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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The U.S. Must Maintain the Kurdish Enclave in Eastern Syria

Aug. 16 2018

Presently only two rebel enclaves remain in Syria, and both are dependent on outside powers: one in the northwest, under Turkish control, and an area in the east controlled by the U.S.-backed and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Only by continuing its support for the latter can America prevent Iranian domination of Syria, writes Jonathan Spyer. Officials in Washington have made various statements suggesting that the White House has no intention of ceding the country to Iran, but haven’t clarified what this means in practice:

Actions . . . are a better guide than sentiments. And it appears that the SDF leaders remain skeptical regarding America’s long-term plans. Last week, the first direct negotiations took place between their representatives and those of the Assad regime, in Damascus.

It is not quite clear where things are heading. But Israel’s interest in this is clear. Maintenance of the east Syrian enclave and the [U.S.] base in Tanf means keeping a substantial physical obstacle to the Iranian hope for a contiguous corridor [connecting it to Lebanon via Syria and Iraq]. It would also prevent an overall Iranian triumph in the war and give the West a place at the table in any substantive political negotiation over Syria’s future. . . .

Specifically, efforts should be made to ensure a formal U.S. declaration of a no-fly zone for regime and regime-allied aircraft east of the Euphrates. This move, reminiscent of the no-fly zone declared over Iraqi Kurdistan after the Gulf War of 1991, would with one stroke ensure the continued viability of the SDF-controlled area. There should also be a formal recognition of the SDF zone, or the “Democratic Federation of Northern Syria,” as it is formally known. This entity is not seeking independence from Damascus, so Western concerns regarding the formal breakup of Syria need not be raised by such a move.

As the strategic contest between Iran and its allies and the U.S. and its allies in the Middle East moves into high gear, it is essential that the West maintain its alliances and investments and behaves, and is seen to behave, as a credible and loyal patron and ally.

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More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Kurds, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy