As reported earlier, Boston to Host Sabeel’s Israel Hatefest on Oct. 26/7,
the North American Friends of Sabeel (and haters of Jews) is convening in Boston at the end of the month. Who is Hosting this esteemed gathering of villians, liars and scoundrals, why the United Church of Christ, publisher of anti-Israel Slanders, home of the Anti-Israel advocate and Barak Obama mentor the Right Reverend Wright (Jr).
The Pastor of this particular UCC Congregation the Reverend Nancy Taylor is pleased to welcome this esteemed group of Jew haters. Especially Bishop Desmond Tutu saying that her church “will not close its door to this holy and courageous man” who “has earned the right to express his views on this most painfully contested part of the world.” I wonder how he earned it—was it when he said that the biblical temple in Jerusalem was run on an apartheid system, or maybe it was when he said that the Jews think that they own God. It could have been his great speeches of conciliation like when he said that some people think that he is an anti-Semite…tough!
Maybe is none of the Above and Reverend Taylor just likes the fact that Sabeel has a habit of calling Jews “Christ Killers” Is it that Reverend Taylor doesn’t know who is coming to her church–or just doesn’t care (based on the UCC’s track record I vote for the latter). Either way this article from CAMERA is a good compliment to the NGO article posted earlier. The NGO article focused on the organizations involved in the conference, this piece focuses on the individuals.
|Boston’s Old South Church Welcomes Sabeel|
On Oct. 26-27, Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center will hold a conference at Old South Church, the flagship church of the United Church of Christ (UCC) in Boston. Old South’s decision to allow its worship space to be used by Sabeel is only the latest instance in which a prominent UCC institution has helped legitimize an anti-Zionist organization that traffics in anti-Judaic themes. Despite complaints from mainstream Jewish groups in the United States about Sabeel’s hostile rhetoric and agenda, the United Church of Christ continues to portray the organization as an ecumenical “partner” for peace in the Middle East. To distract the general public and her congregants from serious and legtimate concerns about Sabeel’s rhetoric and agenda, Rev. Nancy Taylor, pastor at Old South Church, has emphasized the participation of Archbishop Desmond Tutu as the event’s keynote speaker, stating in a Sept. 9, 2007 sermon, that her church “will not close its door to this holy and courageous man” who “has earned the right to express his views on this most painfully contested part of the world.”
Rev. Taylor stated that Jewish leaders are unhappy about the upcoming event because
Jewish concerns about Sabeel go much deeper than its efforts to smear Israel with the apartheid charge or its involvement in the campaign to convince protestant churches in the U.S. to target Israel for divestment (not “selective divestment” as Rev. Taylor asserts.)
These things are troubling to be sure, but the concerns are much deeper than what Rev. Taylor states. Ultimately, the concern is about Sabeel’s tendency to use Christian theology and scripture to demonize Israel and deny the Jewish people the right to self-determination in a sovereign state.
What Rev. Taylor did not convey in her sermon is that Sabeel leaders, activists, and supporters do not merely “criticize” Israel, but describe Israel in Christ-killing terms. They portray Judaism and Zionism in contemptuous light, and mischaracterize Jewish history in a manner that serves to undermine Israel’s legitimacy. In short, Sabeel has proven particularly adept at portraying Israel, and its supporters, many of whom are Jewish, as worthy of contempt.
And while Rev. Taylor emphasized the involvement of Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the upcoming event, she did not communicate to her congregation the concerns raised about Sabeel’s leader, Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek. In addition to using deicide imagery in reference to Israel, Rev. Dr. Ateek has portrayed modern Judaism as a tribal religion indifferent to the suffering of non-Jews, suggested that instead of pursuing the creation of a Jewish State in the Middle East, Zionist leaders in the 1800s should have chosen to remain in Europe as it became more democratic. Moreover, Rev. Dr. Ateek has portrayed Zionism – the Jewish search for self-determination and safety in the Middle East – as undermining the Jewish calling to suffer.
Just as Rev. Dr. Ateek’s rhetoric and refusal to accept Jewish sovereignty disqualifies him and the group he leads as a peacemaking organization, Old South’s willingness to allow its building to be used by Sabeel disqualifies the church as a legitimate partner in interfaith dialogue. Sabeel’s hostile, anti-Jewish rhetoric cannot be ignored or papered over by invoking the involvement of Archbishop Desmond Tutu in the upcoming conference.
