Bishop of Monmouth: ‘Salvation is of the Palestinians’
But for some senior figures in the Church in Wales, support for Palestinians has included support for those who oppose Israel’s existence, to the consternation of some clergy and lay members.
An example was Archbishop Barry Morgan’s statement on the death of Yasser Arafat, when he said that he would remember Arafat not for the many civilian murders for which he was responsible, but for his ‘perseverance and resolve’.
Other concerns include the frequent input from Canon Naim Ateek of the Sabeel Centre, whose attitude towards Israel’s right to exist has been markedly ambivalent. The Canon revived the accusation of deicideagainst the Jewish state, equating Israelis with ‘Herods’ in his 2000 Christmas message. And Palestinians were synonymous with the crucified Christ dying at the hands of the Jewish state at Easter 2001.
The policies and motions of the Church in Wales do not distinguish between Palestinian attacks on Israeli citizens and Israel’s use of force to defend them, instead referring to them both as ‘revenge violence’. Palestinian aggression is blamed on Israel’s resolve to place their citizens’ safety above any other consideration and Israel’s ‘Security First’ policy condemned.
Many members of the Church of Wales are dismayed at the level of disrespect towards Jews and Jewishness tolerated in Church in Wales publications. A few years ago, for example, after complaints about an Irish joke that appeared in a parish magazine, an apology from the vicar appeared in an official press release. In another incident, Archbishop Barry Morgan himself collected up copies of their Welsh-language magazine Y Llan which contained an offensive cartoon and went on TV to apologise to Welsh Muslims.
However, no such apologies were deemed necessary when Y Llan ran an article in which a fictitious contemporary of Jesus opined that none of His disciples were of any use except Judas.
The name of this ‘contemporary’?
And why was the phrase ‘the Jews are cowards’ allowed to remain on the Church-in-Wales Jubilee Fund website for a while year during 2002-3, despite numerous complaints – including one from Archbishop Rowan Williams in which he said the comments were ‘deplorable’ and clearly used ‘inflammatory language about Jews’.
Last year, St David’s Diocese produced a series of short films for use in the ‘Menter’ teaching course. Filmed in the Holy Land and Wales, Menter contains inspiring material for those wishing to learn or reflect upon the Christian faith. But the word ‘Israel’ appears only once.
Neither the Law nor the Prophets; neither Jesus nor His disciples are identified as Jewish. No Jews contribute or are interviewed. Instead only a Palestinian Anglican is described as ’indigenous’ and there are frequent shots of Arab Israelis and Palestinians throughout. It is as though there were no Jews in the Holy Land today.
And in his 2009 Christmas message Dominic Walker, Bishop of Monmouth, wrote that ‘God so loved the world that he sent Jesus to be born in Palestine’. Yet Jesus was a Jew, born in Bethlehem of Judea more than a hundred years before the Romans expelled the Jewish population from the province of Judea and renamed it Palaestina after Israel’s great enemies, the Philistines.
Are bishops not taught the New Testament? Can they not read that ‘salvation is of the Jews’ (Jn 4:22)?
Do they no longer read their Old Testament?
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (Jer 31:31-34).
Are they not taught the art of exposition, the science of history or the perils of redaction?
The leaders of the Church in Wales would do well to reflect upon the true source of their salvation, for it would appear that they are in danger of uprooting Jesus from the Jewish soil which bore Him and mistaking him instead for a Palestinian called Ahmed.