Latest posts on Christian Aid

Why 'Christian Hate?'? An introduction to the blog

Places Christians shouldn't go A quick tour of Christian Hate?'s case against Christian Aid

Christians and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict Read all my posts on this topic

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Dear Angela

President Ahmadinejad has written to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, thoughtfully offering her solidarity in the struggle to liberate Germany from the tyranny of the you-know-who's. Harry's Place has highlights and an appropriate link.

Making a wilderness and calling it victory

Alan Johnson of the BBC surveys the fate of the former Israeli settlements in Gaza. It's a sorry tale and of course, Alan Johnson of the BBC being Alan Johnson of the BBC, it's largely the Israelis' fault. If only they'd stop overreacting to those 'crudely-made' rockets that only 'rarely' kill anybody... They should realize that it's their responsibility to fix it so that the Palestinians can play with rockets to their hearts' content and have a viable economy.

Reading the article, it dawned on me that there was something missing. If land which was illegally occupied has been vacated, what would you expect to happen to it? Surely it should be restored to its rightful owners. But it seems that's not on the agenda at all. Why not? Could it possibly be that before the settlers came this land was so unproductive that nobody ever thought of staking a claim to it?

Can the BBC settle this point, on which I am genuinely in ignorance? The evidence on offer is circumstantial at best, and I strongly suspect that that is in itself a clue to the answer. Here's a settler speaking last August:-

'"When we got to Gush Katif in the 1970s, there was nothing; just sand dunes 15 metres high," he says.

'"It was desert all around, with a smattering of Bedouins who worked with us. We didn't occupy anything. We developed these farmlands. From the sand, we created a paradise."'

(the article from which this comes is an eye-opener on the PA's determination to cut its nose off to spite its face: some settlers were willing to sell their farms as going concerns, but the PA were refusing to pay even if someone else gave them the cash)

On the other hand, a PA employee who, also last August, wrote a diary for the BBC website (balance, you see), had this to say:-

'Now we are looking to what happens afterwards. Once military control has ended there will be a special court appointed by the Palestinian authorities.

'It will ask people who owned land near or inside the settlements to prove their ownership with papers, then they will get it back.'

So how's the special court coming along a year later? Our correspondent Alan Johnson is on the line from Gaza. Over to you, Alan...

Maybe there is a parallel universe in which the settlers were invited to stay on and help kickstart the Gazan economy. Having consented, they are buying goods and services from Palestinian businesses and paying taxes to the Palestinian authorities. Meanwhile the rockets have stopped in reciprocation for the Israeli withdrawal, and exports flow freely across Gaza's borders.

In our universe, of course, the settlers had to go - not because they were thieves, but because they were Jews in a place where all political factions agree that no Jews are wanted. Something to bear in mind next time you hear that Israel is a racist apartheid state.

Or to put it another way: what do you call someone who doesn't want any Arabs living next door? A racist. What do you call an Arab who doesn't want any Jews living next door? An anti-imperialist resistance fighter. They're a laugh a minute, the anti-Zionist left.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Christians: Israel didn't finish the job

An Australian newspaper report offers a corrective to the claim (often made, one suspects, by people who really want it to be true) that the Israelis have succeeded in turning everyone in Lebanon into Hezbollah supporters. (via Stephen Pollard)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Underlying causes

Back at Christian Aid, meanwhile, head of propaganda - sorry, 'advocacy officer' - William Bell congratulates himself that 'We have impressed upon government ministers the importance of dealing with the underlying causes of conflict and poverty in the region'. These comprising:-

1. the continued Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories

2. corruption within the Palestinian Authority

3. the existential threat to Israel from terrorist organizations with racist ideologies.

Only kidding. I made up no. 3. It really has become very difficult to find anything in CA 'advocacy' to which Hamas could object. I can only hope Tony Blair's chat with Dr Mukarji was a little more enlightening - if not, the PM must have wondered why he bothered.

To reprise a point I've made before, when Mr Bell does his twisting of elected politicians' arms, he does so on behalf of an organization subsidized by the UK taxpayer to the tune of over £8 million a year (source).

