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Ecumenical Accompaniers: further thoughts

26 July 2012


From Jean A. Evans

Sir, - The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Despite what Dr Dinnen writes ( Letters, 20 July), I have met a number of Ecumenical Accompaniers, and also people who have visited the Holy Land under the auspices of Christian Aid and Sabeel.

From these people I have never once heard anything positive said about Israel. Too frequently, they come back making vitriolic and unchristian comments. At the very least, if Israel is seen as an enemy, then we are told to love our enemies and pray for them. I see none of that. This disqualifies them from being peacemakers, because if a peacemaker takes sides, then he or she cannot do that work.

Of course, their views are a good reflection of those who trained them, too, revealing an unpleasant partiality.

I have taken people to explore the issues in this area, and they have been able to meet pro- and anti-Israel citizens and Palestinians. They have come back accepting that the issues are very complicated, and they have not come back judgemental of either side.

95 Glenwood, Llanedeyrn
Cardiff CF23 6UT

From Mr Yisrael Medad

Sir, - While many of the letters have addressed secondary aspects of the General Synod's decisions regarding the situation in the Holy Land ( Letters, 20 July), as resident in the territory under discussion, at the location where the Tabernacle stood in Shiloh, I would like to relate to another issue.

Jews are admonished to treat the stranger, the foreigner, with considered justice. As recorded in Leviticus 19.34: "The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself." This is reflected in Hebrews 13.2: "Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers."

What seems to have been forgotten is that the New Testament recognised no "Palestine", nor were there any Arabs in the country.

Jesus was born in Judea. The Jewish followers of Jesus walk through Judea and Samaria. No Palestine and no Arabs. As Matthew 19.1 notes: Jesus "went into the region of Judea to the other side of the Jordan", which was also part of the land of Israel at that time.

Arabs, as a people, arrived in the land of Israel in the seventh century as conquerors and occupiers. Moreover, when asked by the disciples if Israel would be restored, Jesus indicated that it could very well happen, saying, as recorded in Acts 1.6-8: "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in his own authority . . . and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Again, note the geographic terms.

The Arab, as a stranger, must be provided with all human rights and civil liberties and social freedoms. And he must respond as citizens all over the world do. If they have never accepted Israel's establishment in 1948, however, have gone to war, continued a fedayeen terror campaign, and escalated that into the PLO/ Fatah terrror to be joined by Hamas, it is Israel's responsibility to assure its security, while it is the Arab task to negotiate faithfully a peace based on mutual recognition and coexistence.

Without that spirit, no religion can overcome the differences between Jew and Arab in the land west of the Jordan River.

Shiloh, Mobile Post Efraim 44830 Israel

From Sue Beardon

Sir, - Your report about Dr John Dinnen's motion to Synod refers to the dismay of the Jewish Board of Deputies, especially about support for EAPPI (the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel).

I was part of this programme two years ago, and am also Jewish. I feel sad that some British Jews find such programmes a threat, although many do not. I also find it highly offensive that the activities of EAPPI and support for it is labelled in any way anti-Semitic. Criticism of Israel is based not on the fact that it is a Jewish state, but that it is deemed by pretty well all the world's international organisations to be in contravention of international agreements and humanitarian law.

I will stand up and be counted among those who oppose such behaviour wherever it occurs, perpetrated by whatever religious or ethnic grouping. But that does not make me anti-Israel, and certainly not anti-Semitic.

We have also been accused of ignoring the sufferings of ordinary Israelis. I certainly do not. But I aso recognise that, whereas Israel is a country with a strong army, and huge international support and aid for buying weapons, Palestinians have no state, no army, and no power, and are subjected to daily humiliation and curtailment of their freedoms. This is not a two-sided affair in which the sides are equal.

52 Steade Road
Sheffield S7 1DU

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