Losing the Holy Land

By Stuart Littlewood – London

A British man recently applied to the Church of England to have his baptism into the Christian faith cancelled. Five months, he argued, was too young to decide his religious fate. Now 56, he’s against the indoctrination of children in any religion.

In Spain, I read that the mayor of El Borge has written to the local bishop asking for his baptism to be deleted and his name removed from Church records. He too considers baptism to be a dubious practice because of the age at which it is carried out. Other Spaniards are reported to want out of the Christian faith.

Logging off from the Church has crossed my mind also, but for different reasons. For me it’s the realisation that western Christendom doesn’t really give a damn about the Holy Land and its people, and couldn’t care less that it is being stolen by Zionists who are unwilling to live there in harmony with other faiths. These violent intruders want the entire place for themselves – exclusively – and they are willing to murder, pillage, destroy, ethnically cleanse, and stoop to all manner of inhuman crimes to snatch it, in the name of worldwide Jewry.

Most people in the West, including Christians in their leafy suburbs, turn a blind eye. They are possibly ignorant, but more likely they are misinformed by those who have a twisted view of the scriptures and now swell the ranks of Zionist sympathisers while still posing as devout Christians. The hang out in groups like Christian Friends of Israel and Anglican Friends of Israel, which are part of the wider Friends of Israel network that has its stooges embedded at all levels in our political, business, religious and social fabric.

The Holy Land is at the very centre of the Christian Church’s teachings. It is Christianity’s raison d’être. The Catholic Church at least keeps a considerable presence there, serving Christian and Muslim alike, and resists as best it can Israel’s continual encroachments on its freedom. The dozen or so patriarchs and heads of Christian churches in Jerusalem also speak out strongly from time to time.

But few people in the West seem to realise how seriously Israel’s notorious ‘administrative’ controls disrupt the life and work of the Church. How many are aware that no Muslim or Palestinian Christian living outside Jerusalem is allowed to visit the Holy Places in the Old City? This goes for priests, too, although the Israeli military may, when it suits their mood, grant permits restricted to certain entry points and limiting the duration of stay. These bully-boy tactics make pastoral work a nightmare and participation at major religious occasions well-nigh impossible.

The freedom of the Church was set out in the Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel in 1993 (but never ratified by the Knesset, I’m told).  Buried deep within this document is the clause: The State of Israel recognizes the right of the Catholic Church to carry out its religious, moral, educational and charitable functions, and to have its own institutions, and to train, appoint and deploy its own personnel in the said institutions or for the said functions to these ends.

It turns out to be another worthless promise from a regime that ignores countless UN resolutions, disregards International Court of Justice rulings, is contemptuous of human rights and Geneva Conventions, yet claims to be a western-style liberal democracy sharing our values.

Last week the Israeli authorities deployed police reinforcements to prevent the Palestinians from holding cultural events in East Jerusalem to mark the city’s designation as the 2009 "capital of Arab culture". East Jerusalem, as everyone knows, is officially Palestinian territory and includes the Old City. Palestinians naturally regard it as the capital of their future state; but the Israelis – unlawfully – claim it is their "eternal and undivided capital". They intend to make their cruel grip on it permanent.

Criticise Israel in the US and you’ll lose your job. Criticise Israel in the UK and the Zionist establishment and their quasi-Christian friends hurl accusations of anti-semitism. Dare to support the victims of Israeli aggression and you’ll get banned by the Canadian government and vilified, like George Galloway.

The Israelis’ game is clearly to hinder and paralyse Christianity in the Holy Land. It is a process that has been going on for a very long time. When Palestine was under British mandate, Christians accounted for 20 per cent of the population. Sixty-one years of hostilities, dispossession, interference and economic ruination have whittled their numbers down to less than 2 per cent. At this rate there will soon be no Christians left in the land where Christianity was born.

And what is the head of our Anglican Church doing? Last November, while Israel was meticulously planning its blitzkrieg against Gaza’s civilians (including the Christian community) and their democratically elected government, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, joined the Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, in a visit to the former Nazi camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland to demonstrate their joint solidarity against the extremes of hostility and genocide. 

"This is a pilgrimage not to a holy place but to a place of utter profanity – a place where the name of God was profaned because the image of God in human beings was abused and disfigured," said the Archbishop. "How shall we be able to read the signs of the times, the indications that evil is gathering force once again and societies are slipping towards the same collective corruption and moral sickness that made the Shoah possible?”

The signs are there to plainly see, Dr. Williams. Evil has indeed gathered its forces again and, as you surely noticed, certain societies have already slipped into the moral cesspit. Look no further than the hell-hole that the Holy Land has been turned into by the Israeli occupation.

So when can we expect a pilgrimage by the Archbishop and the Chief Rabbi to sniff the stench of profanity in the Gaza Strip? And what do they have to say about the relentless theft and judaisation of Jerusalem, I wonder?

Back in the days of the Crusades the Archbishops of Canterbury included Christian men of action like Baldwin and Hubert Walter, who donned armour and took up their sword to fight the good fight (as they saw it) for their belief in the Holy City and what it stood for. Times are different now, but unless the Western Church shows firmer leadership and more grit it will lose the Holy Land and more of its followers will renounce their baptism.

– Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

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