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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem

CHAPTER FOURTEEN Part 3 of 3

congregations in Israel, including one in Ashkelon, which southern Baptist representatives James and Elizabeth Smith work.

The Smiths reported they were accused of "poisoning" innocent young people with our religious beliefs and baptizing them into "Gentile" Christianity.

A congregation in Tiberias was evicted from the building in which they had been meeting.(51)

The January 25, 1985 issue of The Jerusalem Post gave a lengthy account of the demonstration against the beleaguared Baptist church.

Fifty people took part in a demonstration opposite the Baptist Church in Narkis Street, Rehavia, on Wednesday afternoon, protesting against plans to rebuild the burnt-out church building.

Most of the protesters were ultra-Orthodox residents from other neighborhoods. A few live on Narkis Street.

The protesters said the church held "missionary activities" and that it disrupted the peace on Shabbat. They held signs saying "We don't want a missionary center here," and "Get out, Get out."

Alona Lunzer, one of the local residents who organized the demonstration, said: 'They are planning to build acampus here. Some 200 people come here on Shabbat, and none are from the neighborhood. I myself am not religious, but a lot of the residents are.

"Most of the neighbors agree with us, she said.

One of the neighbors, watching from adistance, disagreed. "Look at them - there are only a handful of Narkis Street residents among the demonstrators," he said. The man refused to be identified, saying "You think I want my car blown up?"

Opposition to the church was stepped up as the building plans reached the final stage.

The plans call for a three-storey building on the church's Narkis Street site, where the original 1929 building was destroyed by arson two years ago. No one was ever charged for the offense.

Local ultra-Orthodox politicians have opposed the church since plans for its restoration were first drawn up two years ago. The plans are due to be discussed soon in the regional planning committee, which may give the final approval.

Demonstrator Gershon Holzer, who lives on the neighbouring Hagidem Street, said many local residents are opposed to the rebuilding of the church. "The Church disrupts the Shabbat peace and lowers the quality of life in our quiet residential area," he said.

Rev. Bob Lindsay, minister of the church, denied that his congregation disrupted the peace. "We have heardcomplaints from only three people" he said.

He charged that the billboard posters and leaflets distributed in neighbourhood mailboxes, calling residents to the demonstrations, were full of misrepresentations.

"They quote me in interviews saying things I don't even remember saying - that I convince Jews to convert," said Lindsay. "The leaflets say all attempts to discuss the matter with the Rev. Lindsay were fruitless. That is an absolute lie -they have never come to me," he added.

Although local residents insisted that they had organized Wednesday's demonstration, the billboard posters were signed by Yad La'ahirn, an anti-missionary organization.

Agudat Yisrael city councillor Meir Porush told In Jerusalem that they wanted the church moved out of the neighborhood.(52)

Naive Christians believe that the Israeli authorities have no responsibility for the acts of Zionist extremists, exactly as their counterparts of the 1930's believed that Hitler and the top Nazi leadership had no responsibility for the street brawls of Nazi goons who broke the heads of German Christian and

Social Democrats as well as Jews on the streets. After all, they say, "Israel is a democracy with laws, and courts." Zionism is no more capable of producing laws seeking justice than Nazism was capable of producing laws seeking justice. Zionist courts are no more capable of giving objective verdicts than Nazi courts were capable of giving objective verdicts. As ideological diseases, Zionism and Nazism have no room for justice or objectivity. They can only produce a parody of law and a travesty of justice.

According to Arthur Max, correspondent of the Associated Press in Jerusalem:

Under pressure from religious political parties, Israel in 1978 made it a criminal offense to offer inducements to anyone for changing his religion with a maximum five-year prison sentence. After 20 Christian denominations united in protest following a spate of vandalism in 1979, Begin said the government "will do its utmost to prevent arecurrence of such intolerable acts of vandalism."

But Begin, as a master terrorist himself, could not help knowing that the 1978 laws were an inducement and incitement to violence and vandalism. So much for Zionist laws.

Zionist courts are no better. In civilised societies, the courts are expected to provide redress for the victims of crime. But there is no redress for the victims of Zionist war crimes in Zionist courts. Zionist courts merely add to the burdens of the victims of Zionist terror.

The Baptist Church News of June 13, 1985, reports:

The highest court in Israel has asked a Baptist congregation to leave a Jewish area of Jerusalem before it builds a new sanctuary. Israel's High Court made therequest while reviewing a suit filed by the Narkis Street Baptist Church against a district planning commission, which last year refused to issue the church a building permit.

The Narkis Street church has been meeting in a tentlike structure since 1982 when its building was destroyed by arson. The congregation wants to replace its burned-out chapel with a $1 million facility, including a 400-seat auditorium, several classrooms, and office space.

