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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

Arab sector survey

The results of a pioneering nationwide survey funded by the International Christianity Embassy Jerusalem and commissioned by the Forum of Social Services Directors for the Arab Community were released last week identifying the most pressing social needs and funding priorities among Israel’s Arab minority. Considered the most comprehensive study ever conducted of Arab sector welfare bureaus, the results will be used to guide Israeli authorities in targeting the most critical problems revealed by the survey: social workers overburdened by case loads involving large families, and not enough specialists in handling at-risk children.

Now 20% of Israel’s population, the Arab sector is well ahead of most Arab populations in the region in terms of economic development and well-being. Yet there are still many daunting challenges within the Israeli Arab community, which lags well behind the national averages according to most economic indicators. This gap is growing again due to the increasing number of large Arab families with low wage-earners and multiple children.

Carmi Ashboren, a consultant for several non-profit agencies combating social ills like poverty and domestic violence, approached the ICEJ AID department last year on behalf of the Forum with a request for funding of the ground-breaking survey of Arab social needs.

“There were prior surveys done of the Arab sector, but their conclusions were never adopted by the government,” said Ashboren. “This time, the Ministry of Social Welfare has commented positively on the findings and is much more likely to use the results. New minister Moshe Kahlon (Likud) is also receptive to the survey’s findings.”

“We were extremely pleased to fund this first systematic study of the welfare needs of Israeli Arab society,” added Rev. Malcolm Hedding, Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy. “It is also our hope that the results will be used effectively to lift many deserving families out of poverty and its ill effects, while also demonstrating Israel’s credentials as a fair and just society.”

The Forum is an umbrella organization set up in 2003 to coordinate efforts among directors of welfare departments in the 75 Arab-run municipalities throughout Israel. Working in unison, the Forum has managed to secure increased expenditures for the Arab sector from the annual state budget in recent years. But this has failed to keep pace with the growing numbers of large families in need of social welfare services. In addition, municipal sources of funding – which by law account for one-quarter of social welfare budgets – have been cut due to the global financial downturn. This in turn reduces the state’s 75% share, as it is based on matching funds.

“Due to severe pressures, most welfare departments devote their time and resources to extinguishing fires, rather than on planning and activities which can prevent them,” explained Emile Sema'an, chairman of the Forum and the head social worker in the mixed Druze-Christian town of Peqi’in. “This problem is even greater in the Arab sector since most of the population falls within a low socio-economic category.”

Using a NIS 115,000 grant from the ICEJ, the Forum commissioned the Massar Institute for Social Research, Planning and Consultation, assisted by a team of researchers from the (non-profit) Organization for Equal Opportunities, to conduct the comprehensive survey with the aim of pinpointing the most glaring deficiencies and recommending solutions. Social welfare managers in twenty of the 75 Arab-majority municipalities took part in the extensive interview process concerning current practices and needs. The results have been compiled in an 85-page report that has been sent to all social welfare departments in the country.

Ashboren is confident the study will lead to increased resources and enhanced performance for the Arab sector and applauded the Forum for deciding to conduct it. “The Forum does not focus on protests and complaining, but has a professional approach for constructive action in close cooperation with governmental authorities, local and national, with proven success” noted Ashboren.

The main findings of the survey include:
  1. Most managers of Arab welfare departments are saddled with too much daily case work themselves to engage in proper planning, budgeting and administrative duties.
  2. Half the Arab welfare departments have no case workers trained in the field of at-risk children, which is the most urgent problem area in the Arab sector.
  3. Over 30% of the households in Arab communities are in need of social assistance, rising to 50% of households in four municipalities.
  4. The two main types of social aid recipients were at-risk children (37%), and individuals living in poverty (20.5%).
  5. The social problems that have steadily grown over the past five years are poverty, unemployment and violence.
  6. Lack of manpower, specialized training and budgets are the major obstacles to the adequate handling of most of these social problems.
  7. Social workers in the Jewish sector handle 43% fewer cases on average than in the Arab sector, with the average size of assisted Jewish families standing at 3.5 persons in 2008, as against 4.8 in the Arab sector.
  8. During the years 2007-2009, some 252 new social worker positions were added nationwide, of which 42% went to the Arab sector. This slightly reduced the gap in case loads per social worker, but more are still needed.

Among the primary recommendations are:
  1. A mechanism to guarantee a more equitable sharing of case loads between welfare departments in the Jewish and Arab sectors, taking into account family sizes.
  2. A more equitable formula for allocating budgets.
  3. More training programs for Arab social workers, including in specialized fields like at-risk children, which is the most prominent social problem in the Arab communities.
A non-partisan organization serving all Muslim, Christian and Druze communities in Israel, the Forum will now seek official approval for implementing the survey’s recommendations while also working in partnership with private charities to promote social services nationwide from a systemic perspective.
 

