October 7, 2015

Methodist Church Hosts Palestinian Propagandist

Against Israel “most of Palestinian resistance is basically nonviolent,” stated Kairos Palestine Secretary General Hind Khoury on September 21 at Washington, DC’s Dumbarton United Methodist Church (DUMC).  Such alternative reality statements from Khoury raised no visible concern from a small evening audience of over 20 mostly white and older listeners, for whom she preached progressive Palestinian gospel truth.

Various indications even before Khoury spoke confirmed that DUMC in tony Georgetown is firmly part of the Religious Left, such as the entrance sign proclaiming a pro-LGBT Reconciling Congregation.  Chett Pritchett, executive director of event host Methodist Federation for Social Action and a homosexual “advocate for LGBTQ equality in the Church,” introduced Khoury in his home congregation. A yellow “Black Lives Matter” banner in front of the organ in the second-story sanctuary and several accompanying photographs of African-Americans throughout the church showed DUMC’s emphasis on racism.

Despite Pritchett’s introduction of Khoury with an “amazing list of superlatives to her name,” such as a Palestinian Authority (PA) ambassadorship to France, her presentation offered no insight. “We compare ourselves more and more with South Africa,” she stated, evoking the original 2009 Kairos Palestine declaration’s analogy between Israel and the apartheid condemned in the 1985 South African Kairos declaration. Yet numerous analyses have criticized Kairos Palestine for one-sided condemnation of Israel as an aggressor in its conflict with Arabs, legitimization of terrorism, and anti-Semitic biblical interpretations.  As the pro-Israeli group CAMERA concluded, Kairos Palestine reflects a longstanding Arab Christian “intellectual environment where anti-Zionism is an ever-present aspect of Christian peacemaking efforts in the Middle East.”

Khoury presented Israel inflicting suffering upon Palestinians every bit as dire as South African apartheid.  Rather than recognize any Israeli self-defense concerns, she stated that “it is the Palestinians who lack security, even food security,” overlooking increasingly obese Gazans’ fondness for weight loss programs.  She emphasized a 1988 declaration by Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat recognizing Israel’s existence, yet ignored later statements by Arafat and other Palestinian leaders calling such overtures merely temporary.  She described Israelis in the post-1967 disputed territories acting as “psychopaths on the loose” brutally attacking Palestinians with “total impunity,” yet Israeli law prohibits such crimes in contrast to PA terrorism glorification.

Interviewed after her presentation, Khoury paid little attention to evidence that Palestinians since the beginning of the Oslo peace process in 1993 had received per capita many times the aid of postwar Europe’s Marshall Plan.  “Israel makes very good use of speaking about the corruption in the Palestinian Authority,” she stated, but “there is a lot of corruption in Israel as well” like governments worldwide.  The PA has “done a lot of work” and aid donors “control every penny,” she claimed despite all contrary appearances.

Many Christians would not recognize the Christianity presented in the event by Khoury, a self-described “Bethlehem girl” from where “for us every day is Christmas,” a “renewal of real joy and of hope.”  She decried Israel increasingly “using the Bible as an instrument” for “legitimizing its own presence and action” contrary to the anti-Semitic supersessionism advocated by Palestinian Christians like her.  Palestinian theologians “challenge that Zionist narrative,” bringing to mind Kairos Palestine member and Palestinian Anglican cleric Naim Ateek, who in 1989 founded Jerusalem’s Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center.  Kairos Palestine urges “churches to stand alongside the oppressed and preserve the word of God and Good News for all, rather than turn it into a weapon with which to slay the oppressed,” she said.  During audience comments, one man agreed that evangelicals have “been a useful tool of Zionists.”

Palestinians like Khoury complement replacement theology with falsification of Jewish connection to the land of Israel, as shown by Palestinian efforts to erase ancient archeological evidence of Judaism in Israel.  Discussion of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock mosque occupying the site of the Temple Mount elicited from her the comment “that’s what they [Jews] say.” During her interview she argued that the Zionist movement had considered Jewish settlement outside of Palestine in Argentina or Uganda, although these fleeting, controversial proposals derived largely from Jewish desperation. Contrary to her suggestion of wandering Jews with no particular interest in Israel, Palestinian resistance to Zionism showed that “attachment to the land is a very, very strong emotion.”

“The Jewish people of what is the state of Israel today are not the Hebrew people from 2,000 years ago,” Khoury’s presentation stated, a reference to the discredited theories of Israeli professor Shlomo Sand. Sand argued that European Jews descended from converts while biblical Jews had assimilated into the Holy Land’s various populations, entailing that Palestinians like Khoury had more Hebrew ancestry than Israeli Jews. Sand showed “how the Jewish people were created,” she stated in the interview.

