Christians for Palestine

Some recent examples of pro-active Christian support for a Palestinian state.

o In 1990, the World Council of Churches fully endorsed Palestinian statehood at a WCC convention in Seoul.

o In the early 1990s the Australian Uniting Church put out a series of anti-Israel publications and pushed the Australian government to declare its recognition of the "State of Palestine"

o Between May and August 1991, the internationally circulated British Christian magazine Restoration published back-to-back issues attacking Israel, denying that the Jews are the people of God, and defending the "just cause" of the Palestinian Arabs whose hundreds of acts of terrorism it called "their mistakes".

o Both the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury have given audiences to Yasser Arafat, who in 1992 asked the supreme head of the Anglican Church to help prevent Israel's "judaisation of Jerusalem".

o In 1992, Jerusalem Anglican Bishop Samir Khafity, in conjunction with an international Islamic organisation, spearheaded efforts to co-sponsor a conference on the situation of the Christians in Israel. According to reports at the time, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Roman Catholic Bishop, and the Lutheran bishop of Jerusalem supported the conference. Like most Palestinian clergy, Khafity has long held Israel responsible for the dwindling number of Palestinian Arab Christians in Judea, Samaria and Gaza - this despite the fact that the Israeli Christian Arab population has increased 363 per cent since 1948.

o The 1994 Women's World Day of Prayer was hijacked by a small group of Christian Arabs from Jerusalem, who drafted a one-sided, anti-Israel liturgy which was prayed by women in hundreds of churches around the world on March 4.

o On June 15, 1994, Israel and the Vatican announced an agreement establishing full diplomatic relations, with the Catholic Church being allowed to participate in efforts to determine the future of Jerusalem. In the ensuing months, the heads of virtually all the major churches in Israel called on Yasser Arafat to pay their respects. And on October 25 of that year, the Vatican announced that it would establish "permanent" and "official" relations with the PLO.

o In August 1994 the US-based Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) reported that after Israel had refused permission for it to set up a station in the Holy Land, it had sought and obtained Arafat's blessing to start transmitting from the PA controlled areas.

o On December 21, 1996, a full-page advertisement appeared in the New York Times entitled "Christians call for a shared Jerusalem". The city was "heritage, hope and home of two peoples and three religions" said the signatories, who included bishops in the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Episcopal church, and clerics from the United Church of Christ, the Reformed Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA) and others.

"Jerusalem at peace," they wrote, "cannot belong exclusively to one people, one country and one religion"... Completely ignoring Jesus' statement that Jerusalem would one day return to Jewish rule, and ignoring the truth of history - that no other religion or nation ever established its capital in Jerusalem, these Christians condemned the Israeli government for believing that Jerusalem should be exclusively Israel's.

o On December 15, 1997 the Episcopal Church's presiding bishop, Edmond Browning, renewed the call for the Israeli government to share Jerusalem as the capital of two sovereign states, Israel and Palestine.

o "East Jerusalem is occupied territory and is not recognised as part of the capital of Israel in the international community, no matter what Israel may claim," Browning was quoted as saying. He noted that the Episcopal Church's General Convention last July passed a resolution calling for a shared Jerusalem for Israel and Palestine. "Such an arrangement will bring honour to the claim of three Abrahamic religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - that Jerusalem is a sacred city to each faith group."

o On February 1, 1998, 12 Palestinian evangelical pastors wrote to well-known American Christian leader Jerry Falwell, pleading with him not to oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state on Eretz Yisrael which, they maintained, was Arab land. They invited Falwell to Israel to see who were the "true victims of this conflict", blaming Israel - instead of the Arab hatred of the Jewish state - for the bloodshed suffered by Palestinians since 1948.

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