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April 27, 2012

Malcolm Lowe on Mitri Raheb's Trail

Rachel Lerner and Mitri Raheb for Web.JPG
Rev. Mitri Raheb, a Lutheran pastor in Bethlehem at the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s 2010 General Assembly. (Dexter Van Zile)

When it comes to documenting the troubling aspects of Lutheran Pastor Mitri Raheb’s commentary about the modern state of Israel, Malcolm Lowe is the go-to man.

Lowe, a New Testament scholar who lives in Jerusalem with his wife Petra Heldt, a renowned scholar and teacher in her own right, has been keeping a tab on the anti-Zionist leanings of prominent Palestinian Christians for quite some time.

In 2003 he wrote an essay that was published in a reprint of James Parkes’ book End of an Exile: Israel, the Jews and the Gentile World (Micah Publications, 2005). In this essay, Lowe documents how Geries Khoury, a Greek Catholic layman, described the First Intifadah as “a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.” Khoury did this in his book, The Intifadeh of Heaven and Earth (Al-Hakim, 1989)

Lowe writes the following:

The cover of Khoury’s book consists of a photograph of a church tower on which the PLO flag has been hoisted. I recognized the building as a Catholic church in Bethlehem on which I had seen numerous Arabic graffiti, only they had been too high up for me to read from the ground. With the aid of a magnifying glass, I now discovered that church and tower were covered with Islamic slogans such as “Islamic jihad!” and “Allah is the greatest!”

Unwittingly, perhaps, the Catholic Khoury thus chose to symbolize his Palestinian liberation theology with the desecration of a Catholic church by Muslims, a desecration perpetrated in the name of the intifada that his book glorifies. This egregious slip-up is as revealing as it is absurd. It accurately typifies how the book desecrates the Christian vocabulary in the service of the Islamic jihad against Israel, regardless of the damage done to the church.

Khoury’s use of Christian theology and scripture to legitimize violence against Israel did not prevent him from participating in a number of ecumenical events organized by the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation and even the World Council of Churches.

Officials at these organizations must not have read Lowe’s 2003 essay. Go figure.

Lowe’s research could have been particularly helpful to CBS reporter Bob Simon who lionized Mitri Raheb as a peacemaker in a recent segment on 60 Minutes. Lowe has written a total of three articles about Raheb that have appeared in the Gatestone Institute. Two of these articles appeared well before the segment aired.

The first of Lowe’s articles on Raheb came in November 2011. In this piece , Lowe draws attention to how Raheb used an argument based on DNA to assail the Jewish connection to the land of Israel. He also details how Raheb tries to depict the Palestinians as the new chosen people. Lowe writes that Raheb’s “fundamental aim” is to

show that wherever the Bible talks about a Chosen People, it means today's Palestinians and specifically the Palestinian Arab Christians. Yes, he really means to make that preposterous claim. Consider a few quotations, and note that his initial inclusion of "part of the Jewish people" has vanished: now it is just Palestinians."

"Actually, the Palestinian Christians are the only ones in the world that, when they speak about their forefathers, they mean their actual forefathers, and also the forefathers in the faith." "So, that is the reality of the peoples of the land. Again, they aren't Israel. This experience I'm talking about, it's only the Palestinians who understand this, because Israel represents Rome." "It was our forefathers to whom the revelation was given..."

If one reads attentively all the "Palestinian theology" produced by Raheb and Ateek and their like, one finds that this claim about Palestinian chosenness, with the concomitant disqualification of Israel, is the whole point of the exercise.

Lowe again drew attention to Raheb’s use of an argument based on DNA to denigrate the Jewish connection to the land of Israel in another piece, this one published in January 2012 after a German media company decided to give Raheb an award for his status as a “quiet peacemaker.”

In a more recent piece, this one published on April1 18, also at the Gatestone Institute, Lowe details the controversy surrounding the award described above.

In particular, Lowe describes how the decision of former federal German president, Prof. Roman Herzog, to participate in the award ceremony on Feb. 24 provoked complaints from leaders in Germany. According to Lowe Raheb’s critics “include pastors and theology professors” who “wrote individually in addition to the protests sent by the boards of associations.”

Lowe’s most recent article may have come out to late to have an impact on Simon’s reporting at 60 Minutes, the articles linked to in Lowe’s article indicate quite clearly that not everyone regards Raheb as the peacemaker Bob Simon portrayed him as being.

Did anyone at 60 Minutes vet Mitri Raheb?

Posted by dvz at April 27, 2012 01:51 PM

Comments

Did anyone at 60 Minutes vet Raheb? Of course they did. They heard his hatred of Israel and that was all the vetting they needed.

Posted by: Ben at April 29, 2012 09:37 PM

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