Saturday, January 04, 2014

4-Jan-14: Like talking to the wall

St James's Piccadilly [Image Source]
On December 30, 2013, we sent the following letter to officials of St. James's Church, Piccadilly, London:
To: Lindsay Meader, Lucy Winkett, Hugh Valentine
St James's Church, London
Subject: A sincere request that you reconsider the path you are taking 

I invite you to read what my wife and I (parents of a fifteen year old daughter possessed of a heart filled with love and charity, and murdered by those who hate precisely those qualities) have published about your elaborate, mischievous and profoundly misleading evocation of the security barrier that saves lives every day.

It appears on our blogsite at
http://thisongoingwar.blogspot.com/2013/12/30-dec-13-pretend-walls-twisted.html

Sincerely,
Arnold Roth
Jerusalem
Tonight, they sent this letter to us in reply:
Thank you for your e-mail about the Bethlehem Unwrapped festival here at St James’s.
We believe that the only lasting security for all the peoples of the Middle East will be a just and lasting solution to the present injustice. Kairos Palestine states that Palestinian resistance is a response to the occupation.
‘We call on the Israelis to end the occupation. Then they will see a new world in which there is no fear, no threat, but rather security, justice and peace.’
85% of the Wall has been built on Palestinian land, not on the 1967 border. Nearly 10% of Palestinian land has been effectively annexed by the Wall, separating farmers from their land, residents from their wells, dividing families.
In our view the wall is not secure. Thousands of Palestinians smuggle themselves into Israel every day. A determined person on a mission would have no difficulty getting through. The suicide bombings stopped because even the small minority of Palestinians who had supported them originally realised they were counterproductive.
We have made sure that the Israel government’s statement that the Barrier was built for the security of Israeli citizens is properly reflected. The security argument is one that will be explored more fully in Saturday’s debate, including the specific point that the wall was a necessary response from the government to protect its citizens from the appalling attacks they suffered as they travelled on buses and elsewhere within Israel.  We affirm the obvious truth that grief knows no boundaries of ethnicity or nationality and that individual tragedies bring the same heartache to every family; Israeli, Palestinian, and in these days, the people of South Sudan and Syria.

Yours
Joanna Hines and Tony Sanchez
Churchwardens  on behalf of the PCC of St James’s Church, Piccadilly
We have just sent them this:
Joanna Hines and Tony Sanchez
Churchwardens on behalf of the PCC of St James’s Church, Piccadilly 
It is depressing, though not surprising, that your boilerplate response to us entirely avoids dealing with the issues we addressed to you. We actually had some important things to say.
Your reply manages to convey that, in your view, the elaborate staging of a public relations stunt on the grounds of St James's has advanced the cause of understanding and peace. This is a great shame.  
Sincerely,
Arnold Roth
Jerusalem
There are some wise and incisive articles that have been written by people with considerably more sense than the officials of St James’s Church, Piccadilly. One of the most powerful comes from Dr. Denis MacEoin, of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, a noted scholar in Islamic studies. His open letter, addressed to the same St. James's people with whom we have just exchanged messages, is online here. A very brief excerpt:
An Anglican priest, Stephen Sizer, who was responsible for your wall, is a fanatic whom all Jews I know consider to be an anti-Semite, bringing back to modern churches a theology that we thought had been discarded. Supercessionism is just another way of saying that Christians are superior to Jews, that Jews have denied God and are destined to go to Hell. It is not a pleasant doctrine, and it shocks me that you make room for it. In an age when anti-Semitism is growing daily, when Jews are fleeing European countries, when calls to exterminate the Jews are easily found on the Internet, what on earth are you thinking, to dice so freely with the very forces you might otherwise despise. Why do terrorists win your sympathy more readily than Jewish children murdered in their beds? [Letter from Dr Denis MacEoin, December 29, 2013]
Dr MacEoin's punchy and very sober letter deserves the widest exposure.

A friend from the UK, not Jewish and deeply perturbed by the St. James's scandal and by the motivations behind it, wrote us a few days ago expressing support for peace and utter rejection of the hatred that oozes from the Piccadilly Wall. She ended with this anecdote:
Some lovers of Israel in London were praying, ‘G-d, we want to visit this big church in Piccadilly and they won’t let us in.‘ This answer quickly came from heaven: "No, I have never been there either." 
We think the spirit of her story is borne out by the ongoing and highly visible malice of the St. James's leadership as well as by the stunning silence of both the Church of England and the world wide Anglican Communion. St. James's says it is affiliated with both.