********************************************
For more information, contact the following:
For more information, please contact:
David Parsons,
ICEJ Media Director
Cell: +972 52 381 6214
Carmi Ashboren,
NGO Consultant
Cell: 050-7630636
E-mail
Emile Sema'an,
Forum chairman
Cell: 050-3133766
E-mail
Kher Elbaz,
Segev Shalom welfare director
Cell: 050-5605819

While they were sleeping

JERUSALEM - The world has been gripped in recent days by news of the earthquake and tsunami that have devastated the eastern seaboard of Japan. And while the thoughts and prayers of Christians around the world have been focused on the dire needs of the Japanese people - other headlines have passed us by.

On the evening of Friday March 11th, at a time when most of the world was first beginning to recognize the severity of the events unfolding in Japan, a group of Palestinian terrorists crept into the Jewish town of Itamar in northern Samaria and stabbed five members of the same family to death.

According to Israeli news reports, the killings occurred shortly after 10pm when the terrorists broke into the home of Ruth and Udi Fogel, aged 35 and 36, respectively. The attackers went from room to room, stabbing the parents, before slitting the throats of their 11 year-old son Yoav, his 4 year-old brother Eldad, and their 3 month-old baby sister Hadas. Miraculously two other young children were spared, as they lay sleeping on the couch, presumably unnoticed by the killers. The victim's blood-soaked bodies were found by their 12 year-old sister as she returned from a youth group meeting in the village later that night. 

"They say Eretz Yisrael is acquired through pain and suffering," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the grieving family of the victims on Sunday. "But we didn't think the pain and suffering would be so great."

And yet the pain and suffering of which the Israeli Prime Minister spoke has only been intensified in recent days as media networks across the world have sought to 'explain' the killings as part of a 'cycle of violence' caused by the decision of the Israeli government to temporarily allow the building of new homes within existing West Bank Jewish communities.[1]  

Once again the heart-breaking story of a family slain in their beds has been buried under the political agenda of news editors. Many headlines simply treated the victims as anonymous "Jewish settlers" dehumanizing the Fogel family with accompanying pictures of Israeli soldiers carrying machine guns - as if to suggest that the real villain in the tragedy was Israel itself.[2]

Some went even further. The Los Angeles Times blamed the settlements as the "provocation that led to [the murders] in the first place,"[3] whilst CNN and the BBC both cast doubt on the fact that Palestinian terrorists were to blame despite a clearly-issued claim of responsibility by the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade - the military wing of the Palestinian Authority's governing Fatah party. [4]

"Only you decided to use the term terrorist attack in quotation marks, as if this were not necessarily the case," Oren Helman of the Israeli Government Press Office wrote to CNN. "There is a limit to the extent of objectivity regarding such a horrific deed." [5]

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem condemns in the strongest possible terms the persistent attitude of the international media that seeks to dehumanize the Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism and blame their deaths on the policies of the Israeli government rather than the culture of jihad and incitement that fills the schools, mosques and state-run media throughout the Palestinian territories.

The ICEJ also calls on Christians to stand against the creeping demonization of the State of Israel that is gathering momentum throughout the nations of the world; a demonization that denies the Jewish people's historic and legal right to live in their historic homeland and seeks to equate Israeli actions of self-defense with murderous atrocities such as the killing of the Fogel family in Itamar on Friday.

Rev. Malcolm Hedding serves as the Executive Director of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem -an evangelical ministry headquartered in Jerusalem that stands at the forefront of a worldwide movement of Christians who support Israel.  For 30 years the ICEJ has funded social and humanitarian projects that have helped every community and people group in the land of Israel.

Notes

[1] For a more detailed treatment of media responses to the Itamar killings see Honest Reporting Media Critique: 'Baby Killers: BBC Butchers the Real Story' (March 13, 2011 - www.honestreporting.com)   

[2] New York Times: 'Suspecting Palestinians, Israeli Military Hunts for Killers of 5 West Bank Settlers' (March 12, 2011)

Washington Post: 'Israeli troops scour West Bank villages for killers of 5 Jewish settlers' (March 13, 2011)

[3] Los Angeles Times: A fatal Israeli-Palestinian flaw (Editorial, March 14, 2011)

[4] CNN: Israeli family of 5 killed in 'terror attack,' military says' (March 12, 2011);  BBC: 'Palestinian' kills 5 Israelis in West Bank (March 12, 2011)

[5] Ynet News: 'Israel demands CNN apology over attack coverage' (March 13, 2011)

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For more information: 
David Parsons, ICEJ +972-52-381-6214

ICEJ Caring for Sudanese Refugees

The International Christian Embassy Jerusalem on Sunday assumed responsibility over a group of 37 Sudanese refugees (18 children, 19 adults) who had entered Israel near Eilat over the weekend to reach what they described as "safety" and "freedom." 

Israeli humanitarian authorities approached the ICEJ on Friday with an urgent request to take care of the Sudanese refugees after they arrived from Egypt overnight with assistance from local Bedouins. The Christian Embassy agreed and placed them Sunday in the Imperial Hotel inside Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem for the next three weeks, until they can be processed and absorbed into Israeli kibbutzim and moshavim. 

The group consists of 10 Sudanese families who have fled the genocide and ethnic cleansing campaign of the Khartoum government. Two families are Muslims from Darfur, while the remainder are Christians from south Sudan. Seven of the children are under two years of age, and two women in the group are pregnant. 