The rebuilding plan was approved by Mayor Teddy Kollek, various municipal agencies, and the Jerusalem city council. But last fall, a district planning commission decided to allow only the building of a structure similar to the congregation's original 60-seat chapel. The church then filed suit in Israel's High Court.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups have demonstrated against the church's plan to rebuild. Among other objections, they say the Baptists' singing disrupts the Narkis Street neighborhood and that their parked cars clog the streets. Pat Hoaldridge, acting chairman of Southern Baptist representatives in Israel, says the High Court's request for the church to move indicates the judges did not want to risk raising religious tensions further.

"You have to understand the climate in the country at this time," Hoaldridge says. "The rise of religious feelings regarding what the people would call missionary activity ... is playing a part in this case."

The High Court said it would not rule on the church's suit against the district planning commission for two months. The delay is designed to give the Narkis Street congregation and the Baptist Convention of Israel time to consider trading the church property for another site in Jerusalem.

Lawyers for the church have recommended that the Baptists move on the condition the church's building will be approved as submitted. At press time, the congregation had not made a decision.(53)

The decision of the Zionist High Court is unmistakable in its meaning. The perpetrators of violence against the Baptist Church of Jerusalem were right in intent in the eyes of the court. The victims were wrong in the eyes of the court. The Zionist arsonists wanted the Baptist Church removed by violence; the Zionist court wanted the Baptist Church removed by decree.

It is this form of persecution of Christianity that the Rev. Jerry Falwell and his cohorts support.

When the scandal of this so-called Christian support of the crimes committed by the Zionists against Christianity becomes known to those who have been duped, the Zionist collaborators will have to run for cover from the justified wrath of their irate former followers. The followers of Rev. Jerry Falwell and his fellow televangelists aiding and abetting the persecution of Christianity by the Zionists would certainly be horrified if they knew of the long record of Zionist barbaric acts against the Christian faith. If the official burning of the Gospels by the Israeli Army is the ultimate sacrilege against the Christian faith, the crucifixion of Christians would be the ultimate barbarism inflicted on Christians themselves.

In 1988, in Gaza, an 18-year old, Khader Tarazi, went out to buy groceries and got caught up in a crowd fleeing Israeli soldiers. He ducked into the house of a friend, but soldiers rushed in and dragged him out. While beating him mercilessly with clubs, they asked him his religion.

When he replied "Christian," they answered that they would show him the treatment Christians got. The Zionist soldiers spread the young Palestinian Christian, cruciform, on the hood of a jeep and beat him on the head. They drove him through the streets of Gaza for hours as an example of the fate in store for Christians. He died from the beatings.(54)

After the outbreak of the Intifada in December, 1987, the Israeli authorities intensified their oppression against Christian institutions in the West Bank and Gaza. On April 27, 1989, nine Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant prelates signed a "Statement of the Heads of the Christian Communities in Jerusalem," in which they appealed for help against Israeli oppression:

STATEMENT OF THE HEADS OF THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES IN JERUSALEM

We, the heads of the Christian communities in the Holy City, have met together in view of the grave situation prevailing in Jerusalem and the whole of our country.

It is our Christian conviction that as spiritual leaders we have an urgent duty to follow up the developments in this situation and to make known to the world the conditions of life of our people here in the Holy Land.

In Jerusalem, on the West Bank and in Gaza, our people experience in their daily lives constant deprivation of their fundamental rights because of arbitrary actions deliberately taken by the authorities. Our people are often subjected to unprovoked harassment and hardship.

We are particularly concerned by the tragic and unnecessary loss of Palestinian lives, especially among minors. Unarmed and innocent people are being killed by the unwarranted use of firearms and hundreds are wounded by the excessive use of force.

We protest against the frequent shooting incidents in the vicinity of Holy Places.

We also condemn the practice of mass administrative arrests and of continuing detention of adults and minors without trial.

We further condemn the use of all forms of collective punishment, including the demolition of homes and and depriving whole communities of basic services such as water and electricity.

We appeal to the world community to support our demand for the re-opening of schools and universities, closed for the past sixteen months, so that thousands of our children can enjoy again their basic right to education.

We demand that the authorities respect the rights of believers to enjoy free access to all places of worship on the Holy Days of all religions.

We affirm our human solidarity and sympathy with all who are suffering and oppressed; we pray for the return of peace based on justice to Jerusalem and the Holy Land; and we request the international community and United Nations Organization to give urgent attention to the plight of the Palestinian people and to work for a speedy and just resolution of the Palestinian problem.

