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Christian-Jewish Solidarity

I have great pleasure bringing you an open letter to the South African Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane written by the “Africa for Israel Christian Coalition“. Without theatrics, it declares in clear and straightforward words the unequivocal support for the State of Israel from a significant section of the African Christian community. For this we are deeply grateful.

Israel, like South Africa, faces the challenge of ethnic communities divided by conflict and differing histories and perspectives. But unlike South Africa it has been the target of relentless hostility from its neighbours and a less than sympathetic Western media. Both countries could learn from one another. I have no doubt that South Africa could play a productive role in bringing Palestinians and Israelis closer to a mutual accommodation. But that would require a stance of neutrality and a desire to understand the histories, motivations and concerns of Israelis as well as the Palestinians.

Unfortunately they have adopted a one-sided partisanship which will serve neither South Africa nor the antagonists in the Middle East well . The unambiguous support for Israel demonstrated by the Africa for Israel Christian Coalition will I hope convey to our Government, that a substantial segment of their community does not share their position. Here is the letter:

Minister, it is becoming very clear that the International Relations Department’s position towards the
Israeli/Palestinian conflict does not in fact represent the view of the majority 80% Christian
population of South Africa. We have witnessed, with growing alarm, the systematic and deliberate
escalation of anti-Israel rhetoric from your department particularly since the beginning of 2012. This
was done with the apparent hope that the gradual shift would go undetected by the South African
public. It has not. Christian support for Israel in South Africa is represented by a fast growing body
of believers but it would appear that your department’s foreign policy position is reflective of a
select few, lacking in balance and inherently anti-Semitic.

With regards to your comments concerning the map of West Bank, referred to in Biblical terms as
Judea and Samaria, you may wish to consider that: No other nation has ever been forced to accept
or would ever accept the arbitrary carving up of their ancestral land in the manner the Jewish
people have been subjected to. It is a historical fact that the Jewish people were dispossessed of
their ancestral land by the Roman Empire. Even if you are not a Christian or find the Bible an
inconvenient reference point, there is ample proof of Jewish title to the Holy Land in various
authoritative historical and archaeological sources. Democratic South Africa enacted the Restitution
of Land Rights Act of 1994 to redress the dispossession of indigenous people yet, ironically,
alleviating a similar plight of the Jewish people is termed apartheid.

What is particularly worrying, Minister, is that both Fatah and Hamas do not seem to share your
preferred two-state solution to their conflict:

– On November 9, 2013 Palestinian Authority TV showed Fatah Central Committee member Jamal
Muhaisen delivering a speech on behalf of President Mahmoud Abbas saying “All our holy places
are still under occupation, and so far we have not liberated one inch of Palestinian land. All
Palestinian land is occupied – Gaza is occupied, the West Bank is occupied, the 1948 lands (i.e.
Israel) are occupied and Jerusalem is occupied.”

– In December 2012, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal made a very clear public address where he
declared that “Palestine from the river (Jordan) to the sea (Mediterranean), from the north to the
south (all Israel), is our land and we will never give up one inch or any part of it”. He went on to say
“Palestine was, still is and will always be Arab and Islamic” and that “Palestine belongs to us and to
no one else. We can never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Palestine
belongs to us, and not to the Zionists.” He further stated that a real state will be the product of
liberation and not negotiation! This position is consistent with the Hamas Charter which precludes
even negotiating with Israel.

The emerging official position and statements of both Palestinian parties have many aspects that
are provocative towards the majority of South African Christians:

– They constitute an insult to our faith – The new Hamas textbooks characterize the Torah
(Genesis to Deuteronomy) as a mere fabrication;

– They include falsification of history – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said: They (Israelis)
claim that 2000 years ago they had a temple. I challenge the assertion that this is so, that there has
ever been a Jewish Temple.”

– They include blaspheming against the Christian faith – The Palestinian Authority Daily declared in
November 2012 that: “Jesus is a Palestinian; the self-sacrificing Yasser Arafat is a Palestinian;
Mahmoud Abbas, the messenger of peace on earth, is a Palestinian. How great is this nation of the
holy Trinity!”

– Worse still – A young girl appeared on Palestinian Authority TV on July 3, 2013 reciting a poem
which included these words: “Oh Sons of Zion, oh most evil among creations. Oh barbaric monkeys,
wretched pigs.”

– Finally, Hamas TV often plays songs praying for the extermination of Christians and Jews or
inciting for the conquering of other nations in an apparent attempt to save: “humanity from the Fire
(of Hell), of which they are on the brink.”

Our silence thus far should not be construed as acquiescing to this vilification of Israel. Certain civil
society groups have predictably pounced at this opportunity and in an effort of creating some
semblance of credibility to this process, have involved certain segments of the Church who
represent the outdated understanding that the Church has replaced Israel in the promises of God
or have introduced a Gospel that describes Jesus and his early followers as “Palestinians” and not
Jews as recorded in Scripture. These double substitutions are not mainstream and in fact offensive
to most Christians. They also undermine the very concept that God is a covenant-keeping God.

Our fate as Christians and Jews is intertwined. We share a love of the same God and an
unwavering faith in the Holy Scriptures. Thus we simply cannot and will not abandon our Jewish
brothers and sisters no matter what the cost.

Therefore, motivated by our faith and love for Africa, intent on making our strong feelings known on
this issue, we have joined hands as Christians across Africa and launched a Christian Coalition with
the primary purpose of declaring our support for Israel and ensuring that there is a balanced
perspective of this narrative in our African countries. Our bond of unity in faith transcends colour,
denomination and national boundaries in Africa.”

Kol Hakavod to the  Africa for Israel Christian Coalition!

Mike Berger


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