Sabeel’s Influence Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center was founded sometime in the late 1980s or early 1990s (accounts differ on the exact date) by Anglican Priest Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, author of Justice and Only Justice: A Palestinian Theology of Liberation (Orbis, 1989). The group and its sister organization in North America – Friends of Sabeel, North America (FOSNA) – organizes national and regional conferences in both the United States and Canada where speakers portray Israel as an apartheid state and excuse Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians. The organization, which also hosts international conferences in Jerusalem, has been at the forefront of the campaign in mainline Protestant churches in the U.S. to target Israel for divestment and to pass anti-Israel resolutions at church-wide assemblies. Sabeel’s narrative about the Arab-Israeli conflict can be distilled to one sentence issued in a 2005 letter signed by the Rev. Canon Dr. Richard K. Toll, chair of FOSNA, who wrote: “End the occupation and the violence will end.” This narrative has been proven false by history. There was ongoing Arab violence against Israel before the 1967 when the Israel took possession of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip – in a defensive war against adversaries intent on destroying it. And the violence against Israel increased after Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, Sabeel has exhibited a resilient capacity to influence the “prophetic witness” of mainline churches about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Under the influence of Sabeel and other activists, the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s General Assembly voted to initiate a campaign of “phased, selective divestment” from companies that did business with Israel in 2004. This resolution, which made no mention of incitement on Palestinian television, or growing anti-Semitism in the Middle East, stated that the occupation had proven to be at the root of violence against innocents on both sides of the conflict. (This resolution, which singled Israel out as a target for divestment was overturned by the PC(USA)’s General Assembly 2006, but it is still a possibility that the denomination’s Mission Responsibility Through Investments (MRTI) committee will divest from Israel using pre-existing criteria for its investments.) Sabeel activists were present at the 2005 church-wide assemblies of the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ that passed resolutions asking Israel to take down the security barrier without asking the Palestinians to stop the terror attacks that prompted its construction. Sabeel activist Jonathan Kuttab also played a prominent role in the passage of a divestment resolution at the UCC’s 2005 General Synod. Sabeel has also been active in the Episcopal Church, which has engaged in an ongoing campaign to portray Israel as exclusively responsible for the Arab-Israeli conflict and to downplay Palestinian and Arab responsibility for violence Israelis. The organization receives substantial financial and institutional support from the Episcopal Church. Sabeel’s Agenda Aside from the dishonest and false “end-the-occupation-and-the-violence-will-end” narrative offered by Sabeel, the most salient characteristics of the group’s message are its tendency to traffic in anti-Jewish rhetoric, its efforts to undermine the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty, its support for a one-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and a willingness to excuse or portray Palestinian violence targeted at civilians as part of a liberationist movement, when the people responsible for this violence proclaim their desire to destroy Israel. The group has also proven adept at enlisting the aid of Israel’s Jewish critics – who have very little credibility in Israeli society – to buttress its narrative about the Arab-Israeli conflict to American audiences that know little about Israeli politics. Opposition to Jewish Sovereignty One troubling theme in Rev. Dr. Ateek’s writing is that by pursuing sovereignty in modern Israel, Jews have abandoned the principles of Judaism. This theme is evident in Justice and Only Justice, a book based on his 1982 doctoral dissertation for which he received a doctor of ministry from the San Francisco Theological Seminary – Toward a Strategy for the Episcopal Church in Israel with Special Focus on the Political Situation: Analysis and Prospect. (On page 188 of this dissertation Rev. Dr. Ateek writes that Jews living in Israel should “stop and consider the deeper and higher demands of their religion” but offers no such suggestion that adherents of the Muslim faith in the Middle East should do the same thing.) On page 101 of Justice and Only Justice, Rev. Dr. Ateek writes:
Rev. Dr. Ateek then invokes a 1967 assertion by Chief Rabbi Nissim, head of Israel’s Sephardic Jews that Israel should not return the territories taken in the recent war as a “clear indication of how far the Jewish religions has been influenced by the Zionist ideal and the nationalistic tradition.” Ateek continues:
In his effort to portray Zionism, and its allegedly negative influence on Judaism, as a primary cause for the continued existence of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Rev. Dr. Ateek uses Rabbi Nissim as a symbol for all Israelis and for official Israeli policy. He also distorts history. It was not Rabbi Nissim who made a land-for-peace deal impossible in 1967. Instead it was the Arab leaders who issued the “Three Nos of Khartoum” stating there would be no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no peace with Israel after the Six Day War. If Rev. Dr. Ateek had acknowledged this history, it would have undercut his suggestion that the continued existence of the war is rooted in how Israelis understand and practice Judaism, which he offers on page 102 of Justice and Only Justice:
The Jewish people, like any other sovereign nation, must struggle with the demands of security and concern for human and civil rights. On this score, Israel’s record is not perfect, but it compares favorably to other states in the world, particularly its adversaries in the Middle East where one-party dictatorships are the norm, the oppression of religious and ethnic minorities official policy and the imprisonment of dissidents a regular occurrence. The presence of numerous Jewish human rights groups in Israel, many of whom work with Rev. Dr. Ateek (despite his anti-Jewish rhetoric) demonstrate that many Israelis continue to pay close attention to and struggle with the “higher tenets and demands of the Jewish religion.” Apparently, this is not enough for Rev. Dr. Ateek who seems to think that the higher tenets and demands of Judaism require Jews to suffer whatever mistreatment the world hands them.
