by Mark Tooley, Frontpagemag.com
The Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC) has yet really to condemn the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia 35 years ago. Or the Marxist orchestrated famine in Ethiopia that killed almost as many during the 1980s. It never directly condemned the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Saddam Hussein’s hundreds of thousands of murdered victims also failed to arouse the WCC’s concern across 25 years. Nor has the multitude of crimes by Iran’s theocracy across 30 years interested the WCC. North Korea’s slave state for the WCC is a place of pilgrimage but not criticism. Even North Korea’s recent unprovoked torpedoing of a South Korean ship, killing 46 sailors three months ago, has not caused the WCC to peep.
But the WCC needed less than 24 hours to condemn Israel’s “deplorable” interception of a “peace” flotilla trying to bust the blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza. The 9 anti-Israel “peace” activists killed after the Israelis were resisted with metal poles and other weapons, were apparently more sacred to the WCC than the millions of victims slain by communism, Islamists and other anti-Western tyrannies over the last 4 decades.
“It is with great distress that the World Council of Churches received the news that the Israeli naval forces stormed a Gaza-bound vessel carrying humanitarian aid in international waters before dawn on Monday, killing at least 10 civilians and injuring many more,” immediately bemoaned WCC chief Olav Fykse Tveit. A Norwegian Lutheran theologian, Tveit seems steadfastly committed to the WCC tradition of bashing only Israel and America. “We condemn the assault and killing of innocent people who were attempting to deliver humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza, who have been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007.”
Why has Gaza been blockaded by Israel, and, though unmentioned by the WCC, also by Egypt? Could its rocket-firing Hamas regime be part of the explanation? The WCC is not interested in such details. “We further condemn the flagrant violation of international law by Israel in attacking and boarding a humanitarian convoy in international waters,” Tveit continued. “We pray for all those who are affected by the attack, especially the bereaved families.”
Tveit demanded Israel repatriate all of the flotilla’s activists, release the impounded ships and, naturally, end the blockade of Gaza. He also wants a “full” United Nations investigation into Israel’s “assault.” For that, Tveit almost certainly will get his wish. He concluded: “The deplorable events which occurred yesterday off the coast of Gaza remind us yet again of the pressing need for an end to the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories.” But of course, Gaza is not Israeli occupied. It is governed by its Islamist “liberators,” Hamas. And most of the West Bank is governed by the Palestinian Authority. It’s never entirely clear what the Religious Left means by “occupation.” But certainly it ignores the considerable problems created by Gaza’s and most of the West Bank’s ostensible liberation from direct Israeli control.
The WCC’s major U.S. member, the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., also chimed in quickly over the Gaza flotilla in slightly more measured tones. “A severe blockade of Gaza by Israel in response to the free election of Hamas representatives in 2006 and the military incursions of Operation Cast Lead in late 2008 and early 2009 have dramatically increased the already acute humanitarian need,” surmised the church’s Stated Clerk, Gradye Parsons. “We grieve the killing and injuring of participants in the humanitarian effort, as well as the injuring of members of the Israeli military forces that occurred when the Israeli forces stormed one of the ships and those on board resisted.”
Parsons noted that the Presbyterian tradition is “not strictly pacifist,” which is surely an understatement, but “honors peaceful resistance, including nonviolent disobedience to unjust government policies and actions.” He opined that the flotilla could have been a “powerful” instrument for peaceful resistance. And he warned, “These actions sometimes incite violent responses,” but the “long-term success of this kind of resistance requires a nonviolent response on the part of the demonstrators, even when they are under attack.” Parsons sounds like a Presbyterian Gandhi.
Meanwhile, Jerusalem-based Sabeel, a center for Palestinian Liberation Theology with Western affiliates, including Friend of Sabeel – North America, has quickly issued a prayer litany of solidarity with the failed Gaza flotilla. “The Israeli attack on the Gaza Flotilla resulted in numerous deaths, dozens of injuries, and hundreds of arrests,” Sabeel bewailed. “Almighty God, comfort the bereaved, heal the injured, and grant freedom to the prisoners. We pray that you will strengthen each of us to do what is necessary to end the siege on Gaza. Help us to recognize and to fight the structures of oppression, wherever we may encounter them.”
Do these “structures of oppression” include the Hamas regime in Gaza, or its chief patrons, the Islamist theocrats who tyrannize Iran? If so, Religious Left groups in the West, who are Sabeel’s main patrons, will not say so audibly. Maybe the WCC is praying quietly, very quietly, for Hamas’s victims. These silent prayers are perhaps similar to the inaudible prayers that the WCC and the rest of the international Religious Left may have lifted up for so many otherwise unacknowledged victims of tyranny and oppression over the last 40 years. Apparently only Israel’s and America’s victims can benefit from the Religious Left’s very loud prayers.
Mark Tooley is President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and author of “Taking Back the United Methodist Church.”