Let’s give Justin a break. He’s had a rough year.
If you are known by your enemies, the Archbishop of Canterbury has moved up a few notches in my estimation. Badgered by the left and right within the Anglican world, under fire for his conduct in the George Bell affair, mocked for his forays into identity politics — the Most Rev. Justin Welby is now under fire from a pro-Hamas group for being a closet Zionist.
The intensity of debate within the Anglican world has been rising year after year, such that we treat our opponents as Amalekites to be smote, hip and thigh. I have heaped my share of burning coals on the archbishop’s head, criticizing him on Anglican Unscripted for decisions and actions he has taken, but there does come a point when one must say “no mas”.
The enemy of my enemy is not my friend.
The Pro-Hamas NGO Middle East Monitor published an article on 6 Feb 2018 entitled “Head of Anglican Church gives Zionist group grant”. The lede for the article begins with an argument and moves to an accusation:
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has given grants to an interfaith group accused by critics of being a pro-Israeli, Zionist organisation.
The head of the Anglican Church gave funds to the Council of Christian and Jews (CCJ) for the purpose of organising trips to Israel and the occupied territories.
The article cites the CCJ, noting they were: “delighted to have received a grant from Justin Welby’s discretionary fund to support our vital interfaith work between Christians and Jews”.
The article then informs the readers why this is a bad thing.
Critics accused Welby of “siding with the oppressor” after alleging that the CCJ is a pro-Israeli, Zionist organisation.
And then a senior but anonymous Anglican vicar offers his view:
A senior member of the Anglican Church and a former vicar told MEMO that the CCJ is another Zionist organisation. Speaking on condition of anonymity, he explained that the organisation was in fact a “Council of Christians FOR Jews in reality”.
Denouncing the CCJ over its claim that it works towards Christian-Jewish harmony, he said that “they never criticise Israel or defend Palestinian Christians”, before accusing his former boss of “siding with the oppressor” and suppressing criticism of Zionism.
Innuendo and non sequiturs are then offered as evidence:
The nature of CCJ’s work has come under suspicion in light of the persecution of Palestinian Christians by Israel. Last month Connecticut church’s interfaith group was detained by Israel for holding Palestine flag.
The tired canard that Israel is responsible for the flight of Christians from Gaza and the West Bank is repeated, (funny how they left when the Palestinian Authority took over) while the article closes with an editorial voice that accused the CCJ of
The CCJ does not appear to share the concerns of Christians that are living under the brutality of Israeli occupation. Critics say that the organisation works to soften the image of Israel’s occupation in eyes of the British people.
As journalism this is garbage. It begins with an assumption that supporting interfaith work between Christian and Jews is a moral evil, and a stalking horse for Zionism — which is also a moral evil. The archbishop’s charitable support for a long-established and lawful charity is twisted by a warped mind into an evil act.
An anonymous vicar is then trotted out to spew nasty unverifiable sentiments. There are a handful of anti-Semitic clergy in the Church of England, and other Anglican churches and many more among the lunatic fringe in the US, known for their loopy statements and unsavory affiliations. The impact of these statements is null, however, because it is just as likely the quotes are made to suit the article.
On its website, Middle East Monitor states its
readers enjoy up-to-date reporting, through our network of contributors, we also publish carefully reasoned commentaries rooted in factual evidence. We are also an essential point of reference for journalists, researchers, human rights organisations and NGOs.
Who then is likely to be persuaded by this trash? Those predisposed to dislike Justin Welby over other issues are more likely to come to his defense over this nonsense. Criticize the archbishop’s actions. Question his assumptions — but please protect him from the kooks and pray for him.