The Mufti and the crossing of the line

Harry's Place has a clip from German TV showing the Mufti of Jerusalem being welcomed by Hitler and reviewing SS troops.

Here's one of the comments on the post, signed 'SueC':-

'Gene, is it not possible that Arab antipathy towards Jews in Palestine both before and during WW2 had something to do with the purchase of land by the Jewish National Fund from absentee Arab landowners and the disposession of Arab tenant farmers? You constantly seek to represent such anti-Jewish feeling as solely attributable to inherent Arab anti-semitism (please, would all posters spare me the relevant quotations from the Koran and Hadith, I know them already) but is it not at least possible that it was grounded in simple economics? Before the zionist movement got going, Arab and Jew in Palestine seemed to rub along reasonably aimicably; once it became clear, however, that an increasing number of Jews in Palestine meant Arabs were losing their land, then anti-Jewish sentiments grew.'

This takes the outlook of the 'anti-Zionist' left so far into the realm of self-parody that one might question whether SueC is for real. I fear, however, that she is both real and all too representative in her inability to draw the most fumdamental of moral distinctions: that between shit and genocide.

Shit is the thing that proverbially happens (translation for the pious: we are sinners living in a fallen world). It has unquestionably happened to the Palestinans, as it has happened to many peoples at many times throughout history. For instance, the Germans in 1918 and after.

Your landlord sells out to people who want to farm the land themselves? Bad luck! But maybe you can get one of the new jobs which are being created in the booming local economy (booming at least partly due to the influx of Jewish immigrants).

Whereas genocide is the thing that, above all other things, simply must not happen. She who makes shit an excuse for supporting genocide - whether those excused are German or Palestinian - crosses the line beyond which all moral judgments dissolve into emotionalism and relativism.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Multiculturalism and the alienation of young Muslims

'Finally, there are the grievances. Some of these are genuine enough, but the complaint often boils down to the position that it is always right to intervene where Muslims are victims (as in Bosnia or Kosovo), and always wrong when they may be the oppressors or terrorists (as with the Taliban or in Iraq), even when their victims are also mainly Muslims.

'Given the world view that has given rise to such grievances, there can never be sufficient appeasement, and new demands will continue to be made.'

- Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, who as a convert from Islam knoweth whereof he speaketh, argues that multiculturalist policies have unwittingly encouraged Islamic radicalism in Britain. He concludes:-

'Values, however, are not free-standing; they are deeply rooted in a vision of society. Whether we like it or not, characteristic British values arise out of the Christian faith and its vision of personal and common good. These were clarified by the Enlightenment and became the bed-rock of our modern political arrangements. The Enlightenment, however, by consigning Christianity to the private sphere, also removed the basis and justification for these values in the public sphere.

'It is this basis and justification that needs to be recovered if our values are to be secure, and if they are to help inculcate the virtues of generosity, loyalty, moderation and love that lead to personal fulfilment and social wellbeing.'

It's worth reading it all.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Meet the Christian conspiracy theorists

In the churches as in the secular world, it's a busy time at the liberal-moonbat interface...

A book recently published in America accuses the Bush administration of engineering 9/11. Nothing very unusual about that - it's the Land of the Free, after all - but it is perhaps slightly surprising that the publisher is an agency of the Presbyterian Church (USA) . Only slightly surprising, because this is, after all, the church in which the Trinity may now be addressed as 'the Mother, the Child and the Womb'. Scratch a Goddess-worshipping tree-hugger and you'll find a jihadi-hugger as often as not - a phenomenon dissected by Sarah Baxter in a deservedly much-linked-to piece in last weekend's Sunday Times.

Somehow there are never any hugs to spare for the Israelis, though...

'Israel's assault on Lebanon was planned even before Hizbullah attacked and was aimed at driving a wedge between the different faiths that have been living in harmony in the country, a delegation from the World Council of Churches said on their return from a visit to Beirut and Jerusalem.' (from via)

Planned as in 'Britain and France had been planning for years to wage war against Germany, and they just needed the invasion of Poland to give them a pretext'.

