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ICEJ to Church Leaders: Denouncing Israel does nothing for Peace

Mainline church leaders who systematically demonize the Israeli security forces while whitewashing the record of those committed to her destruction do little to promote true peace in the Middle East says the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem (ICEJ) – the world’s leading Jerusalem-based evangelical ministry.

The comments by the ICEJ’s USA Director, Susan Michael, were made in response to a letter written to the US Congress by fifteen mainline church leaders alleging human rights violations by Israeli troops and calling for an investigation of American military aid to the country.

“They would do us all a service if they would begin to address the real issues of the day like the endemic persecution of Christians in the Muslim world, the atrocities of the Syrian government against their own citizens and the threat to global peace and stability posed by a nuclear-armed Iran,” countered Michael in response to the October 5th letter by leaders of the Presbyterian Church (USA), United Methodist Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the National Council of Churches. 

The letter which was issued late in the day on the eve of the Sabbath in the midst of the Jewish holiday season of Sukkot, prompted angry and articulate responses from Jewish leaders, including the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), and the Rabbinical Assembly of Conservative Rabbis (RA).  It also led to the cancellation of an annual Christian-Jewish leaders’ summit which was to have been held October 22-23 in New York. The so-called Jewish-Christian Roundtable was launched in 2004 in the wake of liberal Protestant movements to divest from companies doing business with Israel.

“The timing couldn’t have been worse,” says Michael who has been actively involved in promoting greater dialogue between the Jewish and Christian communities in the US for over thirty years.  “The whole point of the New York meeting was to ease the tension with these denominations. But what this letter revealed was that many of their leaders never had any intention of abandoning their one-side Israel-bashing agenda, no matter how factually inaccurate and counterproductive it has proven to be.”

“Millions of Christians in these mainline churches do not support this type of ongoing demonization of the Jewish state, especially by church leaders who refuse to acknowledge the ongoing rocket-fire and terrorist attacks being carried out against ordinary Israelis on a daily basis,” Michael continued. “It is time that those who claim to represent the cause of Christ take stances that may actually help peace rather than simply condemning Israel for her efforts to defend her civilians.” 

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is headquartered in the Israeli capital, with branch offices and representatives in some 70 nations, and a reach into more than 125 nations around the world. Its primary mandate is to serve as a “ministry of comfort” to Israel and the Jewish People worldwide, as a means for Christians to finally redress the lingering grievances which the Jewish people have against us due to the tragic history of Christian anti-Semitism.


NOTES

For more background on this issue see: Dexter Van Zile, ‘Mainline American Christian “Peacemakers” against Israel’ November 5, 2009, published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:

See also: ICEJ Response to 'Open Letter' to American Christian Zionists, October 2011
 


For Media Inquiries Contact:
Michael Hines
–Media Director, ICEJ USA

Behind the 'Christ at the Checkpoint' Conference


Just when the annual “Israel Apartheid Week” campaign will be hitting college campuses across North America this week, Palestinian Christians will be hosting a five-day conference in Bethlehem which is expected to convey many of the same messages and aims of seeking to delegitimize Israel. What makes this “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference unusual is that it is largely an initiative of Christians from the Evangelical movement, whose ranks traditionally have held favorable views on Israel.

This briefing paper provides background information for the media on the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference [March 5-9, 2012], its objectives, sponsors, and the speakers involved.

Download this article in pdf format »

The annual “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference was first launched in 2010 at the initiative of the Bethlehem Bible College, an Evangelical institution established by local Palestinian Christian clerics and educators. Many of the core sponsors and speakers at that initial “Checkpoint” gathering were previously involved in events held under the auspices of the Sabeel Center, directed by local Anglican canon, Rev. Naim Ateek. Yet it appears that these Evangelicals have made a conscious effort in recent years to distance themselves from their past associations with Sabeel and to offer a forum more appealing to a wider Evangelical audience. Indeed, Dr. Ateek was a speaker at the inaugural 2010 Checkpoint gathering but has not been invited back since.

Christian Zionism & Social Justice

Rev. Malcolm Hedding examines the issues behind the 'Christ at the Checkpoint' Conference and why certain sections of the Evangelical church are claiming the moral high ground in advocating for “social justice.” Read more »

 Critics of Sabeel say it has espoused a radical brand of Palestinian Liberation Theology that would seek to justify violence by the “oppressed” Palestinians against the “oppressor” Israel on biblical grounds. In one sample of his radical rhetoric, Ateek once told followers in an Easter message: “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 golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull.” (1)

Over the years, a number of Sabeel speakers have also denied the reliability and authority of Scripture or offered radical interpretations of biblical passages related to Israel. For instance, the late Prof. Michael Prior denounced the Bible as “a dangerous book” which legitimizes and mandates genocide. Prior also described the authors of the biblical narratives as “very narrow minded, xenophobic, perhaps militaristic… pin-headed bigots,” and ridiculed Joshua as the “patron saint of ethnic cleansers.” (2)

These are all positions that would make most Evangelicals quite uncomfortable and even the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rev. Rowan Williams, turned down an invitation to speak at a Sabeel conference in Jerusalem in 2004 because he did not want to be  identified with “the wrong voices” – as his spokesman put it at the time. (3)

Thus the annual “Christ at the Checkpoint” conferences should be seen as a bid by local Palestinian clerics and their allies abroad to move away from Sabeel and offer a message more appealing to Evangelicals. This has included an effort to invite new voices into the conference more supportive of Israel. This year’s roster of speakers, for example, includes Rev. Wayne Hilsden of the King of Kings Community fellowship in Jerusalem and two local Messianic Jewish leaders.

