Meet Bill. Bill is an evangelical Anglican Christian who has spent a few summers on kibbutz in Israel, and has a degree in English Literature. Although he is now based in Buenos Aires, Bill spends much of his time blogging about the situation in Israel, and is concerned with the rise of global antisemitism. Rumoured to be the son of a priest, Bill thinks that in fact, the Anglican Church worries too much about being “even-handed” when it comes to Israel-Palestine, and shouldn’t worry about Christian-Muslim relations so much, but should just stick up for the beleaguered Israelis in Sderot and Ashkelon.
But although Bill claims that he cares about the suffering of Israelis, his care for them seems a bit suspect. Bill, you see, is a Kach supporter. Bill thinks that it is only Kach who have not sold out their values about the need for armed resistance, and sees the Israeli political system as characterised by corruption, as Israelis put their local business interests and the ‘peace process’ above resistance. Bill calls for an end to Israeli and international bans on Kach – after all, how hypocritical can the world be if it maintains diplomatic relations with Sudan but not Kach?
Whilst Bill occasionally distances himself from the anti-Arab ideology of Kach, he doesn’t think that liberal Arab political movements can be truly liberal. He himself is not violent, although he considers Kach’s violent actions and his own non-violent actions against Islamic states as ‘two sides of the same coin’. Bill does not consider Kach to be full of religious extremists, but instead as a legitimate nationalist movement which Christians can pray for.
Although he is a virulent opponent to Islamism because of its religious-nationalistic violence, Bill’s own glorification of the religious-nationalistic violence of Kach suggests to many people that his concern is not peace and justice, but instead Bill is simply prejudiced against Muslims.
Bill wrote an article a couple of years ago on an internet site, in which he asked: ‘Is it possible to “understand” the rise in “anti-Muslim bigotry”?’. Responding to recent statistics showing a rise in negative attitudes towards Muslims across Europe, Bill wrote:
I was somewhat startled by this, since I do not consider myself an anti-Muslim bigot, yet I can also understand why some are. There are, in fact, a number of reasons. One is the state of Sudan, its ideology of racial supremacy and its subsequent crimes committed against the residents of Darfur. It is because Islamists have always sought to equate their totalitarian project with Islam that some misguidedly respond to what they see on their televisions with attacks on Muslims or Muslim property.
I have just provided a by no means comprehensive list of reasons why “I can understand very well that some people are unpleasant towards Muslims.” I do not agree with them, but I can understand.
Yet Bill couldn’t understand unpleasantness when it stared him in the face. When a mosque was firebombed in Scotland last year, Bill considered the situation to be suspicious (after all, Bill reasoned, who would firebomb a mosque which is next to a fire station?), and also to be an attack on his freedoms. Although Bill can understand why some people might be vicious to Muslims, he can’t understand why some people might arrest those plotting violent crimes against Muslims.
Back in 2001, Bill cheerily commented on Momcilo Krajisnik‘s denial of his role in the genocide against non-Serbs. Bill explained:
When Krajisnik said: “I believe in God and in justice and I believe that truth will triumph,” he is drawing attention to the extent to which European nations prosecute genocide deniers, yet are by and large post-Christian societies with little regard for religion. For a devout Orthodox believer like the Serbian leader, this must seem like a strange situation.
Of the massacres of Srebrenica, Bill wrote:
Srebrenica comes to symbolize the intrinsic anti-Muslim racism of ‘dhimmi’ societies, and therefore proving the need for Islamic states. More disturbingly perhaps, Srebrenica as a standard for human depravity set so high, that any treatment of Israelis is justifiable, as long as it falls short of what was experienced by the Bosnians at Sreberenica.
Bill also wrote an article praising American evangelicals who use the Bible to claim that all Muslim states should be dismantled, some of whom had shown hostility and insensitivity towards Muslims. Bill wants to see a global boycott of Muslim states, and thinks that anyone who opposes this is an Islamist.
Yet Bill is not an Islamophobe, he assures us, and warns us that to accuse him of being an anti-Muslim racist would be to lend power to real racists such as Nazis or people who belong to governments of Islamic states.
The Bill whom I have portrayed does not exist, and were he to exist, his views would be considered as racist. Yet whilst Bill’s views would be rightly rejected by the left-leaning clergy at Fulcrum, the same clergy happily promote Ben’s views.
Ben is an evangelical Anglican Christian. Having spent a few summers in the West Bank, Ben is now based in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and writes and blogs about Zionism and Israel-Palestine.
Ben has argued that it is possible to understand why some people are antisemites.
“I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are. There are, in fact, a number of reasons. One is the state of Israel, its ideology of racial supremacy and its subsequent crimes committed against the Palestinians. It is because Zionists have always sought to equate their colonial project with Judaism that some misguidedly respond to what they see on their televisions with attacks on Jews or Jewish property.”
I have just provided a by no means comprehensive list of reasons why “I can understand very well that some people are unpleasant towards Jews.” I do not agree with them, but I can understand.
To interpret agreement with this statement as an indication of anti-Semitism is wrong and intellectually flawed. It can only contribute to real anti-Semitism by the creation of hysteria and polarisation that real racists thrive on, whether they are in a slum in Marseille, a dinner party in Berlin, or the Knesset.
He has repeatedly attacked Zionism as well as lambasting Fatah members for putting local business interests before the resistance. He argues for an end to the international boycott of Hamas, and views Hezbollah as a legitimate, non-jihadist nationalist movement which Christians can pray for. He has accused the Anglican Church of placing too high a value on Jewish-Christian relations. He denies that liberal Zionism truly is liberal. He considers non-violent action against Israel as ‘a means to an end’, and alongside anti-Zionist violence as ‘two sides of the same coin.’
He has tried to contextualise Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial as a rational, religious response to the way the Holocaust has become unquestionable in a post-Christian Europe. He wrote:
The news agency goes on though to report that the President described how “some have created a myth on holocaust and hold it even higher than the very belief in religion and prophets because when a person expresses disbelief in God, religion and prophets they do not object to him but they will protest to anyone who would reject the Holocaust”. Again, Ahmadinejad is drawing attention to the extent to which European nations prosecute Holocaust deniers, yet are by and large post-Christian societies with little regard for religion. For a devout believer like the Iranian President, this must seem like a strange situation.
The Holocaust comes to symbolize the intrinsic anti-Jewish racism of ‘Gentile’ societies, and therefore proving the need for a Jewish state. More disturbingly perhaps, the Holocaust acts as a standard for human depravity set so high, that any treatment of the Palestinians is justifiable, as long as it falls short of what was experienced by the Jews in Nazi Europe.
He viewed a failed bomb plot at a synagogue as an attack on ‘our freedoms’. Although Bill can understand why some people might be vicious to Jews, he can’t understand why some people might arrest those plotting violent crimes against Jews.
All in all, Bill and Ben have some pretty unpleasant views. Their outlooks on global politics are not entirely symmetrical, but there are clear similarities. So if no anti-racist left-winger would ever want to be associated with Bill, why would any anti-racist left-winger want to be associated with Ben?