Friday, May 23, 2014

23-May-14: On the dignity of murderers and their victims: An appeal to Christian friends

As the tranquility of the Sabbath descends on Jerusalem, where we live, in the coming hour, we have a sincere and practical request to make of the Christians who follow our blog or who receive this from friends who do.

We have listed the names of many churches below: 358 of them, in fact. The website of the World Council of Churches says these are the members of what it terms a "worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service". This post is dedicated to the good people who worship in those churches, some 500 million people.

We're not Christians. Normally our innate respect for the faith of others would be enough to cause us to avert our gaze and remain silent even while inside we might feel that something wrong is being done by others. This is not one of those moments.

In August 2001, we lost our the oldest of our daughters, Malki, who was just fifteen. She died as the victim of an act of murder. No ordinary murder (if such a thing exists), this was a massacre, calculated by those who carried it out in the center of Israel's capital city to achieve maximum casualties among orthodox Jews, and children in particular. (Most of those killed that day were indeed children.) 

Notoriously, people in various parts of the Arab world celebrated the news of the Sbarro massacre publicly, expressing joy at the killings. We know this from mainstream news reports, and from the first-person testimony of one of the massacre's central organizers. Their pride in the carnage extended to the setting up on the campus of An-Najah National University in Nablus, of a replica of the destroyed pizza shop, replete with body parts.

The engineer of our daughter's death, Ahlam Tamimi.
When she says "happy" in this 2012 interview, she means
people in her environment were just thrilled with
the massacre. Watch her say it here.
The World Council of Churches, in the name of a politicized sense of religious mission, made a well-publicized call some weeks ago for its members to do something that, on a reasonable view, is unconscionable and (we say) plainly immoral. When we first wrote about it ["17-Apr-14: Christian solidarity with unrepentant murderers: where's the outrage?"], we mentioned what the WCC's chief executive, Olav Fykse Tveit, a Norwegian Lutheran, said. It's quoted in the WCC press release when he says the church-members for whom he speaks
are called to pray for, visit, and tend to the needs of all prisoners, no matter the reason for their detention
The announcement goes on to invite 
"the churches in the Holy Land to remember Palestinian prisoners through prayers and acts of solidarity that restore to them their freedom with justice and dignity”.
We're appalled that Christians are being encouraged, in the name of their faith, to respect the 'dignity' of convicted and unrepentant murderers of children and of other innocents. Does Olav Fykse Tveit mean that good Christians should pray, visit and tend to a man like Abdullah Barghouti when he calls to them?

Barghouti in the person who assembled the bomb-hidden-inside-a-guitar-case that exploded on the back of a Hamas terrorist inside the Sbarro restaurant, killing and maiming and terrorizing. All in all, Barghouti is responsible for, and was convicted of, the murders of 66 people including our child.

He says it makes him feel bad. That is, it makes him feel bad he has not killed more, so far. This is one of the people for the dignity of whom the World Council of Churches asks good Christians to pray. For the dignity of our daughter Malki and Barghouti's other dozens of victims, no call for prayer has yet issued as far as we know.

Not so incidentally, by far the majority of those victims are of the Jewish faith, in case anyone failed to notice. We strongly suspect that for some, the Jewishness of the victims is an embarrassment, or possibly irrelevant. The silence of our own government and of Jewish organizations at large makes us think some believe this is an aspect best not mentioned. But as a bereaved family whose grief stems from an act of overt hatred of Jews, we believe passionately that this is a matter that must not be permitted to be swept under the carpet. 
Abdullah Barghouti: He feels bad (read why in our post at left)
and astoundingly the WCC asks Christians to pray for him

The murderers themselves, along with their political leaders, say the massacre that stole Malki's beautiful life was justified, great and worthy of emulation. That's not a matter of opinion or doubt; it's all on the public record for anyone who wants to look. They said it, and they keep saying it. Those who carried out the killings are celebrated in their society for having said it and done it. 

So when "the broadest and most inclusive among the many organized expressions of the modern ecumenical movement, a movement whose goal is Christian unity" [sourcestepped up and said that its members ought to respect the 'dignity' of the killers, this was more than just offensive and misconceived. When you ask people to "pray for, visit, and tend to the needs of all [those] prisoners, no matter the reason for their detention", that's arguably a call of encouragement to more acts of murder and hatred. The idea that this emanated from a major global church group is for us unbelievable.