This passage is emblematic of Rev. Dr. Ateek’s moral inversion. Israel took up arms in response to repeated attacks against it by its neighbors, not out of any desire to become “oppressors and war makers.” Israel was attacked by five Arab armies during the 1948 War. During the run up to the 1967 War Arab leaders made it perfectly clear that they were intent on destroying Israel. Rev. Dr. Ateek’s statement that “The Jews [….] have relegated themselves to the roles of oppressors and war makers” as a result of their efforts to defend themselves against repeated efforts to destroy their state is ultimately an attempt to subject the Jewish people to a racist stereotype. One can only wonder how Orbis Press could publish such a racist and defamatory statement.
Just as troubling is Rev. Dr. Ateek’s insistence that Jewish sovereignty contradicts the vocation of the Jewish people to suffer. It is one thing for Jews to embrace the notion that they have a vocation to suffer, but it is another thing altogether for Rev. Dr. Ateek, a Christian and a proponent of Palestinian nationalism to invoke this belief in an obvious attempt to undermine the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East. In addition to portraying Zionism as contradicting the calling of the Jewish people to suffer, Rev. Dr. Ateek portrays the move for a Jewish State as a miscalculated and erroneous response to Jewish powerlessness in 19th century Europe. In a sermon titled “The Zionist Ideology of Domination Versus the Reign of God: The Ultimate Triumph of Justice and Love,” which he gave at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in February 2001 he wrote: I believe that the background to the Zionist movement was good, but it got corrupted and I hope it will be redeemed. I can appreciate the noble reasons for the rise of Zionism among European Jewry. Theodor Herzl (1860-1904), the founder of Zionism and his friends must have deeply felt the plight of their Jewish brethren. Anti-semitism was a menace. One can only admire Herzl’s perception of the problems and determination to do something about it rather than sit back and complain. The Jewish religious leaders had passively accepted their people’s predicament, but the secular Zionists were not going to be apathetic to the agony and misery of their brethren. The assessment of the Zionist leaders regarding the suffering of their people in 19th century Europe was correct. Anti-semitism was rife and many Jews were suffering as a result of causeless hatred and prejudice. The Zionists intention to help was noble. The questions they raised were right, how can they help their fellow brothers and sisters who were being oppressed due to the fact that they were ethnically and religiously different from the majority of the population around them? Tragically, it was difficult for the Zionists to anticipate the evolution and development of democracy in Europe. Democracy was the right answer to the problem, a true democracy with equality for all. They did not anticipate the day when Europe would have democratic systems of government that attract many people to its shores as we see happening today. The Zionists could not foresee this. They decided to opt out of Europe. (Emphasis added.) By chiding the Jewish religious leaders who “had passively accepted their people’s predicament,” Rev. Dr. Ateek contradicts his previously stated belief that the Jewish people have a call to suffer. But even more amazingly, Rev. Dr. Ateek asserts that if only Jewish leaders had anticipated the democratization of Europe, they would not have needed to pursue the creation of a state of their own. (Apparently, the Holocaust – which killed two-thirds of Europe’s Jews – would have proven to be only a bump in the road toward the process of democratization.) The obvious intent of such rhetoric is to portray Zionism as a movement as an overreaction, a miscalculation to a bad stretch of European history and not a legitimate response to 2000 years of persecution.
