Category Archives: bigotry

Palestine Day at St Thomas Church, Hanwell

St Thomas Church of Hanwell is allowing the Friends of Al Aqsa to host a politically-minded event in its church for its ‘Palestine Day’. Friends of Al Aqsa is run by Ismail Patel, a Hamas supporter who thinks Disney is a Jewish conspiracy, and rallies against Israel and her supporters.

This is the kind of peaceful rhetoric you can expect from the Ismail Patel:

But is St Thomas Church, Hanwell aware of Ismail Patel’s views? And if so, why is the church providing Patel’s group with a platform?


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The United Church has a Jewish problem


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BNP “Christian Council” uses God to justify racism

Read about this on There is Nothing British about the BNP.

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Facts about Hamas

Reuters have just published a FACTBOX about Hamas. Do read it. These facts are worth bearing in mind next time you hear that the lack of peace in the Middle East is only due to Israel.

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Limerick 1904/Kelowna 2009

Shame on the United Church of Canada if they follow through with their proposals for a boycott of Israel, which are currently being discussed in Kelowna.

According to the Vancouver Sun, the four resolutions call for a “comprehensive boycott of Israeli academic and cultural institutions at the national and international levels”. Furthermore, pro-Israel advocacy group Camera complains that UCC members have been pushing a faulty analogy between Israel and apartheid South Africa in order to justify the boycott proposals.

However, the UCC are insisting the proposals are not intended to be antisemitic. Their spokesman Reverend Bruce Gregersen commented:

The Canadian Jewish Congress has consistently argued that language that seeks to undermine the existence of the state of Israel is anti-Semitic. And we would agree with that[…] But these proposals are not meant to undermine the state of Israel but rather calling on them to make moves towards peace. In 2003, the Church said that we affirm the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. And that’s a significant commitment. What is means is that we are strongly supportive of the existence of Israel for the sake of the Jewish people in the world.

The UCC doesn’t seem to grasp a simple point: just because you are not being racist deliberately does not mean you are not being racist.

Does the UCC not realise the history of church boycotts against Jews? For most Jews this boycott will have nothing to do with the Middle East. This policy will be interpreted as the next shameful episode of Christian antisemitism. It will be an embarrassment for the church itself, and will cause more harm than good.

The Kelowna boycott is intended to hurt Israeli businesses. It will also affect Jews with cultural and academic links to Israel, and will lead to the exclusion of individual Israelis who hold similar political views on Israel/Palestine to the UCC. People will be shunned from public life because of where they are born.

As for historical resonances, you can learn about the 1904 Limerick Boycott here, which was inspired by clergyman Fr John Creagh.

Justifying his decision to boycott Jewish business in the Northern Whig, 8 Feb 1904, Creagh wrote:

“…and, as for the Jews in business, I am quite prepared to admit that there are many who are irreproachable. What people have been pleased to call my crusade has been directed only against a class of Jewish traders who grind and oppress those who are unfortunate enough to get into their power – who exact extortionate sums under the instalment system from those who can ill afford to pay them.”

The United Church of Canada should be able to show its desire for peace between Israelis and Palestinians without excluding persons and businesses of either nationality.

Yet clergy-led boycotts of Jews are a part of a shameful history of Christian antisemitism that should be shunned by all churches which are serious about avoiding racism and discrimination.


Filed under bigotry, boycotts

Stormfront discuss Norwich North

On Liberal Conspiracy, Cath Elliot draws attention to the neo-Nazi discussion board Stormfront, who want to deport her in response to her article on the BNP’s lies in Norwich North, where the BNP’s clergyman Robert West ran for election.

Eliot notes an interesting contribution on the Stormfront message board from a BNP supporter:

“Its time to drop the reverend. Having a fake vicar puts us down with the crank candidates and thats where our vote has ended up.

People aren`t stupid ( well actually they are on the whole) but they have seen through this fake Reverend gimmick.”

And it seems that BNP supporters aren’t the only ones not entirely convinced by Robert West’s Christianity.