Still, these voices will likely be drowned out by the overwhelming chorus of Israel critics at the conference, and the thrust of Christ at the Checkpoint 2012 will remain largely a one-sided message based on a deeply flawed historical narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and highly suspect theology.

Nonetheless, the conference has begun to achieve its aim of drawing more speakers and attendees from the Evangelical movement, though from its more liberal wing, such as Tony Campolo and Lynne Hybels. These Evangelical newcomers have begun expressing sympathies for Palestinian suffering as part of their wider advocacy for the cause of “social justice.” But they are largely novices regarding the history and complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and thus their views are often misinformed and easily misguided by anti-Israel propaganda.

A number of these new Checkpoint participants from the “Religious Left” signed the letter to US President George W. Bush in July 2007 seeking to distance themselves from the Evangelical mainstream’s more skeptical view of Palestinian intentions in the Middle East peace process. (4)

Meanwhile, the more veteran Evangelical critics of Israel involved in the Checkpoint conference consist mainly of native Palestinian Christian clergy with nationalistic motivations, along with a small group of Christian scholars from the West who have made a career out of maligning Israel and its Christian Zionist admirers.

Most of the local Palestinian Christian participants can claim genuine Evangelical credentials and some have personal family stories of loss and dispossession which they have utilized to elicit sympathy from Evangelicals abroad. The “Local Committee” for the Checkpoint conference is listed as Munther Isaac, Bishara Awad, Salim Munayer, Hanna Katanacho, Jack Sarah, Sami Awad and Alex Awad.

The veteran Evangelical scholars from abroad will include Stephen Sizer and Colin Chapman from the UK, and Gary Burge from Wheaton College, near Chicago. They were also previously involved with Sabeel events in years past and were among its most strident critics of Israel and of Christian Zionism. Sizer, for instance, has defended the provocative Gaza flotilla in May 2010, welcomed the caustic comments against Jews by veteran AP White House correspondent Helen Thomas which led to her dismissal, and has even been willing to appear at conferences alongside radical Islamist elements from Iran and Hizbullah who called for Israel’s elimination and denied the Holocaust. (5)

Based on past Checkpoint conferences, the listed speakers, and the topics to be addressed, the gathering can be expected to promote a series of disturbing positions, including:

Cloaked versions of Replacement theology: For many Evangelicals, the main concern with the Checkpoint conference lays in the theology espoused by various invited speakers which serves to undergird their one-sided and critical approach to Israel. Not wanting to be identified with Replacement theology and its abysmal fruits down through Church history, many now expound Fulfillment theology or other beliefs which deny Israel its rightful place in the land today. They maintain that with the death and resurrection of Christ, all the Old Testament promises to Israel were fulfilled. Yet this teaching winds up in the same place as Replacement theology by insisting that Israel has already served its purpose and the Church has now superseded the Jewish people as God’s redemptive agent in the world. This teaching does not give room for a unique and enduring national calling upon the Jewish people and rejects any notion that the modern-day restoration of Israel is the consequence of God keeping His eternal covenant with them. Rather they denounce Zionism as “man-made.” In doing so, they also abrasively assail Christian Zionist supporters of Israel without just cause. (6)

The Israel=Apartheid analogy: Many Checkpoint speakers have wrongly smeared Israel with the apartheid label and called for dismantling the Jewish state. For instance, conference speaker Ben White has authored a book entitled, “Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide”. The fact that the conference is timed to coincide with Israel Apartheid Week only serves to reinforce this distorted message. The conference has also set aside special sessions to reflect on the Kairos Palestine document, co-written by conference organizer Yohanna Katanacho, which peddles the apartheid analogy as well as the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions strategy. (7)  It is worth noting that some leading proponents of this BDS movement are now admitting its real aim is the elimination of Israel, not peace with the Palestinians.

The ‘Palestinian Jesus’: Many Palestinian political and religious leaders, including the late Yasser Arafat, have falsely portrayed Jesus as a Palestinian revolutionary fighting Roman oppression, and described Palestinians today as the Body of Christ suffering under Israeli oppression. Even the very name of the conference, “Christ at the Checkpoint,” plays into this distorted narrative of a Palestinian Jesus. A number of conference speakers have endorsed this twisting of the true Jewish identity of the historic figure of Jesus. For instance, co-sponsor Sami Awad once wrote that an Israeli incursion into Bethlehem during the second intifada was akin to the Roman massacre of infants in the same city as described in the Christmas story. He wrote of “passing by big Israeli army tanks and army personnel carriers each pointing their guns at us. Israeli army troops were being brought from all corners into Bethlehem like Herod's soldiers… We pray that the reign of Herod will come to an end and that the message of the Prince of Peace will again be a light from Bethlehem to all corners of the world.” (8)