The intent to delegitimize Zionism is even more obvious in an article by Michael Prior, C.M. published in the Winter 2003 issue of Cornerstone. Prior describes “Political Zionism” as “a movement thoroughly at home in the racist, colonial spirit of nineteenth-century Europe – to establish a state for Jews (Judenstaat) in a land already inhabited.” In this article, Prior complains about the 750,000 Palestinians expelled during the 1948 War, but makes no mention whatsoever of the 800,000 to 1 million Jews thrust out of Muslim countries in the Middle East in the aftermath of Israel’s creation. In Prior’s analysis, Jewish nationalism is racist, but the explusion of Jews in the name of Arab nationalism is unremarkable. Such is the stuff of Sabeel’s “peacemaking” agenda.
Deicide Imagery One of the most troubling aspects about Sabeel’s message is Rev. Dr. Ateek’s use of the story of Christ’s trial and crucifixion as a template for the Arab-Israeli conflict. With this rhetoric, Rev. Dr. Ateek dishonestly portrays Palestinians as innocent sufferers and Israel as a Christ-killing nation. For example, in his 2000 Christmas Message, Ateek wrote describes how Herod the king attempted to destroy the infant Jesus.
By comparing Israeli officials to Herod the king who ordered the murder of infants in Bethlehem, Rev. Dr. Ateek is clearly trying to portray Israeli leaders as indiscriminate killers intent on murdering innocent Palestinian children. To be sure, Israeli soldiers have killed civilians, but it does not target them. In fact, it tries to avoid killing innocent civilians while its adversaries target and attack civilians while hiding behind civilians – guaranteeing civilian casualties. Rev. Dr. Ateek, does not acknowledge this, but instead offers a dishonest description of Palestinian violence against Israelis during the Second Intifada, which was marked by the murder of numerous Israeli civilians. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 43 Israelis were killed by terror attacks during 2000, 263 Israelis were wounded, and there were four suicide attacks at this time. A few of the attacks include:
Palestinian gunmen targeted Israeli children for murder during the beginning of the Second Intifada, which Rev. Dr. Ateek downplays with phrases like “three months of protest” and “stones of protest.” Rev. Dr. Ateek’s defamation of Israel with the use of Christian scriptures continued in February 2001 when Ateek likened the Israeli occupation to the boulder sealing Christ’s tomb in a sermon at Notre Dame Chapel in Jerusalem. Israel has placed a large boulder, a big stone that has metaphorically shut off the Palestinians in a tomb. It is similar to the stone placed on the entrance of Jesus’ tomb, which mark the evangelist describes as being “very large”. This boulder has shut in the Palestinians within and built structures of domination over them to keep them in. We have a name for this boulder. It is the OCCUPATION. Unless this boulder of OCCUPATION is removed, there will be no justice and no freedom. In this passage, Rev. Dr. Ateek is figuratively blaming Israel for blocking Christ’s resurrection in an obvious attempt to suggest that Christ was oppressed by the Jews who insist on repeating this crime against the Palestinians. This motif was made explicit in Rev. Dr. Ateek’s 2001 Easter Message which included the following passage:
In these paragraphs, Rev. Dr. Ateek is clearly portraying the modern state of Israel in the same frame as the Jewish and Roman leaders responsible for the death of Jesus Christ, holding the Israelis figuratively responsible for his trial and crucifixion. This motif of Jewish guilt for Christ’s death becomes more explicit in the next paragraph where Ateek portrays the Palestinians as Christ-like innocent sufferers (with no mention of Palestinian violence) and the Israeli government as engaged in an act of crucifixion (not self-defense).
Language like this is not the stuff of peacemaking, but demonization that fits the working definition of anti-Semitism issued by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) in 2004 which mentions the use of “symbols and images associated with classic anti-Semitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.” Rev. Dr. Ateek has done this repeatedly.
Rev. Canon Dr. Richard Toll, FOSNA’s chair (and one of Rev. Dr. Ateek’s primary handlers at Sabeel events in the U.S.) implicitly acknowledged that Rev. Dr. Ateek’s rhetoric is unacceptable in an interview with The Columbus Dispatch on June 9, 2006. The Dispatch reported that “Toll said Ateek has toned down his rhetoric since his crucifixion statement.” Rev. Ateek would not find it necessary to “tone down” this rhetoric unless it was harmful.