More on Israel's diabolical war aims from Jean-Arnold de Clermont, president of the Conference of European Churches:

'De Clermont, who spoke for the two other delegation members who joined him at a news conference in the world council's headquarters, said Israel would not want the existence of a democratic Lebanon where Jews, Christians and Muslims were peacefully living side by side, because it does not want to see its neighbor state succeeding in what Israel is unsuccessfully trying to achieve.

'De Clermont said Hizbullah was a scapegoat.'

So now we know who the innocent victims are too. Jews, Christians and Muslims living side by side: hmmm, isn't it just a little late for that? Did M de Clermont meet a lot of Jews while he was in Beirut?

Friday, August 18, 2006

Al-Grauniad reader reality check

Tony Blair may have criminally made Britain a target for terrorism by refusing to bring the troops home and hand Iraq over to the insurgents, but I'm all right, Jack. I'm sitting pretty here in Germany. Right?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Angry and alive

'A surprising number of British people - especially the super-creepy British Jews who recently signed a treacherous letter to the press distancing themselves from Israel's actions - seem to think Israel should exist not as a real, imperfect country full of real, imperfect people led by real, imperfect leaders, but as some sort of collective kosher Mater Dolorosa, there to provide a selfless, suffering example to the rest of us.


'Personally, I'd far prefer the Jews to be angry, aggressive and alive than meek, mild and dead - and that's what makes me and a minority like me feel so much like strangers in our own country, now more than ever. I've always loved being a hack, but now even that feels weird, as though I'm living among a bunch of snatched-body zombies who look like journalists but believe and say the most inhuman, evil things.'

- Julie Burchill writing for Haaretz - read it all (via)

Auntie explains

'Since the start of the current violence in Lebanon, the United States' position has remained consistent: it is only sensible to have an Israeli ceasefire when it can be a sustainable one.

'In other words, when Hezbollah has been sufficiently weakened to no longer pose a threat.

'That is a view that has been at odds with many European nations, who have argued for an immediate Israeli ceasefire.

'The reasons for that difference in emphasis are complex but many people point to the power of the Israel lobby in the United States as a key factor.'

- a perfect encapsulation of the BBC mindset (no, I won't use the 'b' word) from a piece by the Nick Miles on Friday.

For a start, it's mildly amusing that this appeared a matter of hours before John Bolton joined the rest of the Security Council in voting for, er, a ceasefire resolution - in a situation where Hezbollah had not exactly ceased to pose a threat.

The last sentence sets the tone for the rest of the article. Note Mr Miles' evasive 'many people point ...', not explicitly associating himself with the many people but not actually distancing himself from them either. It is a fact that a significant subset of the many people go further and point to this as evidence for the authenticity of the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, but naturally it is not the impartial Beeb's job to pass judgment on such views.

What I find most revealing is that, having established the difference between American and European attitudes, Mr Miles makes the reflex assumption that what stands in need of an explanation is America's bizarre, irrational and inhuman support for Israel. And the rest of the article then provides that explanation, focussing, surprise, surprise, on (Jewish) ethnic egotism and (evangelical) religious fanaticism.

Some people - perhaps even many people - might be wondering why, when a pro-Western democracy fights back against aggression from a fundamentalist and racist terrorist organization committed to wiping it off the map, so many Europeans react with outrage rather than solidarity. But no explanation is on offer from Mr Miles. Evidently such people are not his, or the Beeb's, kind of many people.

Fisking Fisk

Sorry about the light posting, I have no more credible excuse than writer's block pure and simple. I've got about fifty posts buzzing around in my head, but the little buggers just won't come out.

Fortunately others are showing unimpaired creativity. Here, for instance is Scott of the Ablution fisking the increasingly deranged Fisk (I use the word 'increasingly' advisedly, extraordinary though it may seem):-

'So now we know. In the extremely unlikely event that the terror plot ("Terror what, I asked myself?") is real, the motive lies with the "violent problems and injustice and suffering" in Pakistan, Britain and the Caribbean, and not in the least with any religious basis. And all of us - especially the Metropolitan Police, who are busily dealing death there instead of arresting Israeli generals as they should be doing - are to blame. For Robert Fisk tells us so.'