We have of course written directly to the leadership of the World Council of Churches several times. We have yet to receive anything close to a considered response from them. (The correspondence is here: "15-May-14: Knocking at the church door; not getting much response or understanding".)

Now, as ordinary people without any leverage or power but with a deep concern that something very bad has just been done by the WCC, we're asking for the personal help of people of faith wherever they are and whatever their politics. 

We say terrorism and how you relate to it is, more than any other, the litmus test by which our commitment to decency, humanity and justice is measured, and has nothing, but nothing at all, to do with politics or where a person stands on the Arab/Israel conflict. When the principles underlying that test get turned on their head, as the WCC leadership did in April, this demeans and undermines the decency, humanity and sense of justice of those who remain silent in its face. Perhaps this is why the WCC leadership, which certainly knows of our bitter criticism, has remained silent in its face. Or perhaps - as we have heard from friends - it's just not worth their while to bother responding.

We want to make it worth their while by encouraging an outcry of grass-roots protest. Please help us in this.

The World Council of Churches operates from Geneva (150 route de Ferney, PO Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland) where one of its main fax numbers is +41-22-791-0361. Its communication department - quite uncommunicative to our messages - can be reached online here and via Twitter at @oikoumene and @wccMB

We're not suggesting a specific message - just asking that people take the time to understand what it means when one of the world's most influential Christian organizations calls for the prayers of the faithful on behalf of "justice and dignity" for imprisoned terrorists...  "no matter the reason for their detention". If you understand that, you will know what to say.

