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Christians Bankroll Palestinian Liberation By: Mark D. Tooley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Some Christians pray for the peace of Jerusalem; others work to tear Jerusalem to pieces. The wealthy New York based United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) tends toward the latter. The GBGM recently approved grants to several anti-Israel groups, including a program operated by Palestinian Liberation Theologians.

GBGM is one of the largest mission agencies in American mainline Protestantism, with a budget of nearly $200 million and assets of about $400 million. Decades ago, GBGM set aside its historic emphasis on evangelism in favor of left-wing social change. Its political grants are small relative to GBGM's overall budget, but they reflect GBGM's ideology, and are certainly imply wider staff involvement in the favored causes.  

At its October 2008 directors meeting, GBGM approved $10,000 for a "youth leadership training program" for Sabeel, a Jerusalem-based "partner" of GBGM and other liberal Western groups. According to church supporters, Sabeel is an "ecumenical, Palestinian Christian, Liberation Theology Center which seeks to make the Gospel contextually relevant." Sabeel advocates a "spirituality based on justice, peace, nonviolence, liberation, and reconciliation," while also promoting a "more accurate international awareness regarding the identity, presence, and witness of Palestinian Christians."  Hosting visitors and organizing events, Sabeel propagandizes for the Palestinians and against Israel, just as similar groups once apologized for the Sandinista dictatorship, and assailed the Contras and the U.S., under the aegis of Liberation Theology.

GBGM has one "missionary intern" who works full-time for Sabeel.

"The people of Palestine know about faith, about hope in things unseen," that GBGM missionary intern for Sabeel rhapsodized earlier this year in a Lenten study.

The people of Palestine know about standing firm. They also know about exile. They know about going out, and they know about coming in. They know about movement, and the lack thereof. They have relatives who have left. They have others who cannot leave. They have others who cannot come back. There can be no God for the Palestinians who does not keep them both in their steadfastness and in their going out and coming in.

Of course, for Liberation Theology's now ossified adherents, God is less interested in saving souls and more focused on overthrowing "unjust" economic and political structures tied to Western capitalism. For its Liberation Theology devotees, Israel is the agent of Western exploitation against oppressed and faultless Palestinian victims.

In further solidarity with the Palestinians, GBGM also voted $10,000 for the International Middle East Media Center 's Palestinian Youth Media Training program. Another $11,400 from GBGM will support a staff person for the group over the next three years. The Center calls itself a "collaboration between Palestinian and International journalists to provide independent media coverage of Israel-Palestine." Essentially, it spins a pro-Palestinian perspective through willing media outlets.

The center is an affiliate of the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement between People, which is a "Palestinian community service center" that supports the "local Palestinian community's efforts to remain steadfast in the face of the hardships imposed by occupation policies." It also urges people to "become involved in nonviolent action and leading them in resistance to the occupation and the struggle for human and national rights." It aims to "lobby for the just Palestinian cause" and "defend Palestinian rights." Among its other public relations activities, the center organizes an "Activist Summer Camp" for Palestinians and international visitors, in collaboration with the American Friends Service Committee and the Holy Land Trust. The camp helps youngsters "enhance their skills in civil-based resistance."

Another beneficiary of GBGM's missions generosity is the "U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation," which is getting $5,000. Based in Washington, D.C, it is devoted to "working for freedom from occupation and equal rights for all by challenging US policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." The Campaign targets the U.S. government, corporations, and other institutions that "sustain Israel's domination of the Palestinian people and denial of their human rights." It seeks to "educate U.S. citizens on the way that these institutions function to undermine the rights of the Palestinian people and mobilize them in support of human rights."

The Campaign supports anti-Israel divestment policies, a right of full-return for all purported Palestinian refugees, and declines to take sides between support for a two-state or a one-state solution. So, essentially the demographic eradication of Israel would suit the Campaign. In November, the Campaign hosted an "anti-apartheid" speaking tour in the U.S. that featured Diana Buttu, a Canadian citizen of Palestinian ethnicity who worked for the PLO during the Second Intifada. The Campaign's steering committee includes GBGM's Executive Secretary for Human Rights & Racial Justice David Wildman.

GBGM has declined officially to endorse anti-Israel divestment, and the United Methodist Church's governing General Conference earlier this year resoundingly rejected divestment proposals. But GBGM and other United Methodist agencies, largely unknown to the church's eight million U.S. church members, remain deeply embedded in anti-Israel activism. GBGM's support for the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation illustrates that the goal is not merely to empower Palestinians but eventually to demographically eliminate Israel.

Traditionally, Christian missions agencies aim to help and redeem nations. But for GBGM, the slow liquidation of at least one country appears to be the objective.

Mark D. Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. He is the author of Taking Back the United Methodist Church.

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