Friday, November 02, 2007

Rami Ayyad - remembering ‘a genuine martyr’

Today is All Souls' Day. Many Anglican churches still observe this day and have a book in which one may write the names of those who have died in order that they might be remembered. And in the evening of this day, candles are lit in memory of them.

Please light a candle today in memory of Rami Ayyad, whom the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, called ‘a genuine martyr’.

The murder of the Palestinian-Arab Christian Bookseller casts a tragic light upon the attitudes adopted by major Christian organisations to the problems of the Middle East.

Rami Ayyad was manager of the Palestinian Bible Society Bookshop in Gaza City. He was abducted on Saturday 6th October shortly after closing his shop for the day, and his corpse was found early next morning. His funeral took place the same day. The staff at the Palestinian Bible Society work against a constant backdrop of violence and conflict. They face the threat of attack daily. But they are dedicated to demonstrating the Bible’s life-changing message to the Palestinian people.

According to those who knew him, Rami Ayyad loved to share the Good News. He is described as a smiling, loving big guy, the face of the Bible Society in Gaza, with a heart full of the love of Jesus. We rest in the knowledge that he is now with the Lord, for ‘we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, and eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands’ ( 2Cor 5:1).

But here on earth, Mr Ayyad leaves behind a pregnant wife and two young children. He also leaves behind a shocked community of believers.

Mr Ayyad was a witness to his faith in Gaza, which since the Israeli withdrawal has plummeted into violence reminiscent of Beirut in the 1970s: Palestinian self-rule has not fostered peace. His witness in the Holy Land was transformed into martydom at the hands of the militant Islamic fanatics of Hamas - who decree that there shall be no peace until its sectarian brand of Islam is politically, militarily and spiritually triumphant.

It is folly on the part of Christian churches and organisations in the west to ally themselves with militant Palestinianism, instead of moderates. Mr Ayyad's murder should bring home to all of us what is actually at stake in the Middle East.

Cranmer joins today with fellow Christians in the Middle East, in Gaza, in the West Bank, in Israel and worldwide, in mourning and condemning the murder of Rami Ayyad, and in praying for his family as they attempt to settle in the West Bank and continue to come to terms with their profound a grievous loss.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Dr. Irene Lancaster FRSA said...

A very timely article. In private, every leading Christian cleric who I have met in Israel has told me that the real problem is Muslim extremism, including hate sermons emanating from mosques within Israel itself: hate against Christians and hate against Jews.

However, I have also been begged not to publicise the names of these top clerics, in case something happens to them and their flocks.

I wonder if you or your readers have a reasonable answer to this one.

Meanwhile, do access my review of Dr. Matthias Kuentzel's newly-translated book, 'Jihad and Jew=Hate', published yesterday.

http://irenelancaster.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/11/review-of-jihad.html

It traces the way Nazis were given a haven in Arab countries after the war and continued their doctrine, which their Muslim host communities then combined with an interpretation of the Koran which has led to the mess in the Middle East, currently affecting not only Christians and Jews in that region, but in Europe (including Britain), the USA and other parts of the world as well.

Thanks once again for highlighting this wicked state of affairs. Under Jewish rule, Christians in Gaza were of course allowed and even encouraged to worship and flourish.

My friend, an Anglican vicar, has just returned from Jerusalem to Manchester and has praised the Israelis for increasing the number of new churches (naturally there are loads that are old) in that city from 3 to 14 in the last 25 years. Plus, they are all packed to the brim, according to her.

And yet the world continues to blame Israel for Islamic extremism which harms Christians, as well as Jews. I wonder why.

2 November 2007 at 09:23  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Dr Lancaster,

Thank you for that. His Grace is fully aware of the sorts of messages that emanate from many of the mosques in the region (and, indeed, the schools), and how this inevitably results in atrocities like the martyrdom of Rami Ayyad.

