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May 28, 2018

Distorted History at Christ at the Checkpoint 2018

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Jack Munayer speaks at the Christ at the Checkpoint, 2018. (Photo: Dexter Van Zile)

May 28, 2018 marks the first day of the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference, a so-called peacemaking event organized by the Bethlehem Bible College, a non-denominational Evangelical institute of higher learning located in Beit Jala in the West Bank. Speakers from around the world purport to inform attendees about the Israel-Palestinian conflict and how Evangelicals, particularly those in the United States and Europe, can help bring the conflict to an end.

On the afternoon prior to the first night of the conference, which is held every two years, organizers host an orientation session where first-time attendees are instructed in the history of the conflict. This year's session was offered by Jack Munayer, an Israeli citizen who like his father Salim, has been particularly harsh in his description of Israel and its supporters.

Munayer, who was introduced as an “expert” by Gary Burge, a former professor at Wheaton College in Illinois, offered a particularly one-sided depiction of the Arab-Israeli conflict. For example, he described the expulsion of Arabs from Lydda during the 1948 War as premeditated act of ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Israel without informing his audience of more than 100 listeners, most of them first-time attendees, that Arabs were expelled from the city after a previously agreed upon truce was violated by the inhabitants of the city. It was this violation that precipitated the expulsion that Munayer describes.

During the question and answer period, Munayer was asked how the Palestinians have come to grips with with the legacy of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who assisted the Nazis in the Holocaust and also broadcast virulent Jew-hatred into Muslim countries in the Middle East during World War II, once telling his listeners in a radio address to “kill the Jews wherever you find them.”

Munayer's response was telling.

He said “I think that the Palestinians are split. There would be different opinions of what they think of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem.” Munayer then stated, “I don't accept the premise that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem helped accelerate [or] encourage the Holocaust in any manner. I don't think that there are any Palestinians or any serious Holocaust historians that will accept that either.”

Munayer's response is simply shocking. The Grand Mufti's participation and support for the murder of Jews in Europe is well-documented. He recruited Bosnian Muslims to serve in Hitler's SS and also wrote letters to Nazi officials to stop planned exchanges of Jewish children for German POWs held by the allies during the war.

As a German official testified before the judges at Nuremberg, “The Mufti was an accomplished foe of the Jews and did not conceal that he would love to see all of them liquidated…”

Why is what the Grand Mufti said and did during the Holocaust important today? Because the man is a national hero to many Palestinians. President Mahmoud Abbas described him as such in 2013.

The Christ at the Checkpoint has a well-documented tendency to condemn Israel while failing to hold Palestinian leaders to account for their misdeeds. Munayer's refusal to acknowledge the role that the Grand Mufti played in the Holocaust is a clear sign to his fellow Israeli citizens that he is not serious about promoting the cause of peace. If there is to be peace between Arab and Jew in the Holy Land, one issue the Palestinians must confront forthrightly is the Mufti's impact on both communities.

Posted by dvz at May 28, 2018 05:24 PM

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