Wednesday, February 17, 2021

  • Wednesday, February 17, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon



There was a cryptic press release from Canadian Friends of Sabeel:
As announced previously by CFOS, CFOS commenced a defamation action against B’nai Brith Canada arising out of an April 2018 article published by B’nai Brith in which B’nai Brith alleged that CFOS had promoted an anti-Semitic book tour. This defamation action has now been settled. As part of the settlement, B’nai Brith has agreed to delete the article in question as well as all of its related social media posts and publications. CFOS has likewise agreed to delete its Press Release announcing the litigation. 
It appears to be referring to an incident in 2018 when Bnai Brith Canada accused Sabeel's founder, Rev. Naim Ateek, of antisemitism ahead of a book tour.

Since the nature of settlements like this obscure more than they illuminate, the question remains: is Naim Ateek an antisemite?

Sabeel famously espouses a "liberation theology" in which Jesus, a Jew, is portrayed as a Palestinian living under occupation. 

Ateek has gone further than that, directly saying that Jesus is suffering with today's Palestinians under Jewish rule:

[T]he suffering of Jesus Christ at the hands of evil political and religious powers two thousand years ago is lived out again in Palestine. The number of innocent Palestinians and Israelis that have fallen victim to Israeli state policy is increasing. Here in Palestine Jesus is again walking the via dolorosa. Jesus is the powerless Palestinian humiliated at a checkpoint, the woman trying to get through to the hospital for treatment, the young man whose dignity is trampled, the young student who cannot get to the university to study, the unemployed father who needs to find bread to feed his family; the list is tragically getting longer, and Jesus is there in their midst suffering with them. He is with them when their homes are shelled by tanks and helicopter gunships. He is with them in their towns and villages, in their pains and sorrows. In this season of Lent, it seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him. It only takes people of insight to see the hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified. Palestine has become one huge Golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull. 
Ateek denies it, but the imagery of Jesus/Palestinians here being crucified by the Jews is overwhelming - and it is one of the most enduring antisemitic themes there has ever been. He pretends that he is not explicitly referring to Jews as the "evil religious power" of two thousand years ago - but who else could it be?  If this isn't a direct charge of deicide, it is damned close.

The antisemitic imagery does not end there. Ateek wrote "Many of us find [the burning of children during the Holocaust] comparable to what the government of Israel has done to the people of Gaza today." Comparing Israeli actions to the Holocaust is antisemitism, full stop.

Ateek wrote a long essay about Palestinian suicide bombings. He spends no less than five pages showing "understanding" and trying to teach readers what would make Palestinians want to blow up Jews. 
The militants go on to argue that what they are doing is precisely like a soldier in battle who carries a heroic act by storming a club within a military camp and blowing himself up killing soldiers as well as women and children who happen to be enjoying a party. If one looks at it in this context of warfare, then it happens all the time. No war has been free from such acts and its actors were labeled heroes and were awarded medals posthumously. They were not called terrorists. In the West such acts are deemed heroic, but in Islam, due to the close ties between God and country, they are given a religious character and the people involved are considered “shuhada” (martyrs); their act is martyrdom and its prize is paradise rather than a human military medal. When one considers it from this angle, then being engaged in war and the defense of one’s homeland, these militants would argue, the suicide bombings could be a legitimate way of resistance. 
Not a word is written trying to explain why Israelis might want to live in their own homeland in peace. So even though he condemns suicide bombings, the amount of sympathy he shows for the terrorists nearly overwhelms the condemnation itself.

Even worse, Ateek has described Hamas as an Islamic "liberation theology movement," which drew applause from an audience near Detroit in 2008. His pretense of being against violence rings a bit hollow.

Theologically, Sabeel is a supersessionist movement, that denies all of Jewish thought and belief by saying that Christians have taken over any covenant God had with Jews and Jews have no national rights. One example of Sabeel's erasure of Jewish covenantal rights: "The twelve names of the twelve sons of Jacob, who gave rise to the twelve tribes of Israel, represent God’s people according to the self-understanding of the Jews, who at a particular moment in their history started to see themselves as God’s only people. The twelve names of the twelve apostles here represent God’s people restored after the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is God’s people in an inclusive sense." 

As a result, Ateek and Sabeel denigrate Jews and Judaism, using terms such as "primitive" and "tribal" to describe Judaism and saying that the "heart of the Torah" says to destroy all non-Jews in Israel (many examples here.)

Supersessionism has been used for 2000 years as a reason to persecute Jews. 

Put it all together and it is difficult to say that Ateek is not an antisemite. 







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