4 comments:

Lesley Robinson said...

I can only direct readers of this worrying article to the Parable of the Samaritan.

God help the Churchwardens of St James'; after all, He's the only one that can make good come from evil.

Lesley Robinson said...

In response to this worrying article, I can only direct readers to the parable of the Samaritan.

The theologically ignorant churchwardens of St James' are clearly in great need of God's help. He is the only one who can make evil work for good, after all.

Martin J. Malliet said...

How I would respond to the letter from Joanna Hines and Tony Sanchez, Churchwardens on behalf of the PCC of St James’s Church, Piccadilly (part 1 of 2)

You write: "We believe that the only lasting security for all the peoples of the Middle East will be a just and lasting solution to the present injustice."

That is very true, because it is always true, it is a tautology: a just and lasting solution to a present injustice puts an end to the injustice, and that end is what is meant by the word 'peace'.

Only, injustices are always committed by people, and just and lasting solutions that put an end to them can also only be brought about by people. It is therefore unavoidable to first name the people and what they did to commit the injustice, and then to name the people and what they have to do in order to bring about a just and lasting solution that puts an end to it. These are all questions of facts, and facts can be known and described. The matter is not intractable, it is possible to solve it, of that we can be sure.

As every child knows, and expresses by the habitual accusation "you started it!", it is necessary to start from the beginning of what led to the present injustice. Because if you do not start from the beginning, you are bound to make the mistake of taking consequences for causes.

The beginning of what led to the present injustice are the conflicting aims and claims of two groups of people, the representatives of the Jewish Zionists, and the leaders of the Muslim Arabs. The first group wished to create a Jewish state on part of the territory of Palestine, the second group wished to prevent that. Both groups often argued that their claims were rights, but it is fair to say that none was able to prove that their claims were indeed rights. They were just claims, and that is quite normal. However, there is no other lawful way to solve a conflict of claims than by negotiation in good faith.

As is evident from the aims of the leaders of the Muslim Arabs, the second group gave itself no room for negotiation, and consequently refused to negotiate an agreement. In other words, the second group simply blocked the only lawful way to solve the conflict of aims and claims. Everything that followed from there is a consequence of this unlawful and unrealistic act committed by the leaders of the Muslim Arabs.

The creation of the Jewish State of Israel in 1948 by the representatives of the Jewish Zionists in the absence of an agreement was a consequence of the refusal of the leaders of the Muslim Arabs to negotiate an agreement, and not of the willingness of the representatives of the Jewish Zionists to negotiate an agreement. As no violent displacement or massacre of people was committed, this act by default cannot be qualified as an act of aggression.

The war waged by the leaders of the Muslim Arabs against the newly created Jewish State of Israel was a further consequence of their own refusal to negotiate an agreement. It must therefore be qualified as an act of aggression, an unjust war. And an unjust war, i.e. a war in defence of an unproven right, is a crime. That is were it stood in 1948. And that is were it stands today. The present injustice is the consequence of a crime against humanity committed by the leaders of the Muslim Arabs in 1948, the result of an unjust war waged by these same leaders up till today.

The only people who can bring about a just and lasting solution that puts an end to the present injustice are the criminals responsible for the present injustice, the leaders of the Muslim Arabs. And the only way to do this is by making repentance and paying restitution through negotiaton in good faith with the victims of the crime, the representatives of the Jewish Zionists.

In simple words: it is back to square one, with the additional burden of a debt for 65 years of war crimes.

Martin J. Malliet said...

How I would respond to the letter from Joanna Hines and Tony Sanchez, Churchwardens on behalf of the PCC of St James’s Church, Piccadilly (part 2 of 2)

If you find this way of reasoning too uncompromising, I would like to point out to you that it is uncompromising only on one single point, namely on the principle that negotiation in good faith is the only lawful, orderly way of resolving conflicts of aims and claims that are no proven rights. The outcome of the negotiation is completely open, and it can only be completely open when the negotiation is conducted in good faith. That's why it is necessary to be uncompromising on this point, for if not conducted in good faith the negotiation cannot lead to a lasting and just compromise.

It is also clear that good faith has to be proven, and that proof of good faith today can only rest on repentance made by those who violated the principle of lawful negotiation in the past.

There is much more to be said, of course. There always is. I nevertheless think that it is of secondary importance to add more explanations. Such as an explanation of the difference between representatives and leaders. My letter is already much too long.