SA church leaders differ widely on Israel

The Old City of Jerusalem. (PHOTO: http://photos8.org)

South African church leaders have made conflicting statements on Israel over the past 10 days, highlighting the widely different positions held by SA Christians on the Holy Land conflict.

A group of church leaders led by Bishop Zipho Siwa, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of South Africa, has called for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. In a statement released on December 8, following a week-long “solidarity” visit to East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the church leaders said they were “traumatised” by what they saw and that they felt like they had walked into “an apartheid ambush” in which Israel was violating international law to oppress Palestinians.

Meanwhile another group of church leaders, together with SA’s chief rabbi, Dr Warren Goldstein, have urged the African National Congress (ANC) to treat Israel fairly and warned that support for BDS strengthens “the forces of extreme violence”. The call was made in an open letter published in the Sunday Times on December 16 as the ANC began its Mangaung leadership conference where it has been speculated that it could adopt a BDS resolution against Israel. Recent anti-Israel action by the SA government includes moves requiring products from areas of Israel to be labelled as originating from “Occupied Palestinian Territory”,  and an endorsement of BDS by former Deputy President and current ANC Chairperson Baleka Mbete at a recent international conference in South Africa.

Pro-sanctions group
The statement by the pro-sanctions church leaders was signed by Bishop Zipho Siwa, the Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of South Africa; Dr Jerry Pillay, General Secretary of the Uniting Presbyterian Church in Southern Africa and President of the World Communion of Reformed Churches; Reverend Moss Nthla, Secretary General of The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa and Chairperson of Kairos Southern Africa; Dr Braam Hanekom, Deputy Moderator of the Dutch Reformed Church; Ms Nonhlanhla Shezi, President of the Anglican Youth of Southern Africa; Ms Theresa Ramphomane, Coordinator of the SACC Women’s Ecumenical Conference;  Ms Nobuntu Madwe, General President of the Women’s Manyano (Union) of the Methodist Church of South Africa; Father Michael Deeb, coordinator of the Justice and Peace Department of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference;  Father Zweli Tom, Anglican Priest and Secretary General of the Nelson Mandela Bay Consultation of Christian Churches; Ms Nonqaba Esther Dlula, Eastern Cape Anglican Church; Dr Stiaan van der Merwe, Kairos Southern Africa; and Ms Marthie Momberg, Kairos Southern Africa.

Anti-sanctions group
The anti-sanctions open letter to the ANC is signed by Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, president of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference and co-chairman of National Religious Leaders Council; Pastor Ray McCauley, president of the International Federation of Christian Churches and co-chairman of the National Religious Leaders Council; Inkosi Vukile Jehovushilo Shembe, of the Nazareth Baptist Church; Professor Nelus Niemandt, moderator of the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church; Dr Izak Burger, president of the Apostolic Faith Mission; Pastor Mosa Sono, of the Grace Bible Church; Bishop Stephen B. Zondo, of the Church of Rivers of Living Waters; and Chief Rabbi of South Africa Dr Warren Goldstein.

“South Africa has no just cause for choosing sides,” the letter reads. “We should support both sides in their struggle for a peaceful solution.”

“When South Africa’s ruling party chooses sides in this bitter conflict, our country loses the credibility to be a voice for peace between the parties, and only the agenda of conflict is served. Such actions impede a peaceful solution that would enable Jews to live in their ancient Biblical land in peace side by side with their Muslim neighbors.

5 Comments

  1. I fullysupport the decissions of Israel in there building project. Truly the land belongs to them legitabily. They legally belong on that piece of land. It is God given.

  2. I cannot believe what I read! How on earth, how, in all that any true believer stands for – can ANYONE who believes in God, in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, indeed in the Trinity – even THINK of coming against Israel??? Where are your heads people??? In coming against Israel you are coming against Precious Father God’s chosen people. You may as well be coming AGAINST GOD Himself!!! What foolishness – what unbridled stupidity! The arrogance of mankind to believe that we can solve issues without God’s input is utterly shameful! And then you wonder why God appears to not answer your prayers? Which Bible have you been reading from? I gather of course that you DO know that there is such a book called the Holy Bible? It just seems to me that anyone utterly crazy enough to go against God by bringing sanctions on His People is either in desperate need of psychiatric evaluation or has actually never even read the Bible, despite their claims to be pastors and reverands and rabbi’s and whoever.

    Is it any wonder that God is taking so long to send Jesus back to us? Who would there be for Him to take with Him to heaven? With attitudes like this we can expect Precious Father God to keep Jesus at His Right Hand for another thousand years at least – and give Satan the victory that he is using YOU to get.

    I’m shocked, stunned and not a little amazed. Truly. No wonder I don’t fit into most churches.

    “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes” (Psalm 118:9).

  3. Graham, I agree. Remember though, there are more of those who are for us than those who are against us. Let the evil one roar like a hungry lion. He has lost the battle. Well written by the way.

    • Thanks Stu – I get riled when the people that Father wants us to love turn out to be such idiots – but we love them anyway…

      I wholeheartedly agree that there are more for us than against us – I just wish they would stand up and be counted. If we were deemed ready by the Godhead to be ready for Jesus’ return, I’m sure He would come… but we’re not and self-gratifying attitudes like this make it almost a given certainty that we never will be. Mind you, there were the evil fraternity that crucified Jesus 2000 years ago – and they’re still crucifying Him. I for one CANNOT WAIT to see Satan get his just rewards – oh! How I long for that day!!!

  4. God’s Chosen?

    A little ‘study’ on who God’s chosen people are:

    Rom 9:6 For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
    Rom 9:7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children. They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God.

    Of the unbelieving Jew, Jesus had this to say…
    ‘Joh 8:41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
    Joh 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
    Joh 8:43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
    Joh 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
    Joh 8:45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
    Joh 8:47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

    Rom 9:6 For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:
    Rom 9:7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
    Rom 9:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

    Rom 11:2 God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.

    Joh 8:39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
    Joh 8:40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
    Joh 8:41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
    Joh 8:42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.

    Remarks: In conclusion, God had and has an everlasting covenant with the spiritual Israel, not the physical Israel – those who are born again of the Spirit.

    2Ti 2:19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.

    We ought to reach out to both the Jew and the Palestinian for there is ‘neither Jew nor gentile’ in God’s unbaised love for all mankind and if a nation, including Israel is not doing justice to another, we shoul call it for what it is, unjust.

    I do not know the politics surrounding what Israel is doing to Palestine, the border and land dispute. However, if it is unjust, then i will not side with her in this instance.