Have a look at this discussion:

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Daniel Blanche and the democratic people’s republics

In his review of Ben White’s book, evangelical blogger Daniel Blanche compares the Jewish character of the state of Israel to the BNP:

[…] it defines itself in ethno-religious terms. Only Jews can be Israeli nationals; all Jews are welcome in Israel. Imagine if someone suggested that Britain should define itself in terms of a particular ethnic identity! Oh, wait, that would be the BNP – and we don’t like them, right?
Ultimately, Ben argues that Israel/Palestine must be a place where Jews and Palestinians are equal under the law, and a state which exists for the good of all its citizens. This is much more radical than the two-state solution, much more difficult to move towards than even that mirage. But anything else enshrines racism as a successful nation building strategy.
The world really doesn’t want to go there.

Blanche is then asked a simple question by a reader:

Do you consider states like the ARAB Republic of Egypt or the
Great Socialist People’s Libyan ARAB Jamahiriya to be intrinsically racist? If not, then why do believe that of the world’ one Jewish state?

To which Blanche replies:

1. I am as bothered by Hamas as I am by Israel, except that Israel makes claims (to liberal democracy) that Hamas doesn’t, and therefore invites the world to hold it to a higher standard.

2. Likewise, I am unimpressed by countries which define themselves as Islamic, or in terms of any other ethnic/religious identification. Also likewise, if they were to make pretensions to liberal democracy I would be even less impressed.

So Blanche is unimpressed because Israel claims to be a liberal democracy (which it is), yet doesn’t seem to notice that Libya describes itself as a ‘Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya’. Well, is it great? Is it socialist (i.e. does it care for its citizens)?

From the U.S. Department of State on Libya:

The government’s human rights record remained poor. Citizens did not have the right to change their government. Reported torture, arbitrary arrest, and incommunicado detention remained problems. The government restricted civil liberties and freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and association. The government did not fully protect the rights of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees. Other problems included poor prison conditions; impunity for government officials; lengthy political detention; denial of fair public trial; infringement of privacy rights; restrictions of freedom of religion; corruption and lack of transparency; societal discrimination against women, ethnic minorities, and foreign workers; trafficking in persons; and restriction of labor rights.

Does Blanche have anything to say about the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya? Is he disappointed that Gaddafi’s brutal regime does not live up to socialist ideals, nor truly serve the people it claims are proud of Libya?

Or let’s consider the Arab Republic of Egypt. Here’s the first definition of ‘republic’ I found:

1. a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them.

The same state which ordered the culling of thousands of pigs belonging mostly to poor Coptic Christians as a response to swine flu, and the same state which ordered the arrest of innocent citizens, prompting Ben White himself to write an entire article about human rights in Egypt. Is not Blanche appalled that Egypt considers itself a republic?

Then we have the Republic of Sudan, responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Darfuris. How is Sudan’s republic acting like a true republic? Surely Daniel Blanche should be far more disturbed by Sudan than he is by Israel?

How about Islamic states which themselves claim to be democracies? What about the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, responsible for disapperances, tortures, massacres, and various other crimes against human rights? Is not Algeria an offence to democratic ideals? Is it really democratic to slap fines on Christian minorities? How does Blanche cope with Algeria’s claims to be democratic?

And, lest we forget, the Islamic Republic of Iran, which also claims to be democratic, and yet really fails to be. The president of Iran’s democratic republic, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, remains in power due to a campaign of rape and murder. Iran, that bastion of freedom where Christians fear for their lives. Surely Blanche is appalled that Iran also claims to be a democracy?

Daniel Blanche claims that Israeli democracy invites the world to hold it to a higher standard, yet why does Blanche not appear to hold Iran or Algeria to similar standards, despite their claims to be democracies?

Finally, we have the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a state where over 200,000 people (including 40,000-60,000 Christians) are imprisoned; a nation which has been making headlines recently for all the wrong reasons. This is a nation which claims to be a Great, Revolutionary Society, and look what life is like for North Koreans!

Perhaps Blanche will soon be drawing our attention to North Korean human rights issues, given that North Korea claims to be a democracy. Perhaps Blanche will soon be comparing the aforementioned republics and democracies to the BNP. Otherwise, Blanche’s claim that he holds Israel to a higher standard solely because it is a democracy appears insincere.


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UCCF blogger gives Carte Blanche to ‘Israeli Apartheid Guide’

The Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship (UCCF) blogger Daniel Blanche reviews Ben White’s new book at Shiny Ginger Thoughts:

So, my friend Ben wrote a book. As a result of writing this book, and of the other work he does, my friend Ben was denounced as an antisemite and a holocaust denier. To reassure you, he is certainly neither of those things. But he has written a controversial book.

