What Motivates the Methodist Church’s Attacks on Israel?

Sept. 22 2016

An exhibition currently at the Hinde Street Methodist Church in London is meant to replicate Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank. Tom Wilson, who was raised a Methodist, wonders why the church chooses to focus its attention on the Jewish state:

There is something deeply disturbing about people who are more troubled by the security put in place to prevent terrorism than they are by the terrorism itself.

It’s all the more disturbing that Hinde Street Methodists appear to have singled out Israeli Jews as being uniquely undeserving of being protected from terrorism. The church’s website may feature a declaration about opposing discrimination, but where the welfare of Israelis is concerned, it seems the church does discriminate. There is no shortage of conflict zones around the world where barriers and checkpoints have been set up. . . . Might [any of these] not be a subject of interest if the Methodists of Hinde Street have genuine humanitarian concerns?

But what if this has nothing to do with humanitarian concerns at all? What if this is about something far uglier within the Methodist movement? . . .

In 2010 the Methodists singled out Israel for boycott action. . . . Reverend Nicola Jones, who proposed the motion, supported her call for boycotts by dabbling in a discussion about Jewish chosenness (never a good sign) before going on to promote the supersessionist idea of a “new covenant.” She then completed her speech by remarking that “God is not a racist God, with favorites.” The implication was clear. The Jews and their religion are racist, with belief in a racist God, and as such they should be punished with boycotts. It was the age-old basis for the worst form of Christian anti-Semitism being revisited.

There is no getting away from the fact that John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was an outspoken anti-Semite. . . . During the German occupation of the Channel Islands, a local Methodist minister called John Leale collaborated enthusiastically with the Nazis by disclosing the names of the Islands’ Jewish residents. Given that history, you might have thought the Methodists would show a little more humility on the subject. Instead, one of the members of clergy speaking at the 2010 conference accused Jews of using the Holocaust as a “Zionist tool.”

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Jerusalem’s Economic Crisis, Its Arabs, and Its Future

Oct. 18 2018

The population of Israel’s capital city is 38-percent Arab, making Arab eastern Jerusalem the largest Arab community in the country. Connected to this fact is Jerusalem’s 46-percent poverty rate—the highest of any Israeli municipality. The city’s economic condition stems in part from its large ultra-Orthodox population, but there is also rampant poverty among its Arab residents, whose legal status is different from that of both Arab Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. Haviv Rettig Gur explains:

Jerusalem’s Arab inhabitants are not Israeli citizens—in part because Palestinian society views acceptance of Israeli citizenship, [available to any Arab Jerusalemite who desires it], as acceptance of Israeli claims of sovereignty over the city, and in part because Israel is not eager to accept them, even as it formally views itself as having annexed the area. Nevertheless, they have a form of permanent residency that, unlike West Bank Palestinians, allows them unimpeded access to the rest of Israel. . . .

There are good reasons for this poverty among eastern Jerusalem’s Arabs, rooted in the political trap that has ensnared the Arab half of the city and with it the rest of the city as well. Right-wing Israeli political leaders have avoided investing in Arab eastern Jerusalem, fearing that such investments would increase the flow of Palestinians into the city. Left-wing leaders have done the same on the grounds that the Arab half would be given away in a future peace deal.

Meanwhile, eastern Jerusalem’s complicated situation, suspended between the Israeli and Palestinian worlds, means residents cannot take full advantage of their access to the Israeli economy. For example, while most Arab women elsewhere in Israel learn usable Hebrew in school, most Arab schools in eastern Jerusalem teach from the Palestinian curriculum, which does not offer students the Hebrew they will need to find work in the western half of the city. . . .

It is not unreasonable to argue that Jerusalem cannot really be divided, not for political reasons but for economic ones. If Jerusalem remains a solely Israeli capital, it will have to integrate better its disparate parts and massively develop its weaker communities if it hopes ever to become solvent and prosperous. Arabs must be able to find more and better work in Jewish Jerusalem—and in Arab Jerusalem, too. Conversely, if the city is divided into two capitals, that of a Jewish state and that of a Palestinian one, that won’t change the underlying economic reality that its prosperity, its capacity to accommodate tourism and develop efficient infrastructure, and its ability to ensure access for all religions to their many holy sites, will still require a unified urban space.

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