One-sided Palestinian narrative: Conference speakers have repeatedly denounced Israeli “injustices” against the Palestinians while ignoring or falsifying the true course of events which led to Palestinian loss and displacement. That is, there is little or no acknowledgement that the Jewish people came to resettle their ancient homeland in peace and it was Arab leaders who ignited a war against the fledgling state of Israel in 1948. Further, there is no acknowledgement that Palestinian leaders have repeatedly rejected peace offers made by Israel and escalated the conflict instead, leading to more losses for their people. Conference speakers have consistently downplayed Palestinian terrorism and other security threats to Israel, while also ignoring radical Islam as a primary source of Palestinian Christian grievances. The conference’s use of the Israeli security “Wall” and IDF checkpoints as symbols of their suffering is indicative of this dishonest historical narrative. No calls for reconciliation and ‘social justice’ – as demanded by numerous Checkpoint speakers – can be built upon such untruths.

Beyond Anti-Israelism: Finally, certain speakers invited to the Checkpoint conference have taken stands that go beyond mere criticism of Israel and into outright anti-Semitism. Scholars have characterized the “new anti-Semitism” as obsessive efforts to highlight and condemn alleged injustices committed by the Jewish state while ignoring gross atrocities being committed elsewhere. In this regard, it should be noted that the Christ at the Checkpoint conference is being convened to focus on perceived Israeli injustices at a time when Arab regimes in the region have been openly slaughtering their own people.

In anticipation of the Checkpoint conference, Dr. Jürgen Bühler, Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, noted on Sunday: “While we do recognize and respect the organizers of the conference as our brothers in Christ, we do have strong disagreements concerning their theological approach, as it can easily can lend itself to anti-Semitism and anti-Israel propaganda, as some of the Checkpoint speakers have proven in the past. Yet at the same time, we have to confess that too many Christian friends of Israel have neglected our Arab brothers in the Holy Land and beyond. We surely need to increase our efforts to prove that being pro-Israel does not mean being anti-Arab. Jesus loves both people groups and we do well to do the same.”



Footnotes:
1. An Easter Message from Sabel (Sabeel Article Archive)  
2. Paul Wilkinson, “Report of The 5th International Sabeel Conference, April 14-18, 2004
3. http://www.episcopalarchives.org/cgi-bin/ENS/ENSpress_release.pl?pr_number=042804-3
4. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/29/us/evangelical_letter.html
5. See: http://seismicshock.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/antisemitism-and-christ-at-the-checkpoint-2012.pdf
6. See: http://us.icej.org/news/commentary/israel-and-fulfillment-theology
7. http://www.kairospalestine.ps/; See also http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Article.aspx?id=164070
8. http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=9598

Juha Ketola to serve as ICEJ International Director

As part of the continuing transition to new leadership within the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, we are pleased to announce that the current Chairman of our Board of Trustees, Rev. Juha Ketola, has been appointed to serve as the ministry’s new International Director. He takes over this key position from Dr. Juergen Buehler, who is now serving as the Executive Director of the worldwide organisation.

Rev. Ketola has been a pastor and travelling evangelist in his native Finland as well as in Canada for many years, and took over as National Director of the ICEJ’s Finnish branch in 2005 from its founder Dr. Ulla Jarvilehto. He was elected Chairman of the international board last year and will now move on to the daily task of overseeing the ICEJ’s global network of more than 70 national branches.

“Juha has hands-on experience as a pastor and now as a branch director, as well as serving on our international board”, said Dr. Buehler. “These qualifications will serve him well as he joins our permanent staff in Jerusalem and begins overseeing our national branches worldwide.”

“We clearly see God’s guidance in this decision and we know that Juha is the right person for this position”, Buehler added.

In addition, the Grafted Young Adults department of the ICEJ will be welcoming a new director, as Jani Salokangas, also from Finland, will come take over from Liesl Maas in coming months. Jani is a talented and dedicated youth minister who has been increasingly involved in Grafted tours and activities in recent years. Jani will fill a strategic position which will serve as a link between Israel and young Christians worldwide.

Liesl Maas helped launch this special outreach to the young generation back in 2003 and built Grafted into a vanguard expression of Christian Zionism among young adults. Both Liesl and her husband Bram Maas will remain involved in the ministry from their new home in the Netherlands.

Profile: Juha Ketola
Rev. Juha Ketola has been in the full-time ministry since 1985, serving as a pastor and an evangelist in his native Finland as well as in Canada. He is a graduate of the International Bible Institute of London Kensington Temple in England and an ordained minister with the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada and Finland. Since the summer of 2000, he has been ministering as an itinerant preacher, holding church meetings and gospel outreaches in various countries while also sharing about God’s plans concerning the modern-day restoration of Israel. He has been speaking at events for the ICEJ since 1996. Currently, he serves as Chairman of the ICEJ International Board of Trustees and as the National Director of ICEJ-Finland. Juha Ketola and his wife, Kati, have three children and two grandchildren. They will take up residence in Jerusalem in coming months.
 

German Christians to mark 70th anniversary of Wannsee at Yad Vashem

On Thursday and Friday of this week (19-20 January 2012), the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem will be hosting a high-ranking delegation of German and Austrian Christian leaders representing some 30 Protestant denominations and Evangelical ministries for a series of events marking the 70th anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, the infamous meeting of Nazi officials which decided upon the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.”