Khoury described how Christians were once 20 percent of the Palestinian population during the 20th century, but had now dwindled to one percent, yet appeared strangely more apprehensive about Jews than the Muslims. She cited the “harm being done to our heritage and tradition” from hardly onerous Israeli security controls, like those regulating Palestinian Holy Week pilgrimages to Jerusalem. “There is so much religious fanaticism growing even in our midst,” she briefly noted with reference to Islamic State graffiti in Jerusalem threatening Christians, but then speculated that this could be Israeli intelligence at work.

Khoury completely denied during her interview any persecution of Christians by the Palestinian Muslim majority, a denial often made by Palestinian Christians fearing Muslim reprisals, yet completely contrary to fact. The 2015 World Watch List of the world’s 50 worst countries for persecution of Christians lists the Palestinian territories as number 26 due to “Islamic extremism” (Israel is the only Middle Eastern not on the list). “We have lots of people working against us and they work with statistics as they like,” was her response.

Khoury’s comments are predictable given her 2012 writing on the “Arab Spring.” “As political Islam comes to power,” she argued, “it is showing signs of moderation, accepting political pluralism and democracy in addition to readiness for dialogue with the West.” She also supports “Palestinian internal reconciliation” between the PA and the Muslim Hamas terrorists ruling the Gaza Strip.

Khoury’s interview evinced strange understandings of Christian-Muslim conversions, although Palestinians “know for a fact that many families are originally Christian” but are now Muslim. The possibility of Muslims converting to Christianity, though, prompted her response, “why should they?  Why create that kind of dissent? Keep people with their religion.” The “three monotheistic religions, if you go down to values, the real core of religion, they are the same,” she stated. Rather than pursue evangelization under Jesus’ Great Commission, “I would evangelize people to goodness and to the values of love.”

Such goodness, however, brought no admission of Arab anti-Semitism when the interview noted the Middle Eastern Jews who fled their countries in the decades following Israel’s establishment in 1948. Denying that these Jews were refugees, Khoury angrily asserted that “there is no anti-Semitism among Arabs.” This astonishing view contrasted with her presentation remarks that “Palestinians cannot go on paying for European anti-Semitism,” a Kairos Palestine theme that the West supported Israel’s establishment due to Holocaust guilt. “Anti-Semitism is a product of the West, and not of the East,” she had lectured while noting Iberian Jews seeking refuge in Muslim lands from Christian persecution. Considering anger towards Israel throughout Muslim countries, she qualified dubiously that “you can’t keep on confusing anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism.”

Khoury’s ideological boilerplate continued throughout her interview. She demanded a general Israeli withdrawal to the “borders of 1967 that defines the state of Israel,” the infamous “Auschwitz borders” formed by the 1949 armistice lines. This included abandoning the “occupied territory” of the strategically vital Golan Heights, even as she recognized the ravages of the Islamic State in what was once Syria.

Arabs had always defended themselves against Jews in Khoury’s view, going back to the 1936-1939 Arab Revolt. Rather than concede that Israel defended itself in the 1967 war, she stated that “certainly Israel wasn’t innocent in that war. It was planned. There was something that was wanted” as indicated by subsequent Israeli territorial gains. Hamas terrorists today “need to defend themselves” in a “Gaza is under siege” while the genocidal Hamas “charter, I am told, is written by one man.” The “details” of Arab attacks on Israel such as during the 1948 or 1967 wars pale in comparison to Palestinians being “ethnically cleansed from our own country.”

Those pressing for Israel to seek peace with its Palestinian neighbors should remember Khoury and her audience, from which came various “Israel=Third Reich/Jim Crow” analogies during the reception. After becoming progressively agitated under critical questioning, she announced at the interview’s end to the event organizers still present that the interviewer “doesn’t belong here” and momentarily tried to grab this reporter’s recorder. The would-be Christian peacemaker Khoury’s stridency, shown already during past interviews, does not bode well for Israeli peace with Palestinian Christians, to say nothing of Palestinian Muslims.


13 Responses to Methodist Church Hosts Palestinian Propagandist

  1. Dan says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong but aren’t UMC congregations forbidden from identifying as “Reconciling Congregations” since this movement is not an officially recognized UMC group? Why aren’t the bishops disciplining the leaders of these congregations. Does this mean that my UMC congregation can now proclaim itself a concealed carry supporting congregation to warn off the people who seek out gun free zones to commit mayhem?

    • Xerxesfire says:

      To answer your question: I believe you are correct. However, some churches do consider themselves to be “reconciling” and nothing is done to discipline them in any way. I am sometimes amazed at what the UMC does or doesn’t do these days. Church discipline is very lax in many conferences it seems. Of course, for now, the UMC has to follow the Book of Discipline. There will come a time when the United Methodist Church will become The Un-tied Methodist Church. Conservatives and liberals can’t coexist together forever. The Bible says this in 2nd Corinthians 6:14-17.

