Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rev. Naim Ateek Denies and Defends

In a repeat of many other articles of this time, the Reverend Dr. Naim Ateek has arrived on the Huffington Post specifically to defend himself from accusations made elsewhere. None of us knew about who he was or what he has been doing before this article, so it makes one wonder why the Huffington Post decided to give him a platform. This article is supposed to be an apology/defense from accusations made against him, but he also declares his vision of what a future peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians should look like. Most of the article is not controversial but some of it is, which is why I am writing about it. First of all, he declares himself the victim:
"I have now become the primary focus of JCRC attacks. In recent weeks, JCRC has sent letters to churches throughout Northern California charging me with using "abandoned anti-Semitic Christian theologies" and urging pastors to withhold support from the conferences...The first claims that I said, "Judaism is tribal; Christianity is universal. Judaism is wrong and was superseded by Christianity." The second claims that I said, "Jews killed Jesus.""
I am always suspicious of second hand reporting of insults as the opportunity to strawman here is gaping. so I thought I would try to find one of these letters first hand (even though Rev Attek should have provided them himself). Alas I was unable to find them but what I did find was a briefing by the JCRC about this very subject. Leaving aside Rev. Ateek's defense of suicide bombers and his call for a "one state solution," let's focus upon the claims at hand. Here is a statement made by Rev. Ateek quoted from the JCRC:
"In this season of Lent, it seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross
again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him.  It only takes
people of insight to see the hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout
the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified.
Palestine has become one huge Golgatha.  The Israeli government
crucifixion system is operating daily.  Palestine has become the place of
the skull."
Hm. That seems to be that it's actually more offensive than saying that Judaism is tribal. Nor do I think it takes much imagination to see that he is engaging in rhetoric that it is at the very least Christian baiting (despicable in its own right but about normal for Palestinian apologists) but is rather anti-Semitic as well. What else did they find?

"At this Christmas time, when we remember the message of peace and love
that came down from God to earth  in the birth of Jesus Christ, our
celebrations are marred by the destructive powers of the modern day
“Herods” who are represented in the Israeli government
That sure sounds like "Jews killed Christ" to me. So how does Rev. Ateek defend himself? Let's ask him:
"JCRC accuses me of saying that the "Jews killed Jesus," but I never use the word "Jews" in that context....In all of my preaching on this topic, I have never singled out Jews as killers of Jesus. I always refer to the Roman authorities in collusion with religious leaders. And I certainly have never suggested the abhorrent idea that Jews bear collective responsibility for the death of Jesus."
In other words, the classic MJ Rosenbergian "I hate Zionists not Jews," argument. In which such tropes as "Zionists rule the world. I said Zionists not Jews." As long as the author is smart enough not to use the "J word" than anything goes. But let's get to his actual defense of the above statement:
"Likewise, my words that relate the events of the crucifixion to modern reality are clear and specific. I place the responsibility on the Israeli government. There is no mention of "the state of Israel." My words do not delegitimize the state, which is made up of the Israeli people. They critique the "government of Israel" and its policies, which constitute the greatest obstacles to peace."
Ah yes, because if there's one debating point that is sure to win over your opponents it is the semantic argument. Look Rev. Ateek if you didn't mean it then you wouldn't have said it. And I notice that not even you deny that Israel is a democracy, so when you use such dehumanizing labels as "King Herod" directed at the Israeli government everyone knows that your ire is not limited to them. Shall we quote another speech of yours?
"The state of Israel has been brutally gunning down hundreds of people and injuring thousands whose only crime is their desire for a life of freedom and the independence of their own country from the oppressive occupation. King Herod allowed himself to stoop down to the basest of all feelings. He stripped himself of all semblance of humanity when he ordered the killing of innocent children. This scenario is being repeated in a different guise." 
His argument is built upon his choice of words. Well here you have it: "The state of Israel" murders hundreds of innocent victims. Not the people, the army, or the government, but that state itself. But as with many other Palestinian leaders, he says one thing to his actual people and another thing to the gullible readers on the Huffington Post who had probably never heard of him until today.

But his hypocrisy isn't even finished. Click below to read some more.

Next up, Rev. Ateek contradicts himself:
"I do not believe it is right for me or for any Christian to refrain from using the crucifixion imagery that is part of the essence of our faith and is deeply meaningful for our worship and spirituality. This imagery genuinely informs our involvement on behalf of the oppressed everywhere in the world, and Israel-Palestine is no exception. I believe I need to use the imagery whenever it is appropriate and at the same time oppose anyone who abuses it by invoking it against Jews today....When I use this imagery, I am using it in the way Jesus, a Jewish Semitic man, used it. I am not using it in a novel, anti-Semitic way."
So in other words he thinks it is okay for Christians to go around comparing anyone they don't like to a Christ-killer and demon. This is in the same article where he claimed that these accusations made by the JCRC are "erroneous, misleading and cruel." If you're justified in what you said than stand up and be proud Rev. Ateek! But he seems to be using the classic "I was misinterpreted but even if I wasn't then I'm still in the right and my opponents should shut up." 

Also, I'm not religious or Christian. But if I were, I think I might be bothered by Rev. Ateek's desire to put himself in the role of Jesus, thus comparing himself to a God. As a person who pays attention to history, it also bothers me that Rev. Ateek is so enamored with his vision of the Palestinian people as righteous victims that he actually considers them to be holy and perfect God like beings, just like Jesus was. But we already determined that he defends suicide bombings so once you go that far there's nothing all that surprising.

He finishes up with an attempt at sounding moderation, but not before whining that there are "certain people" who want to "silence any criticism of Israel." You know, the same sob story we've heard a million times before from those who want to call Israel a new Nazi state and get away with it. He makes a call for peace and says that the Palestinians should face the truth about the Holocaust. No doubt he thought it was a very courageous thing to say but I am not impressed. That's the minimum the Palestinians should be doing.

So at the end of the day it's classic Palestinian supporter behavior: Say something offensive and controversial. Hope you don't get called on it. When you do, say you were misunderstood. When that obviously doesn't work, say you were still justified, then end by saying "can't we all just get along." Until you are no longer under the microscope, and go back to saying offensive things again. So the wheel turns.

1 comment:

  1. At the end of the day, Ateek's own church is going to be burned to the ground by the filthy muslims he kneels before like a good little dhimmi.

    Can you please use a slightly less complicated CAPTCHA. It is really hard to post here.


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