The two-day gathering in Jerusalem will be highlighted by a wreath-laying ceremony at Yad Vashem’s Hall of Remembrance to honor the Jewish victims and survivors of the Holocaust, followed by addresses by Israeli cabinet minister Yuli Edelstein and other dignitaries. The delegation of 70 prominent pastors and ministry leaders also will pay a visit to the Knesset, meet with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, hold a special prayer service at the Western Wall, and attend a memorial concert at Mishkenot Sha´ananim featuring performances by the noted German Christian Music Academy of Stuttgart.

The Wannsee Conference was held on January 20, 1942 at a lakeside villa outside Berlin and was attended by 15 high-ranking Nazi bureaucrats who set in motion the implementation of a plan to eradicate the Jews of Europe. The meeting was convened by Reinhard Heydrich, assistant to deputy Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler, who led a discussion on methods to be used for the systematic, industrial murder of all Jews within Germany’s reach. A chart compiled by Adolf Eichmann for the Wannsee Conference listed all of the estimated 11 million Jews of Europe and northwest Africa as potential targets.

“The Nazi officials who deliberated at Villa Wannsee over their ghastly plans for exterminating European Jewry were all well-educated, with at least half of them holding doctorate degrees. Some were also the sons of Protestant ministers, yet not one of them raised any moral objections to this heinous plot,” noted Dr. Jürgen Bühler, the Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem. “We are here to continue the repentance of our nation for this enormous crime by those who committed mass murder in the name of a wicked ideology. The Church in Germany still has so much more to do to amend for our deafening silence in those dark days.”

The high-level delegation from Germany and Austria will be representing some ten million Germans and Austrians from the Protestant, Evangelical, Charismatic and Pentecostal streams of Christianity. The dignitaries include:

Rev. Ingolf Ellßel, Chairman of the Pentecostal European Fellowship
Rev. Siegfried Tomazsewski, European Director of Christ for all Nations
Claus Philippin, President of International Christian Chamber of Commerce-Germany
Hannelore Illgen, representative of the Federation of Pentecostal Churches in Germany
Rev. Gerry Klein, Director of the Bible College at Bad Gandersheim
Karl-Heinz Geppert, Director of the Aki Liebenzell Communities
Martin Baron, prominent Christian Businessman and Author
Karl Klanner, National Director of ICEJ-Austria
Gottfried Bühler, National Director of ICEJ-Germany
Dietmar Kern, Board Member of Initiative 27 January, Christians for Israel-Germany
Friedemann Meussling, Director of the Christian Music and Art Academy of Stuttgart

***************************
Press are invited to cover the following events:
Thursday, 19 January
17:00 – Special Reception and Concert at the Konrad Adenhauer Conference Center, Mishkenot Sha´ananim, with German Christian leaders and local Holocaust survivors (in partnership with Helping Hands Coalition).

Friday, 20 January
11:15 – Wreath laying ceremony in the Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashem, followed by addresses by Israeli Cabinet Minister Yuli Edelstein, Rev. Ingolf Ellßel, Chairman of the Pentecostal European Fellowship, and other dignitaries (in partnership with the Christian Desk at Yad Vashem).

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
David Parsons, ICEJ Media Director
Cell: 052-381-6214
E-mail

***********************************************

HISTORIC BACKGROUND ON THE WANNSEE CONFERENCE

The Villa Wannsee
The Villa Wannsee

On the 70th Anniversary of the infamous Wannsee Conference, German Christian leaders will be gathering in Jerusalem to honor the Jewish victims and survivors of the Nazi genocide and to condemn the rise of neo-Nazism.

The infamous Wannsee Conference took place at a lakeside villa outside Berlin where, on January 20, 1942, a small group of 15 senior Nazi bureaucrats set in motion the implementation of the “Final Solution of the Jewish Question.” This involved a plan developed by Reinhard Heydrich, assistant to deputy Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler, to systematically murder not just those Jews under Nazi occupation, but all of the estimated 11 million Jews of Europe and northwest Africa.

The passing of 70 years since Wannsee comes at a time when Germany has been shocked by news of the arrest of a militant neo-Nazi terror cell which is suspected of a string of racist murders and bank robberies across the country over the past decade. Chancellor Angela Merkel has described the exposure of the radical right-wing gang as a “disgrace” which has brought “shame” on the nation.
In this context, German Christian leaders have come to Jerusalem on the occasion of the 70th Anniversary of the Wannsee Conference to deliver a critical message to the world that the abhorrent evil of Nazism represented by the cold and calculating decision taken at this gathering must never be allowed to rise again. They will also be honoring the Jewish victims and survivors of the Holocaust at a special series of events at Yad Vashem and at the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

The dark legacy of Wannsee

The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of 15 senior Nazi officials held at a plush villa on Lake Wannsee just outside of Berlin on 20 January 1942. The meeting was convened by Reinhard Heydrich to inform the administrative heads of various government departments with some level of jurisdiction over the Jews that he had been appointed as the chief executor of the “Final Solution to the Jewish question.”

