Friday, June 24, 2011
Beyond Belief: Political Propaganda in the Anglican Church.
A while ago, Elder of Ziyon published an article well worth a re-read in which he explained why these commonly found maps are both inaccurate and deliberately misleading.
Commonly found they indeed are, but I for one did not realise just how broad their spread has been on the internet until I decided to try to find their origins. These maps, usually entitled “Palestinian loss of land 1946 – 2000″ get 2,800,000 search results on Google. They appear on neo-Nazi forums (to which I will not link), on the English language website of Hamas’ Izz a Din al Qassam brigades, on the sites of various ‘peace campaigners’ such as ‘Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel‘ and on some new-age hippy sites. They can be found on Greek, Swedish, Irish and Malaysian sites among others and are promoted by Canadian 9/11 ‘truthers’ and the Evangelical Lutherian Church in America. They are advertised for sale on the internet in post-card form by both ‘Friends of Sabeel North America’ and the Ann Arbour Quakers.They also appear on this Palestinian website where they are accredited to the University of Bethlehem with a 2006 copyright date. So, is the University of Bethlehem their point of origin? That seems unlikely because on the ‘Friends of Sabeel UK’ website, where the maps are also used, they are accredited to one Tim Biles and said to be taken from his book “A Puppy Dies: And Other Stories from the Holy Land”. The book was published in 2003 and that was the earliest reference I was able to find to these maps.
So who is Tim Biles? Well, actually his full title is the Reverend Canon Timothy Biles and he’s a retired Anglican vicar from Dorset. He still does a bit of preaching, such as this recent sermon in which he manages to display some of his prejudices by inserting his own politically hued interpretations into the New Testament story of the Good Samaritan.
“The Samaritans of the story lived – then, and now – in a wild and rugged patch of mountainous land sandwiched between Galilee in the north and Jerusalem in the south. The Jews wanted that land so that they could make the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem for the Festivals without let or hindrance. The Samaritans barred the way.”
Of course nowhere in Luke chapter 10, verses 25 to 37 is any reference whatsoever made to Jews trying to gain control of Samaritan land, but Tim Biles exploits his position as a trusted member of the clergy in order to introduce to his listeners the idea that the Samaritans in the story are the equivalent of today’s Palestinians and that the self-interested Jews were intent on ‘land-grabbing’ even back then.
This very subtly imparted promotional message is indicative of something that goes on a lot in various churches these days; a type of subliminal advertising which establishes concepts in the minds of an audience convinced that their source is beyond reproach by virtue of the clerical robes worn by the promoter. The somewhat unspiritual intent behind it is actually the promotion of a specific narrative surrounding the political situation in the Middle East.
Tim Biles also acts as editor and consultant for an Anglican Church newsletter produced by the UK charity the Jerusalem and the Middle East Church Association. There, among the news items, he promotes various writers on the subject of the Arab-Israeli conflict such as the far- Left activist and founder of ‘Gush Shalom’ Uri Avneri and Rabbis Howard Cooper and Marc H Ellis – both known for their anti-Zionism. In this issue, a book by Sabeel’s supercessionist leader Naim Ateek is reviewed by the veteran anti-Israel campaigner and Anglican vicar Stephen Sizer. In this edition, former British diplomat and member of The Council for Arab British Understanding (CAABU) Sir Howard Walker promotes the notion that “Washington seems to be in perpetual thrall to the Zionist lobby” and there is a feature on Garth Hewitt and the Amos Trust which promotes both the Kairos Palestine Document (which provides pseudo-religious justification for boycotts of Israel) and the ‘Just Peace’ campaign which is co-ordinated by anti-Israel activist Ben White.
British readers may recall that in December 2009 The Amos Trust, together with CAABU, ‘Jews for Boycotting Israeli Goods’, the ‘International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network’ and ‘War on Want’ organised an ‘alternative’ Christmas carol service at a church in Covent Garden, London, which featured re-written versions of traditional songs.
The chorus to “The Holly and the Ivy” for example, became:
O the rampaging of settlers
And the rolling of the tanks;
The grinding of the bulldozers
As olives fall in ranks.
“Once in Royal David’s city” was re-written as follows:
Once in royal David’s city
Stood a big apartheid wall;
People entering and leaving
Had to pass a checkpoint hall.
Bethlehem was strangulated,
And her children segregated.
Though this city is a symbol
To the world of peace and love,
Concrete walls have closed around her,
Settlements expand above.
And apartheid Israel stands
All around on stolen lands
Predictably, a message of support for the event was sent by the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem which helps bring us to the unpleasant conclusion that quite a few members of the Anglican Church are involved in the spread of the assault on Israel’s legitimacy.
Tim Biles may or may not have drawn up those fake maps himself, or he may have acquired them elsewhere. Whatever the case, according to Friends of Sabeel UK they apparently appear in his now out of print book. I have found no evidence of Biles having corrected FOSUK’s accreditation or of any objection on his part to being associated with what is blatant anti-Israel propaganda. Had he wished to do so, the task would not have been difficult; FOSUK’s officials include more than one prominent member of the Anglican Church. Neither is any evidence to be found of the Church disassociating itself from Biles as a result of the use of fake maps; in fact it continues to allow him to engage in partisan editing of newsletters and preach in its establishments. The Salisbury Diocese’s own Sarum College held a book launch for Biles’ latest literary work only last year.
Obviously, the Anglican Church of the United Kingdom, with Her Majesty the Queen at its head, is not immune to the influences of the kind of political extremists who have also led the British Methodists and Quakers down the slippery slope of singling out the Jewish state as a unique target for unprecedented hostility and campaigns of exclusion. It is sad to see yet another once respected religious institution harbouring at the very heart of its establishment extremists who make cynical use of lies and dishonest propaganda such as the above maps, among other things, in order to propagate and spread a very ancient form of hatred.
The Church, of all institutions, and in particular given its own past history of which we have had a sombre reminder in recent days, should know better.
‘Friends of Sabeel UK’ : promoting BDS and harming interfaith relations. (cifwatch.com)
The Great Methodist BDS Hijack (cifwatch.com)
Traitors, dupes, and double standards: Another chapter in the Guardian’s campaign against Israel (cifwatch.com)
Lessons from the York Pogrom of 1190 (cifwatch.com)