Last evening Evangelicals for Social Action hosted Palestinian Bishop Elias Chacour at their “Impact Holy Land” conference. Chacour is a popular speaker at U.S. church events that are critical of Israel and supportive of Palestinian nationalism.
A Jewish leader and friend who closely follows church stances towards Israel offers this commentary about Chacour:
Elias Chacour loves, loves Jews. He says so over and over again in his book Blood Brothers. He says it so often, one might be tempted to believe it. One wants to believe it. This approach, seemingly so kindly and so right, may well prove to be more destructive than the blatant hatred exhibited by terrorist groups like Hamas. Chacour writes well and uses inherently attractive words like “love,” “peace,” and “tolerance” a whole lot- which have won over the hearts and minds of many good people in the West. But, alas, he is manipulative. He knows something Hamas doesn’t understand: that blatant hatred won’t fly in the West. It has to be dressed up to look nice and loving.
Chacour grew up in Palestine in the 1940’s. His parents told him that there was a wicked man in German named Hitler who wanted to kill all the Jews. The Jews, he was told, would come to live in Palestine and Palestinians should welcome them – they are, after all, blood brothers. So the Chacour family welcomed the Jews because, you see, they have nothing against Jews, whom the love, love. But among the Jews, little Elias learns, there are bad people called Zionists. Chacour doesn’t love, love the mean, mean Zionists, he only loves, loves Jews.
Only he omits one inconvenient fact. The people who brought the Jews to Palestine were Zionists. And the overwhelming majority of the Jews who came to Palestine are also – gasp – Zionists. No, not all Jews are Zionists—just practically all Jews. (That is like saying one loves Americans, just not those who believe in democracy.)
He reconstructs- “verbatim”-conversations he had with playmates over six decades ago. In these conversations, his friends all call themselves “Palestinians.” Although Palestinian Arabs didn’t call themselves that back then (there were also, after all, Palestinian Jews), his uncanny memory has him using that anachronistic word among children in his village. They are “the Palestinians” and the other people are “Jews,” presumably not to be thought of as really indigenous-although many were. But perhaps we can overlook his literary license-especially as it becomes clear that this isn’t a history or biography at all, but a work of fiction, which takes outrageous liberties – and demonizes one side and one side only.
He side steps the inconvenient fact that the majority of Israelis are descended from refugees from Muslim countries. Did Jews flee countries like Iraq? Oh yes. But, you see, Iraqis and Iraqi Jews always got along famously. So what happened to the 20-25% of Bagdad’s population which were Jewish? How did it dwindle to a mere 4 or 5 people? Well, that was all the fault of the Zionists who staged attacks on the Iraqi Jews in order to encourage them to immigrate to Israel. And, one must presume, the Zionists also encouraged the hesitant Iraqi government, who also love, love Jews to confiscate all of their assets and exile them penniless.
Fast forward. The Lebanon War in the 1980’s. Before Zionism, all Lebanese loved, loved each other. Maronites, Druze, Sunni and Shiites Muslims lived together peacefully. But the wicked Jews (did I say that? Sorry. The wicked Zionists), sent in agents before the war to encourage the various factions to hate one another so that the Zionists could come in, divide and conquer. If that didn’t happen, everything would have been wonderful in Lebanon.
Chacour doesn’t like terrorism. That is against his religion. But he can understand why terrorists are so angry. The 800,000 Jewish refugees, presumably, shouldn’t get angry. Anyway, they only became refugees because of the Zionists.
Chacour also loves, loves himself. In his narcissistic, hagio-autobiography, we see a charismatic, brilliant person who can never do wrong. He comes into the village which was to become his first parish and is rejected and badly treated by the curmudgeonly local lay “responsible” who ran the church affairs. The “responsible” was petty and close minded and set in his ways and very territorial. But the good Father, in contrast, was a picture of Christian virtue and healed the community with his saintly compassion and wisdom. (It is right there in his book, so it must be true.)
He is a saint. Must be. Read the reviews of the book on Amazon. A voice of reason crying in the wilderness: crazy Zionists on one side and crazy Muslim extremists on the other side, but the Lord said “Let there be light!” and there was Chacour! The saint who has the answers which have evaded everybody else for a century. Here is the secret: All you need is love, love. Love is all you need.
Chacour continues to be popular. He keeps on selling books and being invited to talk about love, love, love and peace, peace. Most of his admirers have completely overlooked, or have not heard, that the man is being investigated for sexual misconduct and is out on bail.