The churches against Israel
Christian blood libels revived, with Israel being painted as evil, having no right to exist
A few days ago UK researchers announced that 17 skeletons belonged to Jews were found at the bottom of a medieval well in Norwich, England. The Jews were murdered in a pogrom or had been forced to commit suicide rather than submit to demands for conversion to Christianity.
The bodies date back to the 12th or 13th Centuries, at a time when Jewish people faced killings, banishment and persecution throughout all Europe. Those 17 Jews were killed because of "replacement theology," the most ancient Christian calumny arguing that because of their denial of the divinity of Christ, the Jews have forfeited God’s promises to them which have been transferred to the Church.
Some 10 centuries later, global Christian forums are reviving this theological demonology against the heirs of those 17 Jews: the Jews of the State of Israel. The World Council of Churches, an ecumenical Christian body based in Genève and boasting 590 million worshippers, just ended a four-day conference in the Greek city of Volos. Not a single word of criticism was uttered there against the Islamists who are persecuting Arabs who believe Jesus.
Lutherans arrived to Volos from the United States, Catholics and Protestants from Bethlehem and Nazareth, Orthodox Christians from Greece and Russia, lecturers from Beirut and Copts from Egypt. The conference declared the Jewish State "a sin" and "occupying power," accused Israelis of "dehumanizing" the Palestinians, theologically dismantled the "choseness" of the Jewish people and called for "resistance" as a Christian duty.
The conference denied 3,000 years of Jewish life in the land stretching between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, took sides against the very presence of Israel, likened the defensive barrier that has blocked terrorism to "apartheid," attacked Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria invoking the name of God and conceptually dismissed the Jewish state, imagining it to be a mixture - Islamic, Christian and perhaps a bit Jewish. It even legitimized terrorism when it talked about the "thousands of prisoners who languish in Israeli jails," proclaiming that "resistance to the evil of occupation is a Christian's right and duty."
In the last few months we have seen a radical and dangerous increase of attacks on Israel by the Protestant and Catholic churches. While the US is home to many Christian supporters of Israel, the groups more closely linked to global public opinion, European bureaucracy, the media industry, the United Nations and various legal forums are all violently anti-Israel and anti-Jewish. They are paving the way for a new Jewish bloodbath by the theological exclusion of Israel's Jews from the family of nations.
The patriarch of the Antioch Church, the Catholic Melkite Gregory III Laham, proclaimed that there is a "Zionist conspiracy against Islam," reviving old conspiracy theories that led to infamous pogroms. In Antwerp, once called "the Belgian Jerusalem," a highly respected and government-funded Catholic school, the College of the Sacred Heart, just hosted a "Palestine Day" replete with anti-Semitic references and activities for youngsters. One stall at the event was titled "Throw the soldiers into the sea," allowing children to throw replicas of Jewish and Israeli soldiers into two large tanks.
The most influential international Catholic peace movement, Pax Christi, just promoted a boycott of Israel's goods "in the name of love." The most hated Israeli product includes Ahava, the famous Israeli cosmetics company, whose shop in Covent Garden, London, has just been closed by the company after years of demonstrations. Strangely, Ahava body lotion tubes have been chosen as a satanic symbol of Jewish colonialism.
Today, most of the divestment campaign against Israel is driven by Christian groups such as the Dutch Interchurch Organization and the Irish Catholic group Troicaré, both funded by the EU. The United Church of Canada, a very popular and mainstream Christian denomination, just voted to boycott six companies (Caterpillar, Motorola, Ahava, Veolia, Elbit Systems and Chapters/Indigo) and South African bishop Desmond Tutu convinced the University of Johannesburg to severe all its links with Israeli fellows.
Last year the Methodist Church of Britain voted to boycott Israeli-produced goods and services from Judea and Samaria. The catholic Pax Christi is also leading the campaign glorifying Mordechai Vanunu, Israel's nuclear whistleblower who had converted to Christianity.
La Civiltà Cattolica, the Vatican magazine reviewed by the Holy See secretary of state before publication, in January opened with a shocking editorial on Palestinian refugees. Adopting the Islamist propagandist word "Nakba," just recently invoked by Arab mobs to breach Israel's borders, the paper declared that the refugees are a consequence of "ethnic cleansing" by Israel and that "the Zionists were cleverly able to exploit the Western sense of guilt for the Shoah to lay the foundations of their own state." Indeed, Ahmadinejad's rhetoric is alarmingly similar.
Israel’s relationship with the Vatican is different from Jerusalem’s relationship with Albania or Luxembourg for example, because the Catholic Church has more than one billion adherents and a global moral authority. At the Rome synod, Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros, a cleric chosen by Pope Ratzinger to draft the synod’s 44 final propositions, denied the Jewish people’s biblical right to the Promised Land. "We Christians cannot speak about the Promised Land for the Jewish people. There is no longer a chosen people", Bustros said, reviving the "replacement theology."
Edmond Farhat, a Maronite Apostolic Nuncio, who is a sort of Vatican's ambassador, described Israel’s place in the Middle East in terms of a rejected "foreign implant" that which has no specialists "capable of healing it."
Elsewhere, the current Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, named by Pope Ratzinger to represent the Catholic community in Israel and the West Bank, is sponsoring an appeal against the "Judaization of Jerusalem." Indeed, at this time, new anti-Israel policies by the most powerful Christian groups are breathing new life into Medieval doctrine that demonized Jews for hundreds of years.
The latest excavations in England suggest the Jews were thrown down the well together, head first, the kids after the parents. Five of them had a DNA sequence suggesting they were likely to be members of a single Jewish family. Some 10 centuries later, five Jews from the same Israeli family, the Fogels of Itamar, were slaughtered in their own beds. A famous Italian priest, Mario Cornioli, wrote immediately after the massacre in a subliminal justification of the killings: "What is Itamar? An illegal Israeli colony built on stolen land.”
The replacement calumny has changed its language, yet it still marks a death sentence for the Jewish people: Israelis, like Lucifer, were God's chosen but were cast out for their rebellious and evil ways, and now deserve to be obliterated from the so-called "Holy Land,” the argument goes. From Norwich to Itamar, the Jewish martyrs are an everlasting and heroic stain in this horrible, theological blood libel.
Giulio Meotti, a journalist with Il Foglio, is the author of the book A New Shoah: The Untold Story of Israel's Victims of Terrorism