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Parent Article: Tearing Down Walls – Building Bridges: Protesting Apartheid in Israel/Palestine
Hidden with code "Policy Violation"
Boston Sabeel Conference: Hate at the Altar
08 Nov 2007
It’s October, and time for the annual hate fest traveling road show in North America starring Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, founder of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center of Jerusalem with his vitriol about Jews being “Christ killers”. As my buddy Dexter Van Zile of CAMERA points out in this Boston Globe opinion piece, the Rev. Ateek, an Anglican Canon,prattled these vicious lines during the Second Intifada when Palestinian terror groups were engaged in suicide killings of innocent Israeli citizens. So the ‘blame the Jews” game comes to the venerable Old South Church in Boston on October 26th and 27th. The Old South Church is affiliated with mainstream Protestant denomination, the United Church of Christ that has become an acolyte at the hate altar of Sabeel.

Our Jewish and Christian Zionist friends will protest these abysmal proceedings in downtown Boston. Events are being organized by our ACT friends at the David project. Doubtless my friends in the Boston Russian Jewish community and the ‘Goats of Boston’ will be marching. On Friday, protests will occur at 1:30PM EDST in Copley Square in front of the Boston Public Library catty corner to the Old South Church Because observant Jews can’t protest the Sabeel gathering at the Old South Church on Saturday, Christian Zionists under the banner of Christians and Jews United for America (CJUA) will take over at 3;00PM. A letter from 30 Rabbis and 15 Protestant Ministers has been sent to the Pastor of the Old South Church can be found at the David project website. You can see the whole dreadful lineup of hate speakers at the Friends of Sabeel North America website.

You ACT members in the Boston area should get involved. Two years ago, Brigitte Gabriel and I organized a protest led by ACT stalwart, Mike Gale and fellow Christian Zionists from Greely, Colorado out in front of a Presbyterian Church in Denver. They turned out with massed Israeli flags on a Saturday, causing no end of fist waving and scatological caterwauling by the acolytes attending that Sabeel hate fest. You can read about it here.

So read my buddy Dexter Van Zile’s op ed in today’s Boston Globe. Hillel Stavis of the David project who is organizing protests of the Sabeel conference at the Old South Church said to me on a phone call this morning, “I can’t believe they printed it”. Believe it. Now, you ACT members in the immediate Boston area might show solidarity with the David Project and the CUJA protesters in front of Boston’s Public Library tomorrow and Saturday. Rev. Naim Ateek of Sabeeel has no shame. Neither does the pastor at the Old South Church. As the mock photo on this posting says: “Blame the Jews”.

by Dexter Van Zile, The Boston Globe, October 25, 2007

If a church in Boston announced that it was renting space to a self-described peace group whose leader hung nooses from trees in former slave-holding states, the interfaith community would be outraged, the church would be condemned, and the wisdom of its pastor and governing council would be called into question, with good reason.

Any organization led by someone who would display an image with such a bloody and violent history would immediately be repudiated by people of good will. Virtually everyone knows that a noose hanging from a tree is a prelude to a lynching. Its display is a vile act intended to intimidate African-Americans and other minorities into submission. It is a vestige of the Old South that has been discarded by all but the irredeemably racist.

Sadly, Old South Church in downtown Boston is playing host to just such a group this weekend - with one slight difference. Instead of displaying a noose during a time of racial tension, the leader of the group in question - the Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, founder of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center - invoked the anti-Semitic trope of Jews as Christ-killers during the second intifada, when Palestinian suicide bombers were murdering citizens of Israel.

The portrayal of Jews as Christ-killers has contributed to untold violence and hostility toward the Jewish people, but for some reason, Old South Church is allowing Sabeel and Ateek, an Anglican priest from Jerusalem, the use of its worship space.

For the past three decades, Sabeel has billed itself as the voice of the beleaguered community of Palestinian Christians in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Israel. Over the years, Sabeel has been successful in convincing well-meaning, but largely ignorant Christians in the United States and Europe that the Palestinian people are innocent sufferers and the Israeli government their brutal oppressors.

The centerpiece of this effort can be seen in the hostile rhetoric of Ateek. For example, his 2000 Christmas message portrayed Israeli officials as Herod, who, according to the Christian gospel, murdered all the infants of Bethlehem in an attempt to kill the infant Jesus. In his 2001 Easter message, Ateek wrote, “The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily” and that “Palestine has become the place of the skull.” And in February 2001, Ateek compared the Israeli occupation to the stone blocking Christ’s tomb.

With these three images, Ateek has figuratively blamed Israel for the attempted murder of the infant Jesus, the crucifixion of Jesus the prophet, and for blocking the resurrection of Christ the Savior.

In the context of Christian-Jewish relations, language like this - which has preceded and justified the killing of Jews for nearly two millennia - is the equivalent of a noose hanging from a tree in the Old South. Its use during a time of violence can only serve to justify continued violence against Israeli civilians. Sadly, Ateek’s defenders have said that he is merely using the “language of the cross” to describe Palestinian suffering, but in fact, he is describing Israeli behavior.

Taken to its logical end, language like this suggests that the only solution to Palestinian suffering is Israel’s elimination, which Sabeel called for in a 2004 document that stated the organization’s “vision for the future” is “one-state for two nations and three religions.”

To make matters worse, Ateek has invoked the notion of the wandering, defenseless Jew as a good thing by writing that Jewish statehood contradicts the Jewish call to suffer. This type of language has been regarded as taboo by responsible Christians since the Holocaust, and its reemergence in Ateek’s writing is as ominous as a noose hanging from a tree.

This is not peacemaking; it is demonization. Such language might have been tolerable in the Old South, but not today.

Not in Boston’s Old South.
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