In the course of the meeting, Heydrich presented a plan, presumably approved by Adolf Hitler, for the deportation of the Jewish populations of Europe and French North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) to German-occupied areas in eastern Europe, and the use of the Jews fit for labor on road-building projects, in the course of which they were expected to eventually die. According to the recorded minutes of the Wannsee Conference, any surviving remnant would be annihilated after completion of the road projects. This initial plan was soon altered as subsequent events unfolded during the war. When Soviet and Allied forces began pushing back the German lines, Nazi leaders decided to accelerate the extermination process and most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe were sent to death camps or concentration camps, or killed where they lived. Nonetheless, the Wannsee Conference stands as the clearest single evidentiary proof on which the entire Nazi leadership can be indicted for a collective genocidal plot to eradicate all of European Jewry.

In the months leading up to Wannsee, German forces invading the Soviet Union had made rapid advances to the gates of Moscow and a euphoric Nazi leadership began to discuss how to deal with the four million Jews of Eastern Europe which had fallen under German control. Shedding any moral restraints, Hitler and his chief lieutenants, Herman Göring and Heinrich Himmler, deliberated over the most practical “solution” to the “Jewish question.” Although no written order by Hitler to exterminate all Jews has ever been found, certain comments he made around this time made it clear he wanted to rid them from his realm. Based on this understanding, Göring gave written authorization to Reinhard Heydrich, chief of the Reich Main Security Office (RSHA), to “make all necessary preparations” for a “total solution of the Jewish question.”

At that moment Heydrich was directing the Einsatzgruppen, the roving Nazi death squads which were already slaughtering tens of thousands of Jews in the newly conquered Soviet territories. He viewed his task as ascertaining and then overseeing a more efficient method for exploiting Jewish labor on the way to working and starving them to death.

But then in late 1941, the Soviets launched an effective counterattack outside Moscow, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the United States joined the fray, and the Nazi hierarchy realized the war would last longer than expected. There would not be enough supplies to feed everyone in the conquered Soviet territories, so discussions turned from the “evacuation” of Jews to their “extermination.” It is likely that a decision was made at around the time of the stall outside Moscow. On December 18, Himmler met with Hitler and afterwards noted in his appointment book “Jewish question – to be exterminated as partisans.” Heydrich had originally invited the administrative heads to a meeting on December 9 to discuss the logistics of his plan for deporting Jews to forced labor camps. But the meeting had to be postponed, as several invitees were called away last minute to a symbolic gathering of the Nazi party’s top echelons to formally declare war on America. Now armed with different marching orders, Heydrich rescheduled the meeting for January 20, 1942 at a lakeside estate in a suburb of Berlin. His primary aim was to bring together representatives of all affected departments to explain the mechanics of a revised plan he was personally commissioned to oversee by the highest authority of the Third Reich. Heydrich’s six-week postponement gave him an opportunity to broaden the original objective from deportations to one fixed on carrying out the ‘Final Solution.”

Eichmann
Adolph Eichmann

The ministries represented included Interior, Justice, the Four Year Plan and Occupied Eastern Territories, as well as the Foreign Office, the Reich Chancellery, and the head of the Gestapo. Heydrich’s right-hand man Adolph Eichmann was to take the minutes.

In preparation for the conference, Eichmann had drafted a list with the estimated numbers of Jews in the various European countries, both those under direct Reich control or occupation as well as those countries that were allied or client states, neutral, or at war with Germany. In total, Heydrich’s plan targeted an estimated 11 million Jews in Europe and parts of northwest Africa under the control of the Vichy French.

Heydrich opened the conference by explaining that “after appropriate prior approval by the Führer, emigration as a possible solution has been superseded by a policy of evacuating Jews to the East.” But he added that this would only be a “provisional” solution, as “practical experience” was already being collected for the “future final solution of the Jewish question.”

Holocaust deniers claim that the Wannsee Conference decided on no more than the “evacuation” of the Jewish population of Europe to the east, with no reference to killing them. In fact, Heydrich made clear the ultimate fate intended for the evacuees:

“The possible final remnant will, since it will undoubtedly consist of the most resistant portion, have to be treated accordingly, because it is the product of natural selection and would, if released, act as the seed of a new Jewish revival.”
 

Heydrich
Reinhard Heydrich

Heydrich’s meaning would have been obvious to the conference attendees, as they were all educated men well versed in Nazi terminology. At least eight of the fifteen participants held doctorate degrees. No one raised any moral objections. At most, several sought clarification on whether mixed Jews were to be included.

Heydrich went on to say that in the course of the “practical execution of the final solution,” Europe would be “combed through from west to east.” Afterwards, Eichmann sent copies of the conference minutes, styled the “Wannsee ,” to all the participants. It was not until 1947 that a copy of the minutes was found by an American prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials. The Wannsee minutes, however, do not mention killing. These omissions were not fully understood until the interrogation and trial of Eichmann in Israel in 1962. Eichmann told his questioners that towards the end of the meeting cognac was served, and that after that the conversation became less restrained.

