One of the nastiest perversions of Christianity in the world today – the attempted demonisation and isolation of Israel –has been carried out by, among other bodies religious, a German Protestant Church, under, naturally, the World Council of Churches.
One would think a German church, of all things, would hesitate before sticking a toe in the filthy pool of anti-Semitism. Anyway, its Australian equivalents are some way but not all that far behind.
The WCC and liberation theology in general, Catholic and Protestant, have been singing a bit smaller since the fall of the Soviet Union, but are still with us, with hatred of Israel replacing their previous leit-motif of anti-anti-Communism, while their attitude to the almost daily Islamic atrocities remains conciliatory,
Australian academic Bill Rubinstein, writing in last October’s Quadrant, pointed out that attacks on Israel and ‘Christian Zionism’ (ie pro-Israel evangelical churches) have become the No. 1 cause of progressive churches in much of the Western worlds, in some cases trumping even homosexual marriage.
Rubinstein comments ‘the Presbyterian Church of the USA is simply obsessed with its deep hostility to Israel. Not towards, say, Saudi Arabia, where no Christian may set foot.’ In North Africa Boko Haram and other Islamic groups murder Christians wholesale – the Christian death-toll may be in six figures for the last few years -without a word of reproof from liberal clerics. The WCC’s silence is as loud now as was its silence during the Cold War regarding the Soviet Gulag.
The same double standards prevail in the equivalent Australian churches, particularly sections of the Uniting Church which attack Israel ceaselessly, but say virtually nothing about the murderous intolerance of the Islamic countries and societies or Islamc terrorism in the West.
The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the WCC invited member churches and civil society organisations to join together in 2014 for a week of anti-Israel advocacy and action. PIEF supports the virulently anti-Semitic BDS movement, aimed at marginalising and de-legitimising the State of Israel, and ignores the atrocities committed by Palestinians against Israelis. Isis likewise does not seem to appear on the progressive Christian radar, despite crucifying Christian girl captives who refuse to convert.
Either spontaneously or in obedience to the diktats of the WCC, the Uniting Church in Australia has placed a ‘prayer for peace’ online which, while trying at first to give an impression of even-handedness, contains the unprayerful words: ‘In July, 2011, the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly Standing Committee resolved, on behalf of the Assembly, to join the boycott of products produced in the illegal Israeli Settlements within the Palestinian Territory of the West Bank.’
The WCC helped publish a book Christians and Muslims: The Dialogue Activities of the World Council of Churches and their Theological Foundation which demands the West ‘abandon its pro-Israeli attitude.’ The latest clerical anti-Israel campaign turns upon allegations that it is stealing ‘Palestinians’’ water. To a student of religious history it may bear some resemblance to the medieval anti-Semitic libel of Jews poisoning water.
On Ash Wednesday, the WCC and its subsidiaries launched a campaign, ‘Seven Weeks for Water’ at a (German) Lutheran Church in Jerusalem, with anti-Israel activists in attendance, including someone called the Co-Coordinator of the Ecumenical Water Network (an absence of a sense of the ridiculous in its titles is one of liberation theology’s distinguishing characteristics). Israeli sources say there is a ‘water crisis’ in Arab areas but that this is due to backward agricultural methods, wastage, and failure to provide adequate infrastructure. This was also the impression I received when visiting. Israel leads the world in dry-land farming techniques.
There is also the question of how far the Palestinian Arabs’ own leaders are responsible for keeping their own people as ‘victims’ for international propaganda.
Something called the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace (PJP – how quickly one gets lost in the jungle of acronyms!), was launched in 2013 by the WCC Assembly.The Ecumenical Water Network (EWN), in 2008. The WCC’s press center advertised its Seven Weeks for Water campaign as a ‘pilgrimage of water justice in the Middle East, with specific reference to Palestine.’ Meanwhile, a woman Member of the Palestine Legislative Council, Abu Bakr, has been sheltering within the council building in Ramallah since President Abbas ordered her arrest. Her crime? Blowing the whistle on the financial corruption of a cabinet minister closely associated with the President. She claims that the minister has been privately selling water to Palestinians and has illegally taken more than $200,000 from the Palestinian budget. There has not, of course, been one word about this from the WCC.
The WCC, associated ecumenical movements, and the web of organisations and relationships between them defy an organisational chart, or accountability, unlike government corporations which are, in Western countries, subject to parliamentary or other scrutiny, or private corporations which must publish balance-sheets and be accountable.
The PJP and the EWN are closely interlinked. The intent of launching the Seven Weeks for Water campaign was made plain by General Secretary of the WCC, Rev Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, in his Jerusalem church sermon: ‘As the WCC’s Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace is focused on issues of the Middle East, particularly in this year, we hope your stories and struggle for justice and peace will become the stories and struggle for the churches around the world. May this Lenten season help us to reflect on these issues more deeply. May the Seven Weeks for Water during this Lent help us to highlight the water crisis in Palestine …’
Mr Dinesh Suna, the Coordinator of the EWN wrote on his Facebook page: ‘The IRG meeting of the WCC’s PJP started today at Bethlehem. To set the tone of the discussion we went to listen to stories of struggle to end occupation of Palestine by Israel’ (‘Struggle’? Suicide bombings, perhaps? Knifings of women and children?). ‘It was quite a touching moment for us to hear these stories…’
Any doubt whose side the WCC and the progressive churches are on now? While the progressive churches are losing membership hand-over-fist, in Australia, America and Europe, the demographically young, and very often pro-Israel, evangelical churches, are flourishing. The formation of the Australia-Israel Association in WA in 2014, held at an evangelical church, drew an overflow crowd.