Rev. Dr. Bruce Chilton, Bernard author of Rabbi Jesus and Rabbi Paul, called on Rev. Dr. Ateek to repent for his use of deicide imagery in June 2006. Anti-Semitic language is sinful. If Canon Ateek wishes to put his past rhetoric behind him, I welcome that, but he should repent of what he has done and express an intention to change. By the same token, if he wishes to acknowledge today that his previous suggestion of dismantling the State of Israel was destructive, the way of repentance is open to him. It appears however, that neither Rev. Dr. Ateek or the group he founded has any intention of following Rev. Dr. Chilton’s advice. In the Spring 2007 issue of Cornerstone, Sabeel activist Jonathan Kuttab wrotes the following after a dishonest comparison between Christ’s innocent suffering and the plight of the Palestinians:
Rev. Dr. Ateek’s use of deicide imagery is not merely a dishonest attempt to make a false analogy between Christ’s innocent suffering and the inevitable consequences of Palestinian terrorism tragically rebounding on Palestinian civilians; it is an attempt to portray Israel as a baby-killing and Christ-killing nation blocking the political salvation of the Middle East. The use of such language to emphasize notions of Jewish savagery – not Palestinians suffering – performs the same purposes of intimidation served by the recent display of nooses in Louisiana, which the UCC leaders have condemned.
Rabbi Yehiel Poupko, Judaic scholar at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, described the fears elicited by Rev. Dr. Ateek’s use of crucifixion imagery at a conference about Christian Zionism at North Park University in April 2005. (The event was organized by Don Wagner, a scheduled speaker at the upcoming Sabeel conference who, in his book Dying in the Land of Promise) compares the “one-hundred year process of Zionist occupation in Palestine” to a “killer-vine” destroying a rose bush in his back yard.) Again, such is the stuff of Sabeel’s “peacemaking” agenda.
Rabbi Poupko said the following:
Sadly, the leaders of the United Church of Christ, of which Old South Church is a part, have not condemned Rev. Naim Ateek’s use of deicide imagery, but have instead engaged in a campaign of obfuscation over its use, meaning and consequence. No less than three UCC leaders from the denomination’s headquarters in Cleveland have defended Rev. Ateek’s use of this imagery in reference to Israel.
In July 2005 Peter Makari, executive director for the Middle East for both the UCC and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), told the Jewish Advocate in Boston that he’s “sure it’s not referring to deicide. Naim is a theologian, so it’s natural that he’d draw on biblical texts, and he’s speaking from a context of occupation. Here we’re not in a situation where we always understand the reality in which Palestinians are living.”
Makari invokes Rev. Dr. Ateek’s calling as a theologian to protect him from criticism over his use of imagery with a long history of provoking violence against Jews while ignoring that any trained theologian should know full well the fear this imagery would generate in the Jewish community.
Rev. John Thomas, president and general minister of the UCC engages in the same type of obfuscation in a report he filed from the Middle East in December 2005.
What Rev. Thomas ignores, however, is that in the context of the Middle East the use of this imagery does not necessarily call forth a “form of non-violent resistance.” Rev. Dr. Ateek’s use of deicide imagery affirms the widely-held Muslim belief that the Christian story of Christ’s betrayal by Judas and Caiaphas’s decision to hand him over to the Roman authorities for death reveals the true nature of the Jewish people. A 2002 report published by MEMRI about Palestinian educational materials reported that textbooks in schools under control of the PA include do not give a “comprehensive account of Jesus’ life” but instead “focus on parts that relate to the friction between Christians and Jews. For example, the role of Judas in the Romans’ capture of Jesus is emphasized.”
