it was mini­mal in compa­ri­son with the thou­sands of Chris­tian Zio­nists who, that same week, were at the Feast of Taber­nac­les Con­fe­rence orga­nized by the Inter­na­tio­nal Chris­tian Embassy in Jeru­sa­lem. The Israeli press noticed only the lat­ter, mar­ching through the stre­ets and waving their natio­nal flags amid a tra­ditio­nal parade of Israeli organizations.

During those very days, Sep­tem­ber 22-28, the world media had no time for the WCC; all eyes were fixed on the attack upon a shop­ping mall in Kenya by Somali Mus­lim ter­ro­rists. Eve­ryone heard and read the hor­ri­fy­ing reports of how the ter­ro­rists first dis­mis­sed any who could prove them­sel­ves to be Mus­lims, then inflicted gro­tes­que tor­tu­res on others before mur­de­ring them. Fear of Isla­mic extre­mism, not wor­ry­ing about Pale­stine, has the stron­ger grip on most in the West.

Even the Pale­sti­nian press seems to have ignored the WCC’s scheme. Ins­pec­tion of the pages of Al-Quds for that week did not turn up any refe­rence, though various other dele­ga­tions were duly recor­ded. Maybe some event among those listed by PIEF under “Pale­stine” was men­tio­ned somewhere, but the refe­rence must have been very brief.

Finally, let us look at PIEF’s recom­men­da­tion for church ser­vices on Sun­day, Sep­tem­ber 22. It was entit­led “To pray you need a mili­tary per­mit” and con­sis­ted of a two­fold ritual. First of all: “Block your own church entrance with bar­bed wire or a bar­rier, expla­i­ning that mem­bers of the con­gre­ga­tion do not have the pro­per per­mit to enter church.” This is cer­tainly more con­ve­ni­ent than sen­ding in gun­men to shoot indiscri­mi­nately, throw bombs, tear down and destroy pic­tu­res, smash cros­ses, and set the place on fire. That is, if they wan­ted to simu­late the expe­ri­ence of Chris­ti­ans in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Pakis­tan or Nigeria.

The second part of the ritual was to read aloud a state­ment issued by the Heads of Churches in Jeru­sa­lem last Eas­ter, after a fra­cas at a police bar­rier in the Old City of Jeru­sa­lem. The state­ment com­plai­ned about “great sor­row and pain for some of our fai­th­ful because they were ill-treated by some Israeli policemen.”

Well, you can see for yours­el­ves a video of the inci­dent. Alt­hough the Jeru­sa­lem Post obli­gingly entit­led the story “Video shows Jeru­sa­lem Police assault elderly priest,” the video tells a dif­fe­rent story. The priest con­cerned obviously tried to force his way through a police bar­rier and had to be restrai­ned. Anyone less august might have been arrested for defy­ing police instruc­tions and using force against police officers.

One who has observed many Eas­ters in Jeru­sa­lem can easily explain what the police proce­dure is. The pro­blem is that stre­ets around the Holy Sepul­chre are very nar­row, making it almost impos­sible for large num­bers of people to move simul­tane­ously in both direc­tions. So the police cor­don off the whole area with bar­riers and estab­lish dis­tinct entry points and exit points, such that the flow of the fai­th­ful is always in one direction.

The priest con­cerned, iden­ti­fied as the head of the Cop­tic Church in Ramal­lah, only nee­ded to go to one of the desig­nated entry points. But he thought that he and his fri­ends should be an excep­tion; when he tried to force his way through somewhere else, the police stop­ped him. The Copts were furious and the Heads of Churches, irre­spec­tive of the rights of the mat­ter, issued a state­ment of soli­darity in order to save the face of the Cop­tic Church.

So we see that it is a plain lie to pre­sent such a ritual under the title “To pray you need a mili­tary per­mit.” An appro­priate title would be “To enter the church, please use the north door.” At the other doors of the church, instead of bar­bed wire, one should hang up such a notice. But who could get excited about that?

2 comments for “Norwegian leader of the World Council of Churches pooh-poohs persecution of Christians in the ME, obsesses about Palestinians

  1. martin
    October 24, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Let us not forget the Jew hating messages from Martin Luther, so his church still lives within that period and probably always will.

    I can only repeat again the Christian demise in the Islamic controlled countries and areas. When Israel handed over King David’s city of Bethlehem (Bet Lekhem or house of bread) the whole square was filled with banners stating in Arabic “Today the Jews, tomorrow the Christians.” Any land with a non Islamic majority these days is considered controlled by the “Kuffirs.” Bethlehem, was once a city with a rough 50% Christian 50% Muslim population. Since the PA was give “control” the Christian population fallen to 20%. Do not be surprised that within the next 10 years, Bethlehem will be virtually cleansed of its Christian minority. After all., what happened to the ethnic cleansing of Jews is today being repeated towards the Christian.

    The Church is confused by its ancient hate of Jewish controlled land in the land of Israel and failure to accommodate the Muslims as equal partners.

  2. Harry
    October 26, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    I fully agree with you, Martin. The good thing is that this type of supersession theology is shrinking, as the theology of the western churches gradually will be outnumbered by evangelical Christians. It is this type of Christianity that is on the rise worldwide, in Asia, Latin America and Africa. And these Christians have got as a “birth gift” a deep love and sympathy for Israel, manifested in the Jerusalem March during the Feast of Tabernacles this autumn. Soon the supersession theologians can sit in their Ivory Towers with no one to talk to but themselves.

    I just had a letter in my local newspaper about ‘The antisemitic week’ under the auspices of Mellomkirkelig Råd and WCC, in which I gave them a beating!

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