The Israeli mother of one of the 15 murdered victims who died in the infamous Jerusalem Sbarro 2001 restaurant bombing is denouncing former longtime Christian Century editor James Wall for defending her daughter’s Palestinian murderer.
“What kind of Christian values inform the opinions of a man who cannot bring himself to condemn the murders of fifteen innocents?” the mother asked in her recent blog. “What theological insight brings a man with Wall’s prominence, intelligence, standing in the community, to look right past the overwhelming, explicit pride of a killer who says ‘I did well. I will do it again. And so should you?’”
Here’s the mother’s blog.
Ahlam Tamimi disguised herself as a Jewish tourist and escorted a Palestinian suicide bomber to a crowded restaurant. Seven of the killed were children. One hundred thirty were wounded. When informed of the deaths afterward, Tamimi exclaimed: “Allah be praised.”
Tamimi was released from her life sentence by Israel last year along with hundreds of other prisoners in exchange for one captive Israeli soldier. She was greeted in Jordan as a hero. At the time, Wall rhapsodized about her marriage to another terrorist. He also minimized her mass murder.
“Their ‘crimes,’ for which a military occupying power had served as jury and judge, were identified and punished according to a military court in a system operated by an illegal occupation,” Wall wrote. “Israeli sees the prisoners as threats to the security of the State of Israel. The Palestinians who were sent to jail, on the other hand, saw themselves as resisting an occupying army, taking actions they believed appropriate to deal with that occupation.”
During his 1972-1999 time as editor and publisher of Christian Century, Wall presided over the decline of the once flagship journal of Mainline Protestantism. The magazine was rescued by Wall’s more moderate successor.
Since leaving, Wall has become increasingly histrionic about Israel. An ordained United Methodist, in the 1960s he edited the one-time Methodist journal The Christian Advocate. In that position, although himself theologically liberal, he commissioned and published in 1966 an article called “Methodism’s Silent Minority” regarding Methodist evangelicals. The overwhelming response prompted author Charles Keyser to found Good News, the senior evangelical renewal group.