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March 07, 2016

Palestinian Pastor Helps PA Official Broadcast Propaganda at Christ at the Checkpoint

Amira and Isaac.jpg
Hanna Amira from the Palestinian Authority and Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac from the Bethlehem Bible College at Christ at the Checkpoint 2016. (Photo: Dexter Van Zile)

By now, most people have come to expect that officials from the Palestinian Authority will speak words of peace when addressing foreigners and words of hate when they speak to their own people. And most people realize that PA officials will level outrageous charges at Israel every chance they get. This is what the PA does. Governing through the use of misinformation and demonizing propaganda comes with the territory if you're in charge of the Palestinian Authority.

But even the most hardened and cynical observer of the Palestinian Authority would be shocked at the speech given by a PA official at the opening session of the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference that began today, Monday, March 7, 2016. (This conference, organized by the Bethlehem Bible College, a non-denominational Evangelical school located in the West Bank, has taken place every even-numbered year since 2010.)

The speech was given by Hanna Amira, who serves as the chairman of the Higher Presidential Committee for Christian Affairs for the Palestinian Authority. During his speech, he stated “The Israeli government is giving the green light to the Army and to the settlers to continue the acts of killing and attacking the Palestinian people, in particular, the children and the young and the women.?

This is defamation, pure and simple. It is the Palestinian Authority, not the Israeli government that has given the green light for its people to kill. They have done this by falsely accusing the Israeli government of having designs on the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. In response to this incitement (which will be addressed in more detail below), many young Palestinians have attacked Israeli soldiers and civilians with knives.

In the course of these attacks, which have killed more than two dozen Israelis (including one mother who died in front of her children), Palestinian attackers are sometimes shot to death. Israel is not giving its citizens or soldiers to kill anyone, most especially women and children. It is the PA that is doing this and as a result, the people it is supposed to protect are getting killed.

Amira also added that he and the audience were in “the cradle of religions and civilizations and it was in this context that many prophets spoke about the values of coexistence and forgiveness. And today in Palestine we continue to speak about these values despite the historical injustice we are going through for the last 68 years of occupation and aggression.?

While Israel is continuing to commit crimes, Amira said, the Palestinians are “giving a historic example of coexistence and the rejection of violence and hatred.? He continued:

We have created a national non-violent resistance [a] national peaceful resistance in our fight and in our struggle to achieve freedom and achieve peace and change the current circumstances and establish our Palestinian state.

This is an outrageous thing for Amira to say in light of the horrific stabbing attacks mentioned above. They are not the actions that can be characterized as “non-violent? and “peaceful resistance. They are acts of murder.

It’s also an outrageous thing to say in light of the hateful polemics that the PA has been leveling at Israeli Jews since it was established in the mid-1990s and which have intensified during the stabbing attacks that began last fall. The Palestinian Authority is not presiding over a peaceful resistance movement. It is inciting young people to kill Israeli Jews going about their lives.

Amira’s boss, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has praised Palestinians who have murdered Israelis in cold blood. In September 2015, Abbas declared, “The Al-Aqsa [Mosque] is ours, and they have no right to defile it with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem." He also stated “"We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every Martyr (Shahid) will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah."

This is not the language of coexistence. This is the language of religious incitement coming out of the mouth of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

And here was Hanna Amira from the PA claiming that the Palestinians have applied the principles of coexistence handed down by the prophets.

We are used to politicians offering up a self-serving and distorted view of reality, but this was over the top. Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the events of the past few months know full well that the Palestinian leaders and the people they have incited to attack Jews. (PA President Mahmoud Abbas is not the only Palestinian leader who has spoken like this. There have been numerous others.)

Amira’s speech, given to an audience of Christians from throughout the world, was disgraceful.

But what was even more disgraceful was how he conveyed this message to the approximately 300 international attendees at the conference.

You see, Amira does not speak English and he needed to have someone translate his speech for him.

Who did the translation? A pastor, a Christian pastor!

The pastor in question is Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac, who is ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. In addition to serving as the director of the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference, Rev. Dr. Isaac also serves as academic dean of Bethlehem Bible College.

Despite his training and his credentials, Rev. Dr. Isaac allowed himself to be used as a mouthpiece for some pretty dishonest propaganda.

And to make matters worse, he did it at a conference dedicated to confronting religious extremism, a conference that he organized. By repeating Amira’s speech word for word, Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac helped obscure the problem of religious extremism that the conference was intended to confront.

The scene, captured in the photo above at the top of this entry, is a key to understanding the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference. Suppose Rev. Dr. Isaac had, in the middle of Amira’s presentation, refused to translate any more of the text for the audience, telling both Amira and the audience, “I can’t go on. This is just too much. I’m sorry.?

Suppose he did that. He’d be in a lot of trouble. He would have embarrassed an official from the PA in front of an audience of 300 foreigners (and a number of Palestinian security officials who were also in attendance). So Rev. Dr. Isaac continued on like a soldier, translating Amira’s speech, as propagandistic as it was, until the very end.

It’s hard for the school's supporters to admit, but the Bethlehem Bible College serves as a propaganda arm of the Palestinian Authority. Today, on the first night of the 2016 Christ at the Checkpoint Conference, that reality was on display for those who had eyes to see and ears to hear.

Posted by dvz at March 7, 2016 04:49 PM


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