The report continues:
This is not a new phenomenon. For example, in his book, Semites and Anti-Semites, Bernard Lewis quotes Kamil al-Shinnawi who wrote the following in an Egyptian newspaper in 1963:
Lewis also quotes a commentary about an impending visit to Jordan by Pope Paul IV broadcast on from Radio Amman Jan. 4, 1964:
More recently, in 2004, some commentators in the Middle East offered praise for the Passion of Christ, a Mel Gibson film condemned for emphasizing Jewish guilt for Christ’s murder. For example, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute, Adel Hamood, a writer in the Egyptian government daily Al-Ahram described the film as “a courageous challenge to the political, financial, and media power of the Jews, who have been successful in exonerating themselves of all the crimes that they committed everywhere throughout history, including washing their hands of Christ’s blood…
The MEMRI translation continues:
Clearly, Rev. Dr. Ateek’s use of deicide imagery dovetails closely with anti-Jewish propaganda in the Middle East. Nevertheless, Rev. Lydia Veliko, the UCC’s ecumenical officer, suggests that despite a 2,000-year history of Christian imagery being used to demonize Jews, Rev. Dr. Ateek should nevertheless be given a license to use it in reference to the Jewish state. In her report from Israel-Palestine published on Dec. 9, 2005 she wrote:
No one is asking Rev. Dr. Ateek to “relinquish” his theology of suffering, but to speak more honestly about the sources of that suffering in a manner that does not fuel further hostility toward Jews. They are asking that Rev. Dr. Ateek give the Jewish people the same consideration the UCC is asking owners of major league sports teams to give to indigenous peoples. For while UCC leaders have defended Rev. Dr. Ateek’s use of deicide imagery in reference to Israel, the denomination has called upon its members to tell the owners of the Cleveland Indians that the name and logo of the baseball team is offensive to indigenous people. According to the “action alert” issued by the denomination, “negative stereotyping in the naming of Sports Teams and their Mascots (sic)” contributes to:
If the name and logo of a major league baseball team encourages violence against indigenous peoples, then surely the use of deicide imagery in reference to Israel by a prominent Christian theologian in the Middle East can encourage violence against Jews and Israelis. The UCC seems willing to police offensive public speech from a major league baseball team, but defends it when it comes from Rev. Dr. Ateek. Why?
Another troubling aspect about Sabeel is that elimination of Israel as a Jewish State figures prominently in the imagination of its founder, Rev. Dr. Ateek and his supporters. In Justice and Only Justice, Rev. Dr. Ateek writes:
Eventually, Rev. Dr. Ateek’s reluctant support for Israel’s right to exist gave way to an expressed desire to see it dismantled. In 2004, Sabeel issued a statement in which it said its vision for the future was: “One state for two nations and three religions.” More recently, in its spring 2007 issue of Cornerstone, Sabeel published an article by Alain Epp Weaver, who wrote: After the horrors of the Shoah, it is understandable that the idea of Israel as a safe haven with a Jewish majority would be so important to many Jews. But must such a haven be tied to a project of maintaining and projecting a Jewish majority by any and all means? Might not a bi-national future in one state be one in which Palestinians and Israelis alike both sit securely under vine and fig tree? Ultimately, Sabeel’s narrative is that Jewish sovereignty, not Arab efforts to deprive the Jewish people of their homeland, is the cause of suffering in the Middle East. Broadcasting this narrative only encourages further violence against Israel.
Because of these and other problems, Jewish leaders in the United States have condemned the organization in particularly forceful terms.
On August 23, 2007, the Anti-Defamation League analyzed a Sabeel document (“A Call for Morrally Responsible Divestment”). The ADL stated “the document ignores the good-faith efforts Israel has made at peace, and fails to recognize the terrorism and violence perpetrated by Palestinians aimed at destroying the State of Israel.”
In January 2007, the ADL issued a backgrounder that condemned Sabeel for “generationg hostility towards Israel” and for its use of “theologically charged accusations” that belie “its professed passion for reconciliation.” The report continues:
And on Jan. 19, 2007, Ethan Felson, associate director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs criticized U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) for giving a keynote address at a Sabeel event in Cleveland. Felson told the Baltimore Jewish Times that:
On May 15, 2006 the Simon Wiesenthal Center protested the decision of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship to honor Rev. Dr. Ateek with a “peacemaking” award, stating that “honoring Ateek rewards and emboldens the forces of extremism in the Middle East and is a supreme slap in the face of the Jewish people.”
Old South’s Response
Sadly, rather than responding to Jewish concerns about Sabeel’s hostile rhetoric in an honest and forthcoming manner, as responsible interfaith dialogue would require, Rev. Taylor has engaged in a patently obvious divide-and-conquer startegy with the Jewish community in Boston. In her Sept. 9, 2007 sermon, Rev. Taylor portrays the Jewish community in Boston as divided between two groups — an “angry hard right side” that complains about Sabeel in “colorful and incedinary language” and another more compliant side willing to negotiate through “quiet, respectful and meaningful communications.” What Rev. Taylor does not reveal however, is that the two groups she describes as part of the reasonable Jewish establishment – the local chapter of the ADL, and the Jewish Community Relations Council – are both part of national organizations that have raised grave concerns about Sabeel’s hostile rhetoric and agenda. The revulsion of the Jewish community toward Sabeel’s use of decide imagery is across-the-board and is not confined to the Jewish community’s “hard right.”