Read it all - magnificent stuff.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Three letters to the Guardian

'All democratically elected governments have both the right and the obligation to defend its citizens. At least one-third of Israel's citizens have lived in bomb shelters for more than three weeks and face the threat of indiscriminate rocket attack from Hizbullah. Many Israelis have died as a result of these attacks.

'Actions that may be justifiable, may not always be wise. We ask the government of Israel and the IDF to ensure that, in pursuit of the right to defend Israelis, the loss of innocent lives is truly kept to a minimum so there will be no repetition of the Qana disaster.

'We also urge the application of as much fervour and intensity to finding a diplomatic solution to the Lebanese crisis, if not even more so, as is being applied in the pursuit of a military one.'

- from Peace Now-UK's letter to the Guardian. Spot on. Compare and contrast with the preceding letter, with its revoltingly hypocritical victim pornography. Recall that the writers apparently had no problem with 'We are Hizbollah' placards being waved on the 'peace' march which they organized. 'We are Hizbollah' = 'We like to murder Jewish children'. It's not only Jews who agree with the writer of the third letter who are 'clear and very angry'.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Brief Lives

'In the early years of the war she joined the National Socialist Party, according to Alan Jefferson’s punctilious but at times contentious biography of her. It caused a considerable stir when it was published in 1996 and certainly did not please its subject. Schwarzkopf appeared in a handful of propaganda films under Goebbels’ banner and sang too in a single performance of Die Fledermaus in Paris in 1941 put on for the benefit of the German occupying forces.

'These moves were purely pragmatic. Schwarzkopf was determined to get to the top and was not inclined to go looking for obstacles.


'During 1946 Schwarzkopf, in common with other prominent musicians including Furtwängler and Karajan, came under the scrutiny of the Allied Denazification Bureau.'

- from the Times' obituary of Dame Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. Not exactly a flattering picture. But what does the Grauniad say?

'At this time [1942], the singer reportedly had connections with the Nazis, revealed in a controversial biography that appeared in 1996. The revelations, denied by her, caused a considerable stir. The truth is that as an attractive and impressionable young singer, she inevitably sought favour with the powers that be. The political affiliation probably went no further than that. At war's end she was active in Vienna, apparently with no stain on her character.'

So that's all right, then. It was inevitable. What else was an impressionable 26-year-old girl to do?

And the battling Independent, ever the scourge of oppression and hypocrisy?

'She made her début in 1938 at the Berlin Städtische Oper as a Flower Maiden in Parsifal and then sang coloratura roles such as Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, Adele in Die Fledermaus, Musetta in La Bohème and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos. When she moved to the Vienna State Opera in 1942, it was as Zerbinetta that she made her Viennese début.

'For a while she continued in the coloratura repertory, with Rosina in Il barbiere di Siviolia and Constanze in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail among her most successful parts; by 1947, when she first appeared at the Salzburg Festival, as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, she had become a lyric soprano.'

On the other hand, here's the Telegraph making the Thunderer look timid:-

'After the war she made her Covent Garden debut as Donna Elvira in 1947. She was lucky to be allowed to perform in Britain at all, for her involvement with the Nazi party had been at least as intimate as those of Karajan and Furtwängler. Its full extent was revealed in Jefferson's controversial 1996 biography, which made extensive use of the 200-page file on Schwarzkopf kept by the Nazis. From this it appears that she applied to join the party in 1938 and quickly attracted the attention of Goebbels; she also acted, sang and played the piano in propaganda films. When she was questioned by Allied authorities in Austria about her party membership, she produced a succession of lies and half-truths. These were swiftly uncovered, and Jefferson finds it strange that someone as intelligent as Schwarzkopf should have resorted to such "clumsy methods of fudging her past". He speculates that she was attempting to hide more than NSDAP membership: there were rumours that she was the lover of a senior Nazi.'

So there you have it. If you want a paper that calls a Nazi a Nazi and doesn't make excuses for her, the order of preference is not quite what you might have expected. But perhaps it shouldn't be altogether surprising that the papers which do best are those least likely to be found making excuses for Ahmadinejad the Holocaust-denier and his sidekicks.