Ben White was not ‘denounced as an antisemite and a holocaust denier’ as a result of writing this book. Back in 2002, White wrote that he does not consider himself an antisemite, but he understands why some are. In 2006, White argued that Ahmadinejad wasn’t really denying the Holocaust when he called the Holocaust a ‘myth’. Following widespread public criticism of White’s book, White condemned Holocaust denial and antisemitism, although in his book, White recommended the writings of French Holocaust denier Roger Garaudy.

I finished reading this a couple of days ago, but I need to put some thinking time in before I reviewed it. I can see why people are angry about it. I can see why it has attracted a lot of negative press. But I think you should read it. I really do.

Ben takes us through three broad sections. The first relates the history of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It tells the story of the rise of Israel, and the subsequent displacement of the Palestinian people. It is a powerful story, powerfully told, using quotations from early Israeli leaders and interviews with Palestinians affected.

These quotations, however, include doctored quotations, such as the fake quote that Ben Gurion said “We must expel the Arabs and take their places”, when he actually said ““We do not wish and do not need to expel Arabs and take their places.”

What comes across most clearly is the awareness that the Zionist project would require the eviction of the Palestinian people if it was to succeed – and great lengths were gone to in order to ensure that it did succeed. At the end of the section, I was angry. Very angry.

The second section has to do with the current apparatus of Israeli apartheid.

Here Blanche casually uses the term ‘Israeli apartheid’ as if it were a factual description. Yet the term is historically, morally and intellectually flawed. The South African anti-Zionism movement and its use of the apartheid analogy has itself been critiqued in detail.

Ben talks us through the situation on the ground for Arabs within Israel and those in the OPT, again drawing on a wide range of sources. It is painful reading. When I got to the end of this section, I felt more or less despair. How could anything change such a system?

This ‘wide range of sources’ includes Ilan Pappe, Uri Davis, Charles D Smith, Tom Segev, Tanya Reinhart, Jeff Halper, Hussein and McKay, and Maxime Rodinson. White’s use of sources is successfully critiqued here. One wonders how much attention Blanche has really paid to White’s historiography?

And so the third section, which outlined action that I could take, was great. Ben refuses to allow us to walk away because the situation is too complex, or the solutions too distant. We must do something; I must do something. Ask me in a few months what I’ve done – I know that I am too prone to laziness, and am likely to let this challenge pass me by.

What does White challenge Blanche to do? Boycott Israel, divest from Israeli companies and ‘international companies that are profiting from doing business with apartheid’, campaign for EU and international sanctions against Israel. White’s calls for boycotts have influenced churchmen as high profile as Brian McLaren. For many, such calls appear to be an extension of his Israeli Apartheid Gospel, deeply rooted in what seems to many as racist theology. One wonders whether Blanche subscribes to the same theology, namely that Jews cannot have a state because God doesn’t like them anymore?

After the final section is an excellent FAQ, which helped to answer some questions I had about the topic, and should probably be made available online if at all possible. It would by itself lend a lot of clarity to discussions of the issue.

Ben has been criticised for writing a one-sided story. It does come across as one-sided. But then, it seems pretty clear that the reality of the situation is also one-sided.

So the children of Sderot, for example, have been invented as Zionist propaganda?

The book does acknowledge Palestinian violence, and perhaps is not as clear in denouncing it as some would like. But the picture here is of an occupied people fighting against their occupiers – is that really so clear cut, so obviously morally wrong? I suspect that only those who have never experienced the situation could say so.

Does Blanche differentiate between Palestinian violence which is self-defense, violence which is directed against soldiers, and violence expressed as suicide bombs in Israeli cafes, restaurants and nightclubs? The difference should indeed be clear cut and obvious for all.

Ben has also been criticised for quoting innacurately. I don’t know whether that’s true or not; Ben has defended himself here. But it doesn’t ultimately matter all that much.

Well, isn’t this a revealing paragraph? Blanche claims that it does not matter whether White has been quoting inaccurately in his book. I would suggest that Blanche, who argues that there is a difference between ‘fact’ and ‘value’, reconsider some facts about this book and how it was promoted and launched.