“The gentlemen were standing together, or sitting together,” he said, “and were discussing the subject quite bluntly, quite differently from the language which I had to use later in the record. During the conversation they minced no words about it at all... they spoke about methods of killing, about liquidation, about extermination.”
In his recorded minutes, Eichmann summed up these chilling words in one bland sentence: “In conclusion the different types of possible solutions were discussed.”

Wansee Protocol
The Wannsee Protocol

Christian Leaders' joint-response to 'Just Peacemaking' letter

CHRISTIAN SCHOLARS & LEADERS’ RESPONSE TO:
An Open Letter to America’s Christian Zionists’ published by
Fuller Seminary’s ‘Just Peacemaking Initiative’
 
(download pdf version)
 

October 26, 2011
 

We, the undersigned Christian scholars and leaders, wish to express our deep concern about the narrow theological and political perspectives that were expressed by two of our evangelical colleagues in their “Open Letter to America’s Christian Zionists’. While we appreciate the concern for the Palestinian people exhibited by the authors, we are disappointed that those who term themselves “just peacemakers” would make such a one-sided and simplistic portrayal of a very complex situation. Few situations in history have been as complex and difficult as the Arab-Israeli conflict and true peacemakers will doubtless decry injustice, inhumanity, and loss of life in both the Israeli and Palestinian communities.

The authors of the “Open Letter” demonstrated a lack of balance when they expressed their own uncritical support for the Palestinians while blaming Christian Zionists for “uncritical support” of Israel. Any analysis that does not recognize failed Palestinian leadership and the clearly antisemitic stance of most of their supporters is unacceptable. To bring Christian Zionists into this one-sided blame game obscures the real issues.

Not only do these scholars exclusively blame Israel for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but they actually go so far as to justify Iran’s nuclear build-up and plans to annihilate Israel as being in response to “sinful” Israeli policies rather than a manifestation of sinful and antisemitic Iranian ideology. Then, they characterize evangelical Christians who support Israel as being sinful as well.

The authors of the “Open Letter” are right to be concerned for the justice of the Palestinian people, but they are clearly wrong to blame fellow evangelicals instead of the Arab leaders who are more committed to the eradication of Israel than to bettering the lives of their own people. Justice will only come to the Palestinians when their leaders lay aside their ideology of hate and negotiate peace with Israel.

Christians, particularly evangelicals, support Israel for a wide range of theological and political reasons while recognizing their role as “peacemakers” who are supporting the Jewish people whose ancestors experienced centuries of injustice and violence that was often supported and carried out by leaders and people who purported themselves to be Christians.

We, therefore, encourage our evangelical colleagues who authored the “Open Letter to America’s Christian Zionists” to undertake a truly academic study that is serious and balanced by engaging both sides of these historical, political and theological issues before issuing such one-sided attacks on both Jews and fellow Christians in public forums.

We also concur with the conclusions reached in the well-balanced “Response by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem,” and we commend this document to all Christians.

Signed,

Dr. Tony Crisp

Executive Director, Center for Holy Land Studies
Tennessee Temple University

Dr. Kenyn Cureton
Vice President for Church Ministries
Family Research Council

Dr. George Giacumakis
Director, Museum of Biblical & Sacred Writings, Irvine, CA;
Professor of History, California State University, Fullerton

Dr. John D. Garr
President, Hebraic Heritage Christian Center

Dr. R. Hollis Gause
Professor, NT and Theology
Founding Dean and Director, Pentecostal Theological Seminary

Dr. H. Dean Haun
President, Tennessee Baptist Convention Pastors Conference
Executive Board, Tennessee Baptist Convention

Dr. Jack W. Hayford
President, The King’s University Los Angeles

Dr. Richard Land
President, Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission
Southern Baptist Convention

Dr. John Swails
Director, Center for Israel and Middle East Studies
Oral Roberts University

Mark Tooley
President, Institute for Religion and Democracy

Dr. Joseph Umidi
Professor of Practical Theology
Regent University School of Divinity



View the detailed ICEJ Response to the ‘Open Letter’ at: www.icejusa.org/openletter »

ICEJ Response to 'Open Letter' to American Christian Zionists

 ICEJ Response to an 'Open Letter to America’s Christian Zionists’ published by Fuller Seminary’s ‘Just Peacemaking Initiative’ & The New Evangelical Partnership for Common Good

 View Detailed ICEJ Letter & Statement of Response »

 

Left-leaning evangelical scholars have demonized fellow Christians for supporting Israel, in the name of ‘social justice,’ while espousing poor theology and a general disregard for the history and larger context of the Arab-Israeli conflict – according to the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

On September 19, Fuller Theological Seminary’s ‘Just Peacemaking Initiative’ published ‘An Open Letter to America’s Christian Zionists’ by Dr. David P. Gushee of Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology and Fuller’s Dr. Glen H. Stassen. It has subsequently been promoted by the New Evangelical Partnership for Common Good on whose board both professors serve.

“In this document the authors claim, amongst other things, that Christian Zionists are not only sinful but produce sin and will be the cause of any upcoming war against Israel including a nuclear attack by Iran,” said ICEJ Interim Executive Director, Dr. Jürgen Bühler at the launch of the ICEJ’s detailed 4,000 word theological response.

The ICEJ’s USA Director, Susan Michael, who co-authored the ICEJ response emphasized that the initial 'Open Letter' was seriously flawed on multiple counts.