Signed April 27, 1989 by: H. B. Diodoros (Greek Orthodox Patriarch); H. B. Michel Sabbah (Latin Patriarch); Bishop Samir Kafity (Episcopal Church); Archbishop Lutfi Laharn (Greek Catholic Patriarchate); H. B. Yeghishe Derderian (Armenian Orthodox Patriarch); Bishop Naim Nassar (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan); H. B. Basilios (Coptic Orthodox Patriarch); Archbishop Dionysios Behnam Jijjawi (Syrian Orthodox Patriarchal Vicar); Most Rev. Father Cechitelli (O.F.M.) (Cusios of the Holy Land).55


RESPONSE OF WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES, GENEVA

May 9, 1989

To the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem Dear Friends in Christ,

The World Council of Churches has received your Jerusalem statement of April 27, 1989, and circulated it through the Ecumenical Press Service (May 1st issue, 89.05.26).

Offering our prayers and support, we admire your courage to witness to the peace of Jesus Christ against all oppression.

The Intifada is a people's response to an unlawful occupation. The withdrawal of the occupiers and the opening of negotiations for a solution which would give satisfaction to both Israel and to the Palestinian nation will bring about a new era of reconciliation in the whole region.

In His service, we remain united in the bonds of God's love.

Sincerely yours,

Emilio Castro General Secretary World Council of Churches, Geneva56

NOTES TO CHAPTER FOURTEEN

1. Yehoshafat Harkabi, Israel's Fateful Decisions (London: I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., 1988), pp. 161 -162.

2. Hassan Haddad and Donald Wagner, eds., All in the Name of the Bible (Brattleboro, Vermont: Amana Books, 1986), pp. 107-109.

3. Ibid., p. 100.

4. Debate in the House of Lords, June 21, 1922.

5. Statement of the Committee of the Christian Union in Palestine, March 3, 1948, addressed to all world religious and political bodies.

6. Statement by the Committee of the Christian Union in Palestine, May 31, 1948.

7. Letter by Msgr. Thomas MacMahon, Secretary of the Catholic Near East Association, to the Secretary General of the United Nations, August 20, 1948.

8. Report of Msgr. Vergani, General Vicar for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem for Galilee, to the Latin Patriarch, Jerusalem.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Report by Father Pascal St. Jean, Superior of Our Lady of France Hostel, to the Latin Patriarchate, Jerusalem.

12. Report of Father A. Rezk of the Greek Catholic Church, Jaffa.

13. Report of the Christian Union in Palestine.

14. Letter of Msgr. Hakim of the Greek Catholic Diocese of Acre.

15. The New York Times, July 12, 1961.

16. Statement by Nancy Nolan of Grosse Isle, Michigan.

17. Letter of Rev. James L. Kelso published in Christianity Today, July 27, 1967.

18. Statement by Mrs. Sigrid W. Proft of Switzerland.

19. Interview of Amos Kenan in Haolem Hazeh.

20. Badi-ot Khadeshot, December 21, 1952.

21. Ha'aretz, July 20, 1954.

22. National Jewish Post and Opinion, New York, February 8, 1963.

23. Proche-Orient Chretien, January-March 1954.

24. Hatsofe, December 2, 1953.

25. Ha'aretz, March 14, 1954.

26. Jewish Daily Forward.

27. Hatsofe, April 10, 1961.

28. Jewish Newsletter, December 2, 1957, published by William Zukerman.

29. Ibid., December 15, 1958.

30. Ibid., July 28, 1958.

31. Catholic magazine Ave Maria, October 8, 1960.

32. Statement by Israel Shahak, Chairman of the Israel Human Rights League.

33. Maclean's, January 20, 1985.

34. Memorandum of the Christian Pilgrimage Commission in the Holy Land, March 13, 1984.

35. Al AlFajr, Jerusalem, April 30-May 6, 1982.

36. Ibid., May 21 -27, 1982.

37. Al Fajr, December 23, 1982.

38. Ibid., May 22, 1983.

39. Ibid., June 17, 1983.

40. Ibid., November 24, 1983.

41. The Jerusalem Post, December 27,1983.

42. Al Fajr, January 8, 1984.

43. Ibid., January 16, 1984.

44. Ibid., April 14, 1985.

45. Ibid., April 15, 1987.

46. Ibid., October 8, 1982.

47. Foreign Mission News, Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, October 8, 1982.

48. The Washington Post, October 9, 1982.

49. The Jerusalem Post.

50. Christianity Today, March 13, 1985, p. 42.

51. Foreign Mission News, Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, January 29, 1985.

52. The Jerusalem Post, January 25, 1985.

53. The Baptist Church News, June 13,1985.

54. John Kifner, "Medical Workers say Four Palestinians Died After Beatings by Israeli Army," The New York Times, February 14, 1988.

55. Israel & Palestine Political Report, Paris, France, No. 150, May 1989, p. 16.

56. Ibid.

 



Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem
By Issa Nakhleh

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