Some massacres you may have missed

'Seventeen civilians who had taken shelter in a school died on Thursday after it was hit by shells.'

- mentioned in passing half way down a BBC report. Why so reticent? Because it happened in Sri Lanka.

'The army and the Tigers have blamed each other for the incident.'

Whoever it was, I suspect they may not have given a warning first. But who gives a monkey's, anyway? There's not much chance of blaming this one on the Israelis.

Oh yes, and then there's the Taliban. When they kill kids it's rarely accidental. But you can't be too fussy when you're resisting imperialism, can you?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Christian Aid and its strange bedfellows

Writing my last post, I had 31 July and 1 August in my head, and what came out was 31 August. One of those early warning signs of approaching senility, I expect. So anyway, normal service is resumed earlier than advertised.

I must say that I return to my topic with a heavy heart. Irrespective of the rights and wrongs, the death and destruction on both sides of the Israel-Lebanon border is appalling (as, of course, it is in other conflicts of infinitely less interest to the media). There's fine writing at the usual locations on my blogroll: notably from Norman Geras, Harry's Place, Mick Hartley, Melanie Phillips and Stephen Pollard. Shuggy supports the charge that Israel's actions are disproportionate without giving any quarter to the Hezbollah apologists. Even if I don't wholly agree with him, it's a lucid and brave post. Engage, meanwhile, is keeping tabs on the global anti-Semitic backlash.

So there's plenty to read without my adding my contribution. A longer and more philosophical post is in the pipeline. For now, a word on Christian Aid.

CA have joined forces with other NGOs to demand an immediate ceasefire, i.e. for Hezbollah to hang on to both its illegally acquired hostages and its illegal apparatus of terror. That's not just my interpretation. An open letter to Tony Blair makes rather explicit the concern that Hezbollah should not lose the war it started:-

'The present policy looks in danger of placing the UK Government in the uncomfortable position of only calling for a ceasefire once one side in the conflict has achieved its military objectives.'

I don't imagine that it looks particularly uncomfortable viewed from Haifa.

It's curious that a 'call for an immediate ceasfire by all warring parties in the Middle East' makes no mention of Iraq - part of the Middle East, if my atlas is to be believed - where, of course, the insurgents have deliberately murdered not hundreds but many thousands of innocent civilians (and, yes, some of the occupying forces have done their bit too). Is the prospect of the insurgency being forestalled in achieving its military objectives perhaps rather less comforting than is the case where Israel is concerned?

CA's co-signatories include War On Want, once headed by George Galloway and still apparently dancing as much to the gorgeous one's political tune as their charitable status will allow (matches on 'Darfur' on WOW website: 1; matches on 'Palestine': 148). Also, remarkably, the Muslim Council of Britain. This 'moderate' outfit's equivocal (to put it kindly) line on terrorist attacks on Israel is by now notorious. Their website is currently headlining a statement by Salma Yaqoob who, when not busy on the MCB's Central Working Committee, is a leading light in Respect and thus committed to uncritical support for the Hezbollah 'resistance'. She is, I believe, tipped to succeed Respect's current leader (yes, him again), who has gone a step or two beyond uncritical:-

'I glorify the Hizbollah national resistance movement, and I glorify the leader of Hizbollah, Sheikh Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah'

Can you imagine CA issuing a joint statement with a Jewish organization which had comparably extreme connections?

One other thought. Responding to a call from the Pope, the monks whose hospitality I was enjoying prayed for peace in the Middle East every day last week - and rightly so. They did not (at least not when I was around) pray for peace in Darfur, Kashmir, Chechnya, Sri Lanka or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I'm not for one moment suggesting any form of bad faith or prejudice on their part. The point is the media's power to shape our perception of reality, from which even their, dare I say cloistered, world is not exempt. Is Lebanon far and away the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today? Of course - for every reporter or cameraman in Darfur there are dozens, probably hundreds, covering Lebanon. I am on TV, therefore I am... As Hezbollah understand very well.