Ironically, His Grace came across this on a magnificent Islamic blog a few weeks ago, which states:

"Muslim dignitaries visiting Jerusalem for an international conference last week came to the remarkable conclusion that Muslims visiting the holy sites there would be free and fairly treated by the Israelis."

The article then proceeds to berate these dignitaries for 'collaborating with Zionism', but a little more reporting in the Muslim media of this sort of finding would not go amiss.

2 November 2007 at 10:04  
Anonymous The recusant said...

This is not a flippant and I am not point scoring but if he's in heaven he doesn't need us to remember him, if the other place then there is no point. Therefore unless you knew him and have fond memories, why light a candle, really what is the point apart from sentimentalising or 'Dianificating' the memory of a man that you didn't know anyway? Will it eases the plight of Palestinian Christians? Will it raise their profile on the political stage? No to both.

To do any good ensure his family that he left behind is looked after, his children educated and carry on with his work, but how can we do him any good lighting a candle?

The only un-sentimentalised rational for this course of action is if by doing so you believe you can still affect the condition of his immortal soul. Maccabeesthe 3 & 4, the book Luther removed in his version of the bible because he didn't like the idea of purgatory is the only rationale for this behaviour because without purgatory the prayers for the dead, friends and loved ones included are redundant. After all this is the original purpose of All Hallows Eve and All Souls/Saints, otherwise let the dead bury the dead.

2 November 2007 at 10:39  
Anonymous oiznop said...

We don't light candles FOR the dead; we light them for us. They help us to focus, remember, and meditate. They have symbolic and liturgical significance. For Protestants, it's nothing to do with praying for the dead, though that might have been its origin.

2 November 2007 at 10:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not just Gaza where this type of thing is happening, view this link for information about similar (ritualistic) murders in Turkey:

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/turkey.christian.missionaries.horrifically.tortured.before.killings/10523.htm

2 November 2007 at 11:07  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

His Grace is perfectly correct about Muslim bigotry, but he has still not challenged the Jewish bigot Dr Lancaster over her defamation of Christianity. Beside the 2000-yr attempted extermination, which she has refused to back with any kind of evidence, she also believes that the Nazis were doing the work of Luther. His Grace either fails to grasp what she is saying, fails to take it seriously or declines to stand up for the truth. I should be interested to know which it is. It is attitudes like hers that inform this sort of thing:

"We can no longer define ourselves as a Christian nation, nor an especially religious one in any sense. The empire is gone, church attendance is at historically low levels, and the Second World War is inexorably slipping from memory."

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=490925&in_page_id=1770

Apart from one aspect of the war, which is the centre of our new state religion. That female vicars are fooled by Dr Lancaster comes as no surprise and no doubt she's all in favour of gay priests too. His Grace really should know better -- and once did.

2 November 2007 at 11:22  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Nedsherry,

His Grace is fully cognisant of what you assert he is either ignorant or content to treat flippantly. But it is not for him to counter any and every assertion made upon his august blog of intelligent and erudite comment. If evidence has been politely requested, and none aduced, one may infer that the omission or refusal rather speaks for itself.

Mr Recusant,

His Grace is in heaven, yet greatly appreciates those who remember him.

2 November 2007 at 11:32  
Anonymous The recusant said...

Dr. Irene Lancaster, thank you for your relevant, thoughtful and incisive contributions to His Graces Blog, I have learned quite a bit about life in modern Israel from you since I was last there. (As I am sure others of good will have also). Be assured of my good wishes and continue to chip in when you feel the urge.

2 November 2007 at 13:07  
Anonymous Dr. Irene Lancaster said...

My goodness, Nedsherry, I have so much empathy for Christianity that my female vicar friend from Manchester seriously asked me last week, as we sat in the Garden Tomb (lovely place, very British and understated) if I wasn't by any chance a 'closet' Christian.

It is not I who say that the Einsatzgruppenfuhrer were following Luther's directives, but the NAZIS themselves.

However, any perusal of Luther's own words about the Jews will leave no-one in any doubt where he stood.