"These destitute Sudanese refugees told us today that they came to Israel because here their human rights can be respected and they will be free from danger," said ICEJ executive director Malcolm Hedding. "We were happy to assist the state of Israel by caring for them at this time." 

The refugees spoke of not only the violence and atrocities they faced in Sudan, but added that they were mistreated in Egypt, with some beaten on the streets and imprisoned under harsh conditions. 

"It is remarkable that while some highly educated British academics consider Israel a racist and immoral country, these simple Sudanese refugees seem to know better," noted Hedding. "Israel has a reputation among them as a place of freedom, safety and decency. Since more Sudanese are likely to come, our ministry is gearing up to help Israel be a 'light to the nations' in caring for them." 

"The Sudanese question is one that begs for greater global participation in order to help those suffering in Sudan from Islamic radicalism and genocide," concluded Hedding." 

UNHCR officials are expected to visit the group of 37 Sudanese refugees in the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday and verify their refugee status under an international genocide treaty. 

An increasing number of Sudanese refugees fleeing Darfur and other conflict zones have been entering Israel through Egypt in recent weeks. Due to their UN refugee status, Israel is obligated to care for them. The Jewish state also feels a moral obligation to aid and assist victims of the genocide campaign in Sudan due to the unique tragedy of the Holocaust. 

Israeli authorities approached the ICEJ to assist with this group of Sudanese because the Christian Embassy was already preparing to launch a new aid relief project to help Israel handle this influx of refugees.

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For more information: 
David Parsons, ICEJ 052-381-6214;  OR 
Dani Wassner, Ruder Finn Israel, 054-467-6961; 

If you would like to make a donation, please click here and mark your gift as "Operation Hope: Help Sudanese Refugees in Israel." 
 

ICEJ-Norway rally demands Oslo government seek Schalit’s release

On Sunday, 14 June 2009, the Norway branch of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem held a mass rally attended by 4,000 Christians which called upon the Government of Norway and the International Red Cross to redouble their efforts to secure the release of captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit from Hamas and his other abductors.

In an appeal delivered to a Norwegian representative of the Red Cross and the Government of Norway, the ICEJ rally noted that Prime Minister Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre have opened contacts with Hamas, placing a special responsibility on them to seek Schalit’s release. The appeal letter also noted that Norway currently chairs the forum of donor nations to the Palestinians and thus should also use its leverage in that capacity to free Schalit, now held hostage for 1086 days.

The rally was held in the amphitheatre of the Kongeparken family park outside Stavanger and drew 4,000 Christians from all over Norway. The Israeli ambassador Michael Eligal was the guest of honor.

“This was the largest pro-Israel rally ever held in Norway, and we’re hopeful it will spur our government leaders to renew their efforts to free Gilad Schalit. They are in a unique position to do so and have a special duty to pursue this humanitarian mission,” said Leif Wellerop, Chairman of ICEJ-Norway.

During the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead in January, the ICEJ-Norway branch also held a large pro-Israel rally at the Parliament building in Oslo, and were attacked by pro-Palestinian protestors.

An English translation of the rally appeal letter follows below:

 

Appeal on behalf of captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit
Delivered to the Government of Norway
and
The Norwegian Chapter of the International Red Cross
Sunday, 14 June 2009

It is as of today 1085 days since the young IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped on Israeli territory by Hamas. He has been 1085 days without contact with his family; 1085 days in which the International Red Cross has been denied access to his prison; 1085 days of insecurity, not knowing his conditions as a prisoner of Hamas.

The Norwegian Government, under Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre, has given their recognition to the terrorist organization Hamas. This brings a particular responsibility upon the Norwegian Government to address the violation of international law concerning the treatment of Gilad Shalit, in that it should insist that Hamas respect international conventions regarding the treatment of prisoners in uniform.

Hamas has terrorized southern Israel for many years with thousands of Kassam rockets and mortars, solely aimed at the civilian population. Hamas is holding Gilad Shalit captive to blackmail the Government of Israel. We challenge the international community not to comply with this strategy. Furthermore, we urge the Palestinian donor nations’ forum, currently chaired by Norway, to use their influence as a means to gain access to Gilad Shalit for the International Red Cross and to secure his release.

On 16 December 2008, Gilad Shalit was declared an honorary citizen of Paris. He holds dual French and Israeli citizenship. We ask the Norwegian Government to contact French authorities and make a joint effort to get Hamas to apply with the Geneva Convention of 1949 concerning the treatment of prisoners.

We encourage the International Red Cross not to give up, but to strengthen and redouble their efforts to work hard and tirelessly to gain access to Gilad Shalit, and to contribute in raising international awareness on his situation in every contact with Hamas. In the words of Jacob Kellenberger, President of the International Red Cross in Geneva: “Every prisoner has the right at least to let their families know they are alive.”

We demand that Hamas immediately give the Red Cross access to Gilad Shalit, and give him the opportunity to communicate with his family.

Wherever Gilad Shalit may be, we promise never to forget him nor rest until he is free.

ICEJ-Norway
Leif Wellerop, Chairman
Kongeparken, Ålgård
Norway

 

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