To the tune of “We Three Kings” …
Palestinian martyrs we are,
Wearing bombs we travel afar.
Jews we hate, we don’t discriminate
Blowing up yonder bar
I’ve been moved to song by the news that a group of anti-Israel British Jews teamed up with a Church of England vicar to stage a Christmas carol concert with a difference: the words of the songs were replaced with lyrics critical of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. So, for example, “While Shepherds Watched” becomes:
While shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground,
Some occupying soldiers came and bulldozed all around.
You get the idea. Somehow I don’t think my little ditty would have made it on to the order of service.
The concert was organized by a group calling itself Jews For Boycotting Israeli Goods, or J-BIG for short, and held at St James’s Church in Piccadilly, central London — a church with a rich history (it was designed by Sir Christopher Wren), but which has over the years adopted an increasingly “progressive” and “radical” approach to preaching the Gospels.
In addition to various rag-tag activist groups, the carolers included the Liberal Democrat politician Baroness Tonge, who caused a storm in 2004 when she said that if she were Palestinian she would consider becoming a suicide bomber, and who’s notorious for holding forth on the power of the “Jewish lobby.” Also there was Bruce Kent, a former Catholic priest who, having failed to deliver Western Europe to the Soviet Union in the 1980s in his capacity as head of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, left the priesthood so he could devote himself more fully to political activism.
Defending the concert, Kent said: “I am fed up with sugary religion — the baby Jesus sitting in his stable and all that stuff.” Perhaps he prefers the more “in your face” religion of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, whose terrorists Israel’s “oppressive” security measures are designed to thwart, and whose fellow believers were deeply immersed in their latest act of worship in Bombay even as Kent and his companions sang mockingly about checkpoints and security barriers on the West Bank.
J-BIG itself has only a handful of members, but what they lack in numbers they make up for in enthusiasm. This year the group protested the 60th anniversary of the founding of Israel, and marked the “Nakba,” or “catastrophe” — the Palestinian commemoration of the events of 1948. In the grand tradition of useful idiocy they even boast on their Web page of having a letter to Britain’s Guardian newspaper quoted approvingly by Iran’s state news agency.
Defending J-BIG against “smears” by other Jewish groups over its coziness with a regime that denies the holocaust, funds terrorists, and has called repeatedly for the destruction of Israel, Deborah Fink, one of the founders, wrote on an online forum: “In any case, it is not clear that Ahmajinidad [sic] wants to wipe out Israel, but just wants to get rid of Zionism, which is not the same thing.”
Clearly Fink has great faith in the ability of Iranian scientists to develop a “smart” nuclear warhead that’s able to sort the Zionists from the post-Zionists, Territorialists, and non-Jewish Israelis. If you suspect she might be a little bit mad, you’re probably right: you can see a video of her in action at the blog Harry’s Place (the debate about the carol service in the comments on the post is also worth checking out).
So a mob of self-hating Jews takes over an Anglican church to ridicule Israel, with an ex-Catholic priest reading one of the lessons, and a high-profile anti-Semite in attendance; and all with the blessing of a vicar, the Rev Charles Hedley, whose “modern” view of the Christian message of love and tolerance extends to allowing carols to be debased for the amusement of fanatics. Talk about an unholy alliance.
Rev Hedley told the Jewish Chronicle: “One can sweep under the carpet what’s happening, or one can make things known and highlight the ironies and the paradoxes of it.” He also said it was important to “address the need for peace and reconciliation.”
Of course, the carol concert did none of the above — the event was simply an excuse for the permanently-adolescent activists of J-BIG and their friends to smirk at their own cleverness, and whip up some seasonal hatred of Israel. You don’t “address the need for peace and reconciliation” by focusing entirely on the alleged misdeeds of one side, while ignoring those of the other. If the Rev Hadley was really concerned about the “ironies and paradoxes” of the situation in the Holy Land this Christmas, he might, for example, want to take up the issue of Christians being persecuted by Muslims in the town where Jesus was born.
There are legitimate criticisms to be made of Israeli policy, but all those involved with this charade know that no amount of concessions by Israel will address the underlying causes of the conflict with the Palestinians. They know that when the “occupied” territories were occupied by Egypt and Jordan there were no serious calls for the creation of a Palestinian state. They know that the “plight” of the Palestinians was a cause concocted out of thin air by Arab leaders during the 1960s when they realized they were unable to defeat Israel on the battlefield.
They know that it’s not primarily about land, or access to farms, or the demarcation of borders: it’s about pathological hatred of Jews and a Jewish state. If Israel was someday reduced to a mile-square outpost in the middle of the Negev desert, Arabs and Muslims would still want to destroy it.
By refusing to acknowledge the root causes of the Middle East’s problems, and by pinning all the blame on Israel, self-loathing Jews and “progressive” Christians who have substituted activism for faith do nothing but provide encouragement to the terrorists and their state backers. And as long as those who preach hatred and violence think they can win, there will be precious little peace, heavenly or otherwise, in the land of Christ’s birth.