CONCERNS REGARDING CHRISTIAN NGOs AND ISRAEL
Because of our growing concern regarding many Western NGOs' blatant anti-Semitic philosophy and purpose, I have decided to publically publish this letter that Grace and I sent to Mennonite Central Committee in February, 2015. At the Director's invitation, we met with him and the Board Chairperson, via Skype, in early March to discuss the letter and its contents in further detail. Our reception was warm, and we were given the opportunity to answer some of their questions; there has not been any on-going dialogue; and the concern continues to gnaw at our minds, not just regarding MCC, but many other Western NGOs with a similar inclination to believe and act on the basis of a factually false narrative.
Here is the letter:
LETTER TO MENNONITE CENTRAL COMMITTEE
February 17, 2015
Dear MCC Canada Director, MCC Board and anyone connected with MCC in Israel,
As you know, Grace and I are MCC alumni having served in a teaching capacity at the David Livingstone Teacher Training College in Livingstone, Zambia. We have always admired MCC’s development work around the world, and have been proud to be associated with such an organisation. Therefore, we are deeply grieved to be writing this letter, but believe that we cannot be faithful to our Redeemer God and His calling on our lives unless we express what we see happening.
In preparation for our 3 month 2012 BRIDGES FOR PEACE volunteer time in Israel, we used the CMU tour reading list to familiarize ourselves with a broader range of thought; and we accessed the MCC site to read policy related to the work in Israel, and the partners with whom MCC chooses to work.
Later, in our 2013 visit to Israel, we met with MCC’s public relations person at the time, for a tour of MCC projects in Bethlehem. She also arranged for us to meet Dr. Yad Isaac of Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem who gave us an overview of the Palestinian perspective that he expected to present to US President Barak Obama later that week.
Our concern is not about the actual development projects, we were impressed with their appropriateness, but rather the Organizations with which MCC has chosen to partner, like Sabeel, for example; and the unquestioned use of the Palestinian narrative by the young recruits that we met.
September and October, 2014, gave us further interaction with Arab Christians; but also with Jews who understand that their God has, according to Biblical Prophecy, brought them back to their land to be stewards of both their own restoration and their land’s redemption; for them, this, of course, includes caring for the Palestinian people, as they anticipate the coming of Messiah.
More recently, I read the December, 2014, MCC blog titled “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People 2014 Statement”, (I did not see an author’s name), and am appalled at the misguided and misguiding nature of the statement. The fact that the writer has indiscriminately assumed the Palestinian narrative, without any suggestion that there is another narrative that accounts for the situation in a very different way, is distressing.
This, again, underscores our deep concern regarding the position taken by MCC in this land that is of special interest to our Creator God; it seems that “in the name of Christ”, and whatever that means for MCC, eliminates the need to apply the rest of the text, especially those many Scriptures concerning the eternal nature of God’s covenant with the children of Abraham.
The recent presentation at CMU, by the MCC Rep who gave us the Bethlehem tour mentioned earlier, was of great concern also because it contained “information” that misinformed, at least, and told outright lies at worst. CMU’s unwillingness to open that forum to questions from other attendees, was equally concerning.
Also, as the responses to her letter to the Free Press indicated, there are many readers who were distressed by her biased and uninformed letter. We know her as associated with MCC, a former spokesperson, and thus we cannot but assume that MCC knows about her presentations, and may support them.
This is of serious concern to us.
At the time of this writing, we have Jeff Halper, ICAHD, in Winnipeg speaking at both the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg; MCC is listed as a sponsor. I see also that MCC funds Halper’s organisation.
ICAHD, although an Israeli organization, is clearly biased against Israel; in fact, Halper’s January, 2014, Newsletter hints strongly that “Israeli Occupation” = Israel, and that “its final demise” will remove it [Israel] for “something new and just” to take its place. That does not sound like a fellow worker toward peace, but like downright anti-Israel/Zionism, which, as we all know, is the new anti-Semitism, whether that is admitted, and it often isn’t, or not.
Hearing Mr. Halper’s rant at the Free Press Café Monday evening did not endear us any more to his clear and expressed Bible and history denying position.
I invariably remember that impassioned devotional I have spoken about to you, MCC Canada Director, before, in which you addressed our MBCI staff from Ezekiel 37. I do not remember whether you were speaking about the literal content of the Prophet’s message regarding God’s hand in resurrecting the “dry bones” of His people and returning them to their land, after the millennia of persecution in other lands, to re- establish them there, but I do remember your passion regarding new life from God.
I do trust that as you continue to read the Prophets regarding God’s returning people, you will note that God’s interest in re-establishing His people in His land is “for the sake of [His] holy name”. I believe that this return is so central to God’s purposes that it is imperative we get it right when we chose to enter and work in Israel.
Is it possible that MCC needs to review its selection of which narrative to believe, and to revisit its understanding of what a Biblical stance regarding its work in Israel, and its choice of partners, might be?
The Palestinian leadership is desperately attempting to re-write history and create a narrative that would give them the right to the claims they wish to make; and they are quite successful in portraying themselves as victims/underdogs; but, at the same time, they are causing immense and unacceptable suffering for their own people, both in Gaza and in Judea and Samaria.
They, however, can only be seen as underdogs when we do not see, whether intentionally or not, the larger historical process that has brought us to where we are today. Look at a map of the region; the surrounding Arab nations own 500 times the amount of land the Jews have in Israel, including Judea and Samaria, the heartland of ancient Israel. Every war that Israel has needed to fight, from 1948 to the present, has been to defend itself against Arab aggression. Where is the fairness in that? Let’s get our David and Goliath metaphor right.
Since an anti-Semitic position is not compatible with God’s purposes for the Jews, His people, in His land, and our partnering with Him in this region to resolve the conflicts, how can anti-Semitic organizations be suitable partners for MCC?
Finally, as Jesus declares in Matthew 25:31-46, serving Him means that “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me”. Jesus, a Jew, seems to be clearly saying that in the final judgement, how we have treated “the least of these brothers of [His]” is crucial. Of course, the “brothers of mine” in some way includes all of us, but the primary literal meaning is His Jewish “brothers”; which is entirely congruent with YHVH’s word to Abram, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
For the sake of Arab Palestinians, please take a close look at MCC policy regarding the work in the Middle East; find it in your heart to bring it in line with God’s WORD.