Monday, October 20, 2003

Who I’ve been hearing in person
The Revd Canon Dr Naim Ateek
Sometime canon, St George’s Anglican Cathedral, Jerusalem, and a Palestinian.

Heard him speak for about an hour and a half last night and so from a firsthand source got confirmation of everything I believe about Palestine.

Very good - he seems Christian and preaches nonviolence (so perhaps, gladly, it really isn't Communist 'liberation theology') - but from the passion with which he speaks you can tell underneath he'd love to see Israel (the government, not the people - again, he is a Christian) wiped off the map and I don't blame him.

He and his large extended family were kicked out of their Galilean village in ’48 by the Zionists. 'Ethnic cleansing': the Israelis rolled in one day and told the townspeople they had two hours to get out. Then they separated the people by religion, dumping the Muslims in Jordan and the Christians in Israel around Nazareth.

Most of the many, many Palestinian villages were destroyed. His hometown, Basan, was taken over and repopulated by the Israelis. There is a bank where his boyhood home was. He joked, 'Oh, sure, give me the bank!'

A born Christian, Dr Ateek is Anglican because when the Israelis dumped him and his family in Nazareth, the Anglicans took them in and gave them a place to stay, in a school classroom. I didn't ask him if he was Catholic or Orthodox to begin with. Didn't want to pry.

He made much at the beginning about the historic Eastern churches, all of them, to bring home the point that not all Arabs like him are Muslims, saying that many Americans assume he is a convert from Islam.

He explained dispensationalism (the modern Protestant notion that the Abrahamic covenant is still in force), how it began in the early 1800s so it partly got Zionism started (Jews didn't think of it first) and how it's fuelling the Protestant religious right today. He says it's their real reason for the war in Iraq, because they (mis)interpret the Bible as saying the present-day Jews have a divine right to all the land from the Nile (Egypt) to the Euphrates (Iraq). And Syria is in between so they think they have a divine right to attack Syria next.

And today's version of dispensationalists - again, the Prot religious right - believe that the Jews have to be in Israel to trigger the Second Coming, when 2/3 of them will be killed and the remaining 1/3 will convert.

The Israelis realize this, hold their noses and proceed to milk the Prot right to keep that American money and weaponry coming in as it has for decades.

Yes, this is partly what's behind Mr Bush's handlers' foreign policy - and it is entirely outside of apostolic Christianity, which most Arab Christians belong to and which these heretics don't consider really Christian.

I know dispensationalism is a crock according to historic Christianity but agree that the Jews, as the People of the Book, of the Old Testament, have a special place and they are a mystical presence in history that will continue always and only will be understood by us at the end of time.

The fact that Hitler hated them so much attests to this IMO. He hated the God of revelation, which was why he feared the Old Testament people. Don't blame Christianity! The Nazis wanted to replace Him with revived Germanic pagan religion (the hammer of Thor), nature worship - in short, occultism or New Age!

(Amazing how the country in Europe long the most hospitable to Jews - Yiddish is a dialect of German, which attests to this - suddenly 180'd.)

Dr Ateek also explained how the Israelis have built a literal wall around the Palestinian territory carved out of the West Bank.

In 1947 there were over 1 million Arabs in Palestine. A year later there were only about 100,000.

They didn't mind the Jews living there. It was the Zionists' demand for a 'pure' Jewish state (ironic, ja?) that ruined everything.

55 years on some people are still living in refugee camps. Keys to houses are kept in families and passed down the generations.

The place would have been better off remaining a distant province of a weak Turkish empire. (World War I was evil.)

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