As it happens, Judaism is not in favour of homosexuality, but neither is any other religion, at least in theory.

However, I am not in favour of sharia law in these instances. In addition, although it is not my business whether the various churches agree to women clergy or not, the fact is tha I have taught and worked with such clergy and am not a hypocrite.

In addition, I myself have been invited to deliver a sermon in Hebrew in an Orthodox synagogue in Jerusalem, despite not being a rabbi!

This would not have been possible in Britain and tells you something about the role of minorities and majorities in the various cultures.

It is accepted by any sensible person in the Church that the attitude towards Jews and Judaism has been ambiguous to say the least.

Many are now trying to remedy that. Without sounding condescending, I think His Grace is one of them. So is the group Anglican Friends of Israel, which I helped to found with Simon McIlwaine, its CEO, and which I assist as academic and interfaith advisor. I note that His Grace is linked to their site.

I also think that the present Council of Christians and Jews and even Lambeth Palace (with some blips) are trying to make amends for the way the Jewish community has been treated in the very near past.

Mistakes have been made, not least in my view by the Jewish community itself, for not engaging on blogs like this.

I make it my business to access about 12 blogs a day, some religious, some political and some both.

It is painfully obvious that often I am the only Jewish contributer to these blogs, which is a total tragedy in my view.

Maybe some have just given up in the face of abuse, and maybe some don't know how to engage with Christians.

However, Nedsherry, I have to tell you that I've been involved in teaching Christians all my life and you are the first correspondent I've had who has denied the role of Christian antisemitism in the fate of the Jewish people throughout the ages.

Have a good day!

2 November 2007 at 14:17  
Blogger Straight Mike - tells it as it is said...

The Nazi's did quote Luther but they certainly didn't believe what he believed nor do those who embrace Luther's teaching today support what the Nazis did. It must be remembered that when we talk about Luther and his language we're talking about the 16th century, a period of immense brutality and that Luther (and the chuch) was emerging from darkness without any defined trend of what is, and what is not, acceptable speach. Despite his shortcomings,and he himself was aware that he had many, we (the Church) owe the Monk a lot. The true Church rejects antisemitism and indeed hatred of any other religious group as being wrong.
Shalom.

2 November 2007 at 14:53  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

His Grace is fully cognisant of what you assert he is either ignorant or content to treat flippantly. But it is not for him to counter any and every assertion made upon his august blog of intelligent and erudite comment. If evidence has been politely requested, and none aduced, one may infer that the omission or refusal rather speaks for itself.

His Grace is perfectly correct about his duties as host, and I withdraw my ill-mannered insinuations with apologies.

Dr Lancaster writes:

However, Nedsherry, I have to tell you that I've been involved in teaching Christians all my life and you are the first correspondent I've had who has denied the role of Christian antisemitism in the fate of the Jewish people throughout the ages.

I don't deny that Christianity was hostile to Jews, sometimes exceedingly so; I do deny that it ever had a policy of "extermination", let alone one that lasted 2000 years. The role of Jewish Christophobia in the fate of the Christian peoples is still working itself out.

It is not I who say that the Einsatzgruppenfuhrer were following Luther's directives, but the NAZIS themselves.

Do you accept the Nazis as a reliable guide to history, except where it suits your own anti-Christian agenda? That this alleged "work of Luther" was not completed by the Lutherans themselves is a difficulty you have still to address.

However, any perusal of Luther's own words about the Jews will leave no-one in any doubt where he stood.

Yes, but he stood short of advocating extermination. That is why no attempt at this was made until Germany ceased to be Christian and became Nazi.

I also think that the present Council of Christians and Jews and even Lambeth Palace (with some blips) are trying to make amends for the way the Jewish community has been treated in the very near past.

The blame is not entirely on one side and British Christians have treated Jews rather better than they have at times treated each other.

Have a good day!

And I wish you one, but hope that you will stop promulgating obvious fallacies.

2 November 2007 at 17:54  

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