Author Topic: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile  (Read 5577 times)

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Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile
« on: February 14, 2006, 02:14:45 PM »
Dhimmi, Get Behind Me
by Dexter Van Zile

Copyright 2006 ALPB

Munib Younan, the Lutheran Bishop in Jerusalem, sure picked an interesting time to condemn inflammatory cartoons that mock people's religious beliefs. Younan, who has offered, little, if any, condemnation of newspapers in the disputed territories that have published images portraying Israel as a baby-killing and Christ-killing nation, finally found his prophetic voice on this issue when it was Muslim, not Jewish or Christian sensibilities that were offended by the recent publication of cartoons mocking Mohamed in newspapers throughout Europe.

In an article posted at thelutheran.org on Feb. 9, 2006, Bishop Younan warned Westerners to tread lightly when responding to Muslim protesters who have burnt Danish flags or engaged in other violent acts to express their displeasure over the cartoons.

“Are we really losing our civility to such a degree that we are incapable of rational discourse and can only resort to violence and desecration of sacred symbols, prophets, writings and places?" he said, subsequently adding that it is time for Christians and Muslims to “create a code of ethics by which religions and nations should [handle] religious differences.”

Notwithstanding the Bishop's attempt to equate the burning of embassies with the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammed in an offensive manner, Bishop Younan's statements would have more credibility if he had spoken publicly about the persistent demonization of Jews, Israel and the United States in papers throughout the Middle East, oftentimes through the desecration of Christian and Jewish imagery.

One representative – but hardly unique – cartoon, published in Dec. 2001, depicts a Palestinian woman pierced by American and Israeli arrows as she hung from a cross. Jews wearing yarmulkes stand excitedly at the foot of the cross as blood from the woman's chest spurts down on them. Another cartoon depicts a cross in the place of a gun barrel sticking out the turret of an American tank. At the UN’s anti-racism conference that morphed into a festival of Jew-hatred in Durban in 2001, the League of Arab lawyers distributed leaflets equating the Star of David with the Nazi Swastika. These images are only a sample of the flood of anti-Semitic imagery in which the Middle East is awash.

Why has Bishop Younan waited until Muslim sensibilities were injured before speaking out against offending people of faith?

In a word, the Bishop is a dhimmi.

Historically, Jews and Christians who insisted on adhering to their faith and not converting to Islam after the conquest by Muslim rulers during both the Arab and Turkish waves of Islamic expansionism were subject to a “dhimma” or “treaty of protection.” Under this treaty, non-Muslims were allowed to remain Christian or Jew, but only if they paid a poll tax, or jizya, and agreed to live under a series of laws explicitly designed to humiliate them and underscore their status as subject peoples. People who live under these terms are dhimmis.

For example, in some countries, Jews and Christians were historically not allowed to ride horses, wear shoes or turbans and their testimony could not be used to convict a Muslim in a court of law. To be sure, dhimmis were treated better in some countries than others and in some instances they rose to positions of influence (especially in the aftermath of Islamic conquest, when Muslim rulers needed the help of skilled administrators). And yes, Jews under Muslim rule often fared better than they did under Christianity, but one fact is undeniable: In those places where Islam was dominant, Jews and Christians in the Middle East were second class non-citizens who enjoyed no rights, only privileges that could be withdrawn at the whim of the rulers.

(continued on the next post)
« Last Edit: February 14, 2006, 02:19:08 PM by roj »
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

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Re: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me (continued)
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2006, 02:17:15 PM »
(continued from previous post)

The status of dhimmis improved for a while in the 1800s when the European powers that dominated the Middle East insisted on better treatment for Jews and Christians in the region, but as Arab world gained independence, the reality of dhimmitude came back with a vengeance; it remains a powerful force in the region today. Under present conditions, the reality of dhimmitude can in no way be mistaken for a governing ethic of religious tolerance.

Today, Christians in the Middle East inhabit an unstable niche in a hostile ecology of religious oppression. A few examples that have gone largely unnoticed by Protestant churches in the U.S. include: Coptic Christians in the Egypt who are routinely attacked by their Muslim neighbors, Christians in Southern Sudan who have been slaughtered and enslaved for more than two decades by a Muslim, Taliban-like regime in Khartoum and in Nigerian Christians who are routinely subjected to mob violence and church burning. All this violence is perpetrated for one goal—the preservation of Muslim supremacy in the Middle East.

The same is true in the Palestinian Authority, where Hamas, a group dedicated to the destruction of Israel and the creation of an Islamic state in its territory, has won a legislative election. Ominously enough, Hamas’ leaders have called for the collection of the jizya – the dhimmi tax – from Christians in Bethlehem, the scene of Christ’s birth.

Younan, who lives in Jerusalem, may not have to pay the jizya in cash, but as a Palestinian, he must somehow demonstrate his subservience to Islamic dominance in Arab society. To this end, he has worked to enlist Lutherans in the West, particularly in the U.S., to the cause of Palestinian nationalism, playing a crucial role in the campaign to pass a resolution that portrayed Israel’s security barrier on the West Bank – and not the terror attacks that precipitated its construction – as a violation of human rights.

To be fair, Younan is not nearly as hostile toward Israel as other Palestinian Christian leaders have toward Israel. In fact, Younan is unique in his explicit acknowledgement that Palestinian freedom is dependent on Israeli security. The fact that he is the only Palestinian Christian leader to acknowledge this reality publicly is some indication of the pressure he is under and the courage he manifests.

But now, in an effort to maintain his insecure niche in a Muslim-majority society that has just put Hamas in power, Bishop Younan is telling Westerners that it is they who must change to keep the peace, not the Arab and Muslim dictators who oppress their people, menace their neighbors, and distract the world from their misdeeds with protests over cartoons in the Western press. And while we agonize over these cartoons, we must in the name of tolerance, charity and forbearance, ignore the flood of similar imagery in the Middle East.

Ecumenical respect is one thing, but to allow our churches to become transmission belts for dhimmitude is another matter altogether. For Younan and his supporters in the U.S. to condemn offensive cartoons in the West while remaining silent about similar cartoons in the Muslim Middle East is to promote nothing more than a master-slave relationship between Islam and Christianity. Submitting to such a relationship is not an affirmation of the life of service, but a betrayal of the Gospel Christians are called to serve.


Dexter Van Zile is Christian Outreach Director of the David Project Center for Jewish Leadership. He is also a lifelong member of the United Church of Christ and has been a vocal critic of his denomination’s pronouncements on the Arab/Israeli conflict.

Copyright 2006 ALPB
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

ROB_MOSKOWITZ

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Re: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2006, 06:52:16 PM »
As a Jew and a Lutheran I say AMEN!!!

buechler

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Re: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2006, 07:09:25 PM »
Amen indeed! Someone should tell the bishop of the Palestinian authority that it is time for him to be a bishop of Christ. Of course, I have a hard time taking someone seriously who had the endorsement of terrorists, such as Mr. Arafat.