  2. Mike says:

    It is also South Africans asking if Israel is practicing apartheid: http://www.hsrc.ac.za/en/media-briefs/democracy-goverance-and-service-delivery/report-israel-practicing-apartheid-in-palestinian-territories
    I was not an organizer for the event but did see the end of Mr. Harrod’s interview with Ms. Khoury. He was getting very excited and his questioning more aggressive like, “what about 1948? Or 1936-39?” He just could not believe what the speaker said. She became afraid of him and ended the long interview, and Mr Harrod left the church laughing maniacally all the way down the steps and out the door. The menacing behavior from the reporter made her afraid to leave the building. Why interview people at all if you already know what you’re going to write about? Just to attack Christians with no power, no privilege, few rights, and who are suffering and espousing non-violent resistance? Is this what IRD stands for?

    • AEHarrod says:

      “He doesn’t belong here”? What kind of statement is that? Trying to take away personal property like my recorder? My questions about 1948 and 1936-1939 were “aggressive”? And my favorite, “there is no Arab anti-Semitism.” Of course I laughed. This was a former ambassador to France? She was afraid to leave the building?

      • Mike says:

        I guess in the course of the interview you lost her trust, and she started to feel like you’d interviewed her not to understand her perspective but simply to tell her your own or trap her somehow. The lives of people who live as non-citizens in a country that affords them no reason to believe they’ll ever be granted rights or respect, is complex; but I can’t speak for her. I think if you wanted to understand the context for her remarks, it might help to just go and spend a week or two in the West Bank talking to people.

      • Mike says:

        One thing more I might respond to is your mention of “Arab anti-Semitism.” I can’t speak for Arabs generally but I can for Palestinians. I spent 3 months at a secondary school outside Bethlehem and certainly expected anti-semitism. But I heard just the opposite. Adults spoke of Israeli’s as “smart” – several said that, and at the school, I saw two teenage boys draw a picture of the Israeli flag on the side chalkboard, just playing around before class. They wrote “Israel” (in English) on the top line. No one erased it that day. And the PA English textbooks from 7th-11th grade (I read them all) also had nothing derogatory of Israel. They want democracy, two state or one state (since they don’t believe 2 states are possible) and would settle for basic human rights like due process, respect of private property, freedom to move, to grow, to share management of resources. I went there thinking I would see gang issues and a lot of hate and anger. I left feeling ashamed that I thought that way. They aren’t Hamas and they aren’t Fatah; they see themselves as Palestinian Christian’s and Muslim’s and as targets of the Israeli frontier because everyday they are threatend by soldiers and everyday they lose more agricultural land. Check out btselem.org – they are Israeli and do honest reporting on the West Bank.

  3. bostic says:

    My question is this– when we finally do split, what will the church look like? Will it be a jurisdictional split or a church by church decision? I serve an orthodox evangelical church that has grown to be one of the top twenty largest churches in our conference. We are building a seven million dollar facility and my leaders ( including myself) are concerned that they will lose all they have done because of a left-right split. If we were to be forced to be progressive church, I feel we would not be able to afford to pay for the building. This question is not about opinions of left or right because right now we are all wrong. But does anyone have ideas on how the structure or decisions would be made. Thank you for any insight! Blessings, Jamie

  4. Skipper says:

    Andrew, thanks for keeping us updated on this. It is disappointing that a UM Church would entertain such a speaker. The Propagandist may know that the Arab counties surrounding Israel have taken the property of Jews (and many Christians) and caused them to flee. They should be amazed that Israel has not booted all the Arabs in return. It must be very difficult to “turn the other cheek” in the Middle-East.

    • Mike says:

      I heard her talk and do not see her as a ‘propagandist’ because propaganda is a tool of the powerful, a way to hide their wrong doing. This speaker, what is her power? She is female in a male culture, Christian in a predominantly Jewish / Muslim region, and Palestinian in a country that defines itself as “Jewish” and denies Palestinians rights. She is a triple minority. And she advocates, non-violently, FOR Christians in the Holy Land, and for strengthening Israel’s democracy, making it more equitable. That may be why the UMC hosted her.

  5. Earl H. Foote says:

    This is indeed sad. Ironic that the United Methodist Church is being hailed by some for its continued official adherence to the traditional views of sexuality yet is permitting such a gross distortion of the authentic Biblical views of God’s Chosen People. Also ironically, I wonder what the Palestinian speaker thought of the gay-rights banners, given the atrocious Palestinian treatment of gay people and others. The consistent theme of the speaker seemed to be, “My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts!”

    • Mike says:

      Actually, the writer does not represent her views well. Have you read Deuteronomy lately? She (and most all Palestinians) would be more than pleased if Israel was faithful to the covenant because it would ensure them rights, even as “strangers” (though they call themselves children of Abraham) instead of, as they constantly complain, of exploitation and land theft. God has moral standards and her assertion is that Israel ignores them. If you go to Area C of the West Bank, you can see for yourself and make up your own mind.

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