Because the reason people are so angry at this book is because it makes the one critique of Israeli policy that is worth making, and that goes to the heart of the issue. Israel defines itself as a Jewish state. In other words, it defines itself in ethno-religious terms. Only Jews can be Israeli nationals; all Jews are welcome in Israel. Imagine if someone suggested that Britain should define itself in terms of a particular ethnic identity! Oh, wait, that would be the BNP – and we don’t like them, right?

By Blanche’s definition, the 57 states which identify as Islamic along ethno-religious lines would also be racist, BNP-like states. Yet Israel is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, with approximately 1 in 6 citizens being Arabs, and Jewish citizens from all corners of the globe, including Ethiopia, Morocco, India and Iraq. One wonders why the Jewish character of the state of Israel is more offensive to Blanche and White than the Islamic character of the 57 Muslim states?

Ultimately, Ben argues that Israel/Palestine must be a place where Jews and Palestinians are equal under the law, and a state which exists for the good of all its citizens. This is much more radical than the two-state solution, much more difficult to move towards than even that mirage. But anything else enshrines racism as a successful nation building strategy.

The world really doesn’t want to go there.

Any serious attempt at anti-racism in Israel/Palestine has to tackle the expressedly racist and genocidal aims of the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah, drawn from religious jihadist ideas, and deny them a platform. Ben White has, ironically, attempted to downplay the jihadist nature of Hezbollah, and praised Christians who are involved in Islamic ‘resistance’ against Israelis. The ruling party in Gaza, Hamas, incidentally, remains a Nazi organisation.

I would assume that if there were a person preaching a similar worldview against Palestinians as Ben White does against Israelis, Blanche would condemn him forcefully, wouldn’t he?


Filed under apartheid analogy, bigotry

Dr Harry Hagopian recommends Ben White book at Ekklesia

According to his website, Dr Harry Hagopian ‘is a qualified lawyer who holds a Doctorate in Public International Law and an LL.M in Alternative Dispute (Conflict) Resolution. He is also the Middle East Consultant for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in England & Wales, as well as Ecumenical, Legal and Political Consultant to the Armenian Apostolic Church.’

Harry works closely with the Vatican, Lambeth Palace, Majlis El-Hassan and the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies in Jordan, Minority Rights Group International in England, as well as with think tanks, universities and institutes across Europe and North America.’

Dr Hagopian is well-respected and listened to by many influential people. It is therefore disconcerting that Dr Hagopian should choose to write in an article on Israeli-Palestine at Ekklesia in which he cites Ben White’s new book:

The British journalist Ben White writes in his new book Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide, that the problems of occupation and violence are deeply rooted in the essence of Zionism and Israeli policies of colonisation in Palestine.

But why of all books has Hagopian chosen to recommend Ben White’s book to understand ‘the essence of Zionism’?

In order to introduce readers to ‘the essence of Zionism’, one of the sources Ben White draws on and recommends is Holocaust-denier Roger Garaudy.

White’s Israeli Apartheid Guide contains false quotes, poor historiography and what appears to many as an endorsement of racist theology.

White’s sensitivity towards Jews (and in one instance towards Palestinians) has been repeatedly called into question, not least due to his writing: ‘I do not consider myself an anti-Semite, yet I can also understand why some are‘, and his claim that the arrest of antisemites plotting to blow up a synagogue was a ‘threat to our freedoms‘.

In his Ekklesia article, Dr Hagopian invokes the memory of Dr Martin Luther King Jr:

. If Martin Luther King, Jr, were able to stand up and deliver another sermon at the Riverside Drive Church today, he would surely call it Beyond Occupation!

If using the name of Dr Martin Luther King is designed to conjure up images of the civil rights struggle and the need to combat racism, then it is important to remember that Dr King would be equally concerned about anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish racism as he would about anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism.

With this in mind, one wonders why Christians who invoke King’s memory would in the next breath recommend a writer who espouses such appalling untruths about Israel and ascribes the very worst motives to the Jewish desire for a homeland.


Filed under apartheid analogy, bigotry, understanding

Ron Paul fans forum

Adam Holland checks out Ron Paul’s fanbase Liberty Forest: Ron Paul Forums, where many of Ron Paul’s supporters push hatred of Jews in the name of Christianity. Holland also highlights Ron Paul’s son’s neo-Nazi fans.

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