“Not only does it demonstrate a flawed understanding of biblical justice, but a degree of theological inconsistency and historical ignorance that are deeply troubling in professors of such high standing in such respected evangelical institutions.  Their one-sided approach of blaming Israel and her supporters while ignoring the transgressions of the other side will never lead to peace and only feeds injustice and hatred of Israel.”

"Our response is written from the vantage point of being located ‘on the ground’ in Jerusalem from where we have been engaged in the issues raised in this ‘Open Letter’, as well as with the various people groups involved in those issues for over three decades,” added Dr. Bühler.

“Our support for Israel does not mean that we think Israel is perfect, or that we blindly support all of her policies.  But if we want to help bring true justice to the Palestinian people then we need to be honest and admit that their problem is not Israel but their own corrupt leaders who seek the goal of eradicating Israel.”

View the detailed ICEJ Response to the ‘Open Letter’ at: www.icejusa.org/openletter »

Palestinian petition for Statehood at the UN

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem is deeply concerned with the Palestinian Authority’s petition for recognition of a state of Palestine at the United Nations Opening Assembly next week, and especially with the broad international acceptance this reckless and ill-conceived unilateral move is receiving.

While the exact language of the anticipated resolution for statehood is still uncertain, it is clear that the PA has chosen a dangerous path for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and even more so given the volatile political climate in the region. Both the stability of the Middle East and the integrity of the international order are at stake in this looming decision. Neither is worth risking in such a hasty and irresponsible manner, especially since Israel is fully prepared to discuss the very issues at stake directly with the PA in good faith and at any time.

Members of the international community are well aware that the accepted framework for resolving this conflict was set up in UN Security Council resolution 242, which was then expressly adopted as the basis of the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991, the Oslo peace process entered in 1993, and the subsequent Roadmap and Annapolis negotiating formats. The Palestinian leadership agreed to this course for achieving a final peace settlement with Israel only through bilateral talks when they signed on to the Oslo Accords, which specifically prohibits either party from seeking to unilaterally alter the status of the disputed territories in the interim. The United States, European Union, Russia and the UN itself have all witnessed and/or formally adopted these guiding principles and must uphold them now or forfeit important moral and legal standards that define the modern global order.

The Middle East Quartet has demanded that for Hamas to gain a legitimate voice in the search for peace, it must – among other things – respect past agreements signed by the PLO. Yet now, key players within the Quartet itself are prepared to breach their very own pre-condition for being considered part of the circle of peace. By voting for a premature, unilateral Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines, they are trampling on their own reputations for reliability and fairness.

More than 70 nations have been admitted as member states of the UN since the events of June 1967, with some of these nations arising out of very long and bitter conflicts. So gaining UN membership is not that difficult. But it should be made impossible when the bid for membership is actually designed to reignite and prolong a conflict or to eliminate another member state. Sadly, that remains the Palestinian aim at this time.

 


Dr Juergen Buehler serves as ICEJ Interim Executive Director. For more information please contact David Parsons in Jerusalem - or for USA-based media enquries contact Michael Hines or the ICEJ USA office on (615) 895-9830.

Tragedy in Norway

It is with horror that we read the reports of the needless killings in Norway. Even more disturbing is the fact that the assailant apparently described himself as a Christian and supporter of Israel.


To commit acts of evil of this nature in the name of God or any religion is just totally unacceptable and evidence of a deluded mind. Christians who support Israel all over the world and who are related to our great movement, which incorporates more than a hundred countries, condemn this crime in the strongest manner.

To take innocent life in the name of some religious/political agenda is totally abhorrent.
 
The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, together with its  Norwegian Director, Leif Wellerop, and Branch in Norway, join with the Nation of Norway in sorrow and prayer at this very difficult time. We can only trust that the God of Heaven will bring comfort and peace to the families who have lost precious loved ones.

We have yet again called our global movement to prayer and Norway will be in our hearts and minds as we call upon the throne of God to bring real peace to our broken world.
 
 

Malcolm Hedding.
ICEJ Executive Director

New Generation of Leadership Appointed at the ICEJ

 
DR. JUERGEN BUEHLER
APPOINTED INTERIM
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR  
REV. JUHA KETOLA ELECTED CHAIRMAN OF INTERNATIONAL BOARD 

View Full Statement (pdf) »

 

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem announces, with sadness, the decision of Rev. Malcolm Hedding to step down after 10 years as Executive Director of the ministry.

The announcement was first made on May 12th at a gathering of the ICEJ’s worldwide leadership in Jerusalem. Fully endorsed by the International Board of Directors, the decision paved the way for unanimous appointment of Dr. Juergen Buehler to the position of Interim Executive Director.

In a series of anointed meetings with the ICEJ National Directors from around the world, Malcolm testified to the clear leading of God in the timing of this decision and his confidence in the continued success of the ministry under a new generation of leadership. The Conference noted that Malcolm Hedding had served the organization with integrity and honor and leaves behind a remarkable theological, relational and financial legacy.

The ICEJ’s worldwide leadership also had an opportunity to welcome the election of Finland’s National Director Rev. Juha Ketola as Chairman of the International Board, taking over from longstanding ICEJ Chairman and Norwegian Branch Director Leif Wellerop.