We will be sending this post out to our contacts in the world of Jewish and Israeli organizations, and asking them to (again) raise their voices. Now we ask our Christian friends, particularly those who feel connected to the churches named below, the member churches of the WCC, to consider whether the call to pray for the unrepentant killers of children is a call that speaks in their names.
Africa Inland Church Sudan | African Christian Church & Schools | African Church of the Holy Spirit | African Israel Nineveh Church | African Methodist Episcopal Church | African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church | African Protestant Church | American Baptist Churches in the USA | Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia | Anglican Church in Japan | Anglican Church of Australia | Anglican Church of Burundi | Anglican Church of Canada | Anglican Church of Kenya | Anglican Church of Korea | Anglican Church of Southern Africa | Anglican Church of Tanzania | Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of America | Armenian Apostolic Church (Holy See of Cilicia) | Armenian Apostolic Church (Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin) | Association of Baptist Churches in Rwanda | Association of Evangelical Reformed Churches of Burkina Faso | Association The Church of God | Bangladesh Baptist Church Sangha | Baptist Association of El Salvador | Baptist Convention of Haiti | Baptist Convention of Nicaragua | Baptist Union of Denmark | Baptist Union of Great Britain | Baptist Union of Hungary | Baptist Union of New Zealand | Batak Christian Community Church | Bengal-Orissa-Bihar Baptist Convention | Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church | Canadian Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) | Catholic Diocese of the Old-Catholics in Germany | China Christian Council | Christian Biblical Church | Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Canada | Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States | Christian Church of Central Sulawesi | Christian Church of Sumba | Christian Churches New Zealand | Christian Evangelical Church in Minahasa | Christian Evangelical Church of Sangihe Talaud | Christian Methodist Episcopal Church | Christian Protestant Angkola Church | Christian Protestant Church in Indonesia | Church in the Province of the West Indies | Church in Wales | Church of Bangladesh | Church of Ceylon | Church of Christ - Harris Mission (Harrist Church) | Church of Christ in Congo - Anglican Community of Congo | Church of Christ in Congo - Baptist Community of Congo | Church of Christ in Congo - Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo | Church of Christ in Congo - Evangelical Community of Congo | Church of Christ in Congo - Mennonite Community in Congo | Church of Christ in Congo - Presbyterian Community of Congo | Church of Christ in Congo - Presbyterian Community of Kinshasa | Church of Christ in Congo - Protestant Baptist Church in Africa / Episcopal Baptist Community in Africa | Church of Christ in Thailand | Church of Christ Light of the Holy Spirit | Church of Cyprus | Church of England | Church of Greece | Church of Ireland | Church of Jesus Christ in Madagascar (FJKM) | Church of Jesus Christ on Earth by His Special Envoy Simon Kimbangu | Church of Melanesia | Church of Nigeria (Anglican Communion) | Church of North India | Church of Norway | Church of Pakistan | Church of Scotland | Church of South India | Church of Sweden | Church of the Brethren | Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) | Church of the Lord (Aladura) Worldwide | Church of the Province of Central Africa | Church of the Province of Myanmar | Church of the Province of the Indian Ocean | Church of the Province of West Africa | Church of Uganda | Churches of Christ in Australia | Congregational Christian Church in American Samoa | Congregational Christian Church in Samoa | Congregational Christian Church of Niue | Congregational Christian Church of Tuvalu | Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches | Cook Islands Christian Church | Coptic Orthodox Church | Council of African Instituted Churches | Czechoslovak Hussite Church | East Java Christian Church | Ecumenical Patriarchate | EKD - Bremen Evangelical Church* | EKD - Church of Lippe* | EKD - Evangelical Church Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Oberlausitz* | EKD - Evangelical Church in Baden* | EKD - Evangelical Church in Central Germany | EKD - Evangelical Church in Hesse and Nassau* | EKD - Evangelical Church in Rhineland* | EKD - Evangelical Church in Württemberg* | EKD - Evangelical Church of Anhalt* | EKD - Evangelical Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck* | EKD - Evangelical Church of the Palatinate* | EKD - Evangelical Church of Westphalia* | EKD - Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria | EKD - Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brunswick | EKD - Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany | EKD - Evangelical Lutheran Church in Oldenburg* | EKD - Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hanover | EKD - Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saxony | EKD - Evangelical Lutheran Church of Schaumburg-Lippe | EKD - Evangelical Reformed Church in Bavaria and North-Western Germany* | Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil | Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East | Episcopal Church in the Philippines | Episcopal Church of the Sudan | Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church | Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church | Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY) | Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church | Evangelical Baptist Church in Angola | Evangelical Baptist Union of Italy | Evangelical Christian Church in Halmahera | Evangelical Christian Church in Tanah Papua | Evangelical Church in Germany | Evangelical Church in New Caledonia and the Loyalty Isles | Evangelical Church of Cameroon | Evangelical Church of Congo | Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren | Evangelical Church of Gabon | Evangelical Church of the Augsburg and Helvetic Confessions in Austria | Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland | Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Romania | Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Slovakia | Evangelical Church of the Disciples of Christ in Argentina | Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil | Evangelical Church of the River Plate | Evangelical Congregational Church in Angola | Evangelical Lutheran Church in America | Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada | Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile | Evangelical Lutheran Church in Congo (ELCCo) | Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark | Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan & the Holy Land | Evangelical Lutheran Church in Namibia | Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa | Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) | Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Republic of Namibia | Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe | Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland | Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ghana | Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland | Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia | Evangelical Lutheran Church of Papua New Guinea | Evangelical Methodist Church in Bolivia | Evangelical Methodist Church in Italy | Evangelical Methodist Church in the Philippines | Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina | Evangelical Pentecostal Mission of Angola | Evangelical Presbyterian Church in South Africa | Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Egypt Synod of the Nile | Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Iran | Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Portugal | Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Togo | Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Ghana | Evangelical Reformed Church of Angola | Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Romania | Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches | Free Pentecostal Missions Church of Chile | Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga (Methodist Church in Tonga) | Greek Evangelical Church | Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and All Africa | Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East | Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem | Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East | Hong Kong Council of the Church of Christ in China | Hungarian Reformed Church in America | Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil | Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) | Indonesian Christian Church (HKI) | International Council of Community Churches | International Evangelical Church | Jamaica Baptist Union | Javanese Christian Churches | Kalimantan Evangelical Church | Karo Batak Protestant Church | Kenya Evangelical Lutheran Church | Kiribati Protestant Church | Korean Christian Church in Japan | Korean Methodist Church | Lao Evangelical Church | Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad | Lesotho Evangelical Church | Lusitanian Church of Portugal | Lutheran Church in Hungary | Lutheran Church in Liberia | Malagasy Lutheran Church (FLM) | Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church | Maohi Protestant Church | Mar Thoma Syrian Church of Malabar | Mara Evangelical Church | Mennonite Church in Germany | Mennonite Church in the Netherlands | Methodist Church | Methodist Church Ghana | Methodist Church in Brazil | Methodist Church in Cuba | Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma | Methodist Church in India | Methodist Church in Indonesia | Methodist Church in Ireland | Methodist Church in Kenya | Methodist Church in Malaysia | Methodist Church in Singapore | Methodist Church in the Caribbean and the Americas | Methodist Church in Zimbabwe | Methodist Church Nigeria | Methodist Church of Chile | Methodist Church of Mexico | Methodist Church of New Zealand | Methodist Church of Peru | Methodist Church of Puerto Rico | Methodist Church of Samoa | Methodist Church of Southern Africa | Methodist Church of Togo | Methodist Church of Uruguay | Methodist Church Sierra Leone | Methodist Church, Sri Lanka | Methodist Church, Upper Myanmar | Moravian Church in America | Moravian Church in Jamaica | Moravian Church in Nicaragua | Moravian Church in South Africa | Moravian Church in Suriname | Moravian Church in Tanzania | Moravian Church in Western Europe | Moravian Church, Eastern West Indies Province | Myanmar Baptist Convention | National Baptist Convention of America, Inc. | National Baptist Convention USA, Inc. | National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon | Native Baptist Church of Cameroon | Nias Christian Protestant Church | Nigerian Baptist Convention | Old-Catholic Church in Austria | Old-Catholic Church in the Netherlands | Old-Catholic Church of Switzerland | Old-Catholic Mariavite Church in Poland | Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania | Orthodox Church in America | Orthodox Church in Japan | Orthodox Church in the Czech Lands and Slovakia | Orthodox Church of Finland | Pasundan Christian Church | Pentecostal Church of Chile | Pentecostal Mission Church | Philippine Independent Church | Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church | Polish Catholic Church in Poland | Polish National Catholic Church | Presbyterian Church (USA) | Presbyterian Church in Cameroon | Presbyterian Church in Canada | Presbyterian Church in Rwanda | Presbyterian Church in Taiwan | Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea | Presbyterian Church of Africa | Presbyterian Church of Aoteroa New Zealand | Presbyterian Church of Cameroon | Presbyterian Church of Colombia | Presbyterian Church of East Africa | Presbyterian Church of Ghana | Presbyterian Church of Korea | Presbyterian Church of Liberia | Presbyterian Church of Mozambique | Presbyterian Church of Nigeria | Presbyterian Church of Pakistan | Presbyterian Church of the Sudan | Presbyterian Church of Trinidad and Tobago | Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu | Presbyterian Church of Wales | Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba | Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. | Protestant Christian Batak Church | Protestant Christian Church in Bali | Protestant Church in Indonesia | Protestant Church in Sabah | Protestant Church in South-East Sulawesi | Protestant Church in the Moluccas | Protestant Church in the Netherlands | Protestant Church in Timor Lorosa'e | Protestant Church in Western Indonesia | Protestant Church of Algeria | Protestant Evangelical Church in Timor | Protestant Methodist Church of Benin | Province of the Episcopal Church in Rwanda | Reformed Christian Church in Serbia & Montenegro | Reformed Christian Church in Slovakia | Reformed Church in America | Reformed Church in Hungary | Reformed Church in Romania | Reformed Church in Zambia | Reformed Church in Zimbabwe | Reformed Church of Christ in Nigeria | Reformed Presbyterian Church of Equatorial Guinea | Religious Society of Friends: Friends General Conference | Religious Society of Friends: Friends United Meeting | Remonstrant Brotherhood | Romanian Orthodox Church | Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) | Salvadorean Lutheran Synod | Samavesam of Telugu Baptist Churches | Scottish Episcopal Church | Serbian Orthodox Church | Silesian Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession | Simalungun Protestant Christian Church | Slovak Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Serbia & Montenegro | Spanish Evangelical Church | Spanish Reformed Episcopal Church | Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East | The African Church | The Episcopal Church | Toraja Church | Union of Baptist Churches in Cameroon | Union of Protestant Churches in Alsace and Lorraine | Union of the Armenian Evangelical Churches in the Near East | Union of Welsh Independents | United Church in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands | United Church in Papua New Guinea | United Church in the Solomon Islands | United Church of Canada | United Church of Christ | United Church of Christ - Congregational in the Marshall Islands | United Church of Christ in Japan | United Church of Christ in the Philippines | United Church of Christ in Zimbabwe | United Church of Zambia | United Congregational Church of Southern Africa | United Evangelical Lutheran Church | United Evangelical Lutheran Church in India | United Free Church of Scotland | United Methodist Church | United Methodist Church of Ivory Coast | United Presbyterian Church of Brazil | United Protestant Church | United Protestant Church of Belgium | United Protestant Church of France | United Reformed Church | Uniting Church in Australia | Uniting Church in Sweden | Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa | Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa | Waldensian Church |  | * The churches marked with an asterisk are represented in the WCC through the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) but not counted as direct members. 
For additional background, please see our earlier posts:

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