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February 29, 2008

CPTers Give up Decency for Lent

For most Christians, the forty days before Easter, otherwise known as Lent, is a time of fasting, introspection, penance and prayer. Some Christians however, use the Lenten season as an opportunity to dust off New Testament polemic that projects humanity's worst faults onto Jesus's adversaries in first century Jerusalem and use these passages to portray modern Israel as "crucifying" the Palestinian people. This strategy is similar to the Bethlehem Formula in which Christians use the season of Advent as an opportunity to portray Israel as denying the Holy Family (Palestinians) a place to rest in the city of Jesus's birth.

The Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is the most recent group to demonstrate how the church's liturgical calendar can be used to demonize Israel. Taking a page from Sabeel's book of spells, CPT is using the Stations of the Cross to portray Israel and its supporters as solely responsible for the suffering of the Palestinian people.

The results are predictable. The First Station compares the plight of Palestinian youths detained by the IDF after allegedly trying to break into a woman's home with "Jesus, accused by his enemies [as he] stands condemned before Pilate." The implication is clear -- the hearings faced by the young men are the same as the Jewish leaders who, according to the Gospels, condemned Jesus to death.

The Second Station ("Jesus Takes Up His Cross") begins with a passage from the Gospel of John:

When the chief priests and the guards saw [Jesus] they cried out, "Crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him." ... They cried out, "Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!" Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your king?" The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar." Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus, and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. John 19: 6, 15-17

It continues with the following text:

For 40 years, Palestinians have born the cross of military occupation. Palestinians have lost their land, their homes, their olive trees, their cultural traditions, and their lives. Throughout these 40 years, people around the world, but especially Christian Zionists, have offered their support to the Israeli military occupation of Palestine. Because the unconditional support our governments offer the state of Israel, we are complicit in the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Predictably, there is no mention of the facts that Egypt and Jordan deprived the Palestinians of their sovereignty between 1948 and 1967 and that Palestinians were offered a state before the Second Intifada. And while the CPTers condemn Christian Zionists for supporting Israel, they make no mention of the support Hamas, Hezbollah and other terror groups have received from other countries in the Middle East.

Groups like CPT and Sabeel, aren't going to let inconvenient facts get in the way of a modern Passion Play with a cast of villainous Jewish leaders and innocent suffering Palestinians.

The sad fact is this: A growing number of Christians feel comfortable and justified speaking about Israel, the Jewish State, in the same manner that Christians in medieval Europe spoke about Jews. Just as Jews of medieval Europe were portrayed as a demonic obstacles to God's purposes for humanity, modern-day Israel is portrayed as the sole obstacle to Palestinian and Arab well-being and peace in the region, and ultimately a threat to international peace.

It was a lie then; it's a lie now.

Religious leaders of all stripes should shudder at how the church's liturgical seasons, designed to inspire introspection, joy and a deeper faith on the part of Christians, have become annual gauntlets of ugly anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish polemic.

Posted by dvz at February 29, 2008 04:46 PM


Is it ever possible to criticize Israeli policies without being labeled an anti-semite or in my case a self-hater ? How insane and self-defeating your fear-filled tactics seem to me, who escaped the Holocaust as a refugee in WWII and who saw the abysmal conditions of our Semitic cousins in the West Bank and Gaza a number of years ago. Have any of you ever been there ? Listen to Avraham Burg, he is telling the truth.

Posted by: Yvonne Byron at March 4, 2008 02:13 AM

Yvonne asks: "Is it ever possible to criticize Israeli policies without being labeled an anti-semite or in my case a self-hater?"

The answer: Yup. It sure is.

Now, I wonder if it's possible for you to acknowledge that the Church has long incited anti-Jewish sentiment by damning the Jews for the death of Jesus; and that repackaging this crucification imagery to demonize Israel might be a matter of concern to people; and that these people are permitted to express their concerns without being accused of accusing "everyone who criticizes Israeli policies" of anti-Semitism.

Posted by: george at March 5, 2008 11:30 AM

As a people of God, whether Christian, Muslim or Jewish, myself being a Christian, our God commands us to keep our faith a living faith. It is a faith where we will stand with justice along with our fasting and praying. For one without the other is emptiness.
What a better way of doing so than in a time of religious celebration? I hope that the CAMERA people or any other Jewish person would see this faith not as an attack against you personally, but against forces of evil, chief among them the Israeli Occupation. Blessings to you all, Tarek

Posted by: Tarek A. at March 7, 2008 02:46 PM

Obama is denouncing and rejecting his immoral supporters, and former close but wrong associates.
I think he is spineless, but at least sensitive to pragmatic criticism.

The Palestinian people have collected a fair amount of faulty and genocidal leaders in the past.

I am empathizing with the ordinary people, but have to advise the Palestinians to dump their Farrakhans, Wrights and embrace their Roosevelts, Churchills......

The CPT is also well advised to climb out of its liberation theology, and work with the enlightened Israelis and Palestinians to end the influence of the Iranian Junta, Russian agents, and Wahhabi clerics on the Middle East.

Posted by: conefor4200 [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 16, 2008 01:10 PM

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