“There is obviously considerable sadness at Malcolm’s decision to move on from Jerusalem,” said Dr. Buehler in response to the announcement, “but we are excited to sense the leading of the Lord in his life, and are grateful that he leaves the ministry positioned so well for the future. We wish him and Cheryl every blessing.”

Malcolm will remain closely connected with the work of the ICEJ as a member of the ministry’s international speaking team and as a member of the International Board. He will also be ministering at the upcoming Feast of Tabernacles Celebration in October.

His resignation will take effect on the 31st July 2011.


Profile: Dr Juergen Buehler

After graduating from Ulm University with a degree in physics, Dr. Juergen Buehler moved to Israel with his wife in 1994. Following a five-year research project at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot he obtained his doctorate in chemistry.

Juergen joined the staff of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem in 1999 and presently serves on its Board as the ministry's International Director. Since 2001 he has also been National Director for ICEJ Germany, a position that he still holds.

Juergen was also a founding member of the “Christliches Forum für Israel” (Christian Forum for Israel), a German umbrella group of Christian Zionist organizations.

He is an ordained minister of the German Pentecostal Federation (BfP).  His grasp of biblical theology and his unique insight into issues relating to Israel, the church and the nations have placed him in great demand as a speaker all over the world.

In addition to his other responsibilities, Juergen has remained an active member of the King of Kings Assembly in Jerusalem, and has served on the congregation's board from 1994 to 2010.

He and his wife Vesna live in Jerusalem and have three young sons and a daughter.


FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
David Parsons
– ICEJ Spokesperson (Israel)
Michael Hines
- US Media Director (USA)

Haifa home dedication

On Sunday, 19 September 2010, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem will be honored at a special ceremony in Haifa for funding the country’s largest assisted-living facility solely dedicated to caring for destitute Holocaust survivors, operated by the local charity Yad Ezer L’Haver (Helping Hands to Friends).

The dedication ceremony at the Haifa congress center will feature Israel’s Chief Rabbi (Ashkenazi) Yona Metzger, Yad Vashem chairman Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, Opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni, cabinet ministers Eli Yishai, Moshe Kahlon, Matan Vilnai, Daniel Hershkovitz, Gilad Erdan and Gila Gamliel, Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav, and other Israeli dignitaries.

The Dedication Ceremony is scheduled for Sunday, 19 September 2010, at 7:30 PM in the Haifa International Convention Center. Some 2,000 Holocaust survivors will be in attendance as guests of honor.

Over recent months, the ICEJ has been sponsoring a special project to acquire, renovate and expand an assisted-living facility in Haifa for impoverished Holocaust survivors, which will now be able to accommodate up to 80 residents. The ICEJ has provided funds to purchase a four-storey building and to carry out extensive renovations, allowing approved tenants to begin taking up residence last month.

German Christians affiliated with the ICEJ have been the primary source of funds for this unique project, which is considered by many as a model for Israel in dealing with the growing national problem of poor and needy survivors of the Shoah. An estimated 210,000 Holocaust survivors currently live in Israel, and up to one-third of these are in dire financial straits, often due to exorbitant medical costs.

The new facility will be able to house up to 80 survivors, providing all their lodging, food and medical care for free, with doctors and nurses from area hospitals volunteering to cover their health needs on an around-the-clock basis. The kitchen and dining area also will be able to feed other Holocaust survivors who live in the area on a daily basis.

More than 2,000 applicants, mostly survivors of Nazi death camps in Poland and Germany, signed up on the waiting list for a place to stay in the new facility. A careful selection process identified the most worthy tenants based on need.

The ICEJ’s involvement in this unique humanitarian project is part of its increased focus on reaching out to elderly Holocaust survivors in Israel. The Christian Embassy has been giving new emphasis in recent years on helping to ease their suffering and allowing them to live out their years with dignity, whether through adoption programs, special assistance at holidays, or investment in initiatives like the Yad Ezer facility.

“Through this special project, we are seeking to honor those who have been subjected to unspeakable horrors and evil,” said Rev. Malcolm Hedding, Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.“We can never fully know or understand what they have been through but we can give them hope, love, care and most of all dignity. They give meaning to why a Jewish State is needed and thus they teach us and most of all inspire us by their lives.”

“It is a great privilege for the Christian Embassy, and in particular German Christians, to take up the task of funding and supporting this unique warm home for Holocaust survivors. This gift will never make up for what they suffered. But it does give hope for the present and for the future,” added ICEJ International Director Juergen Buehler, who also heads the Embassy’s branch in Germany. “It has been especially encouraging to witness so many Germans today who are willing to assume responsibility over their own tragic national history.”

Dr. Buehler and the ICEJ AID department are coordinating the Haifa project with Shimon Sabag, founder of Yad Ezer, which also sponsors soup kitchens, home food deliveries, homeless shelters, and a number of other charitable initiatives in the North.

“It is my heart’s desire to give those people who suffered so much some dignity and joy as they live out their last years. Time is running out for them,” said Sabag.

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For more information, please contact:
David Parsons,
ICEJ Media Director
Cell: +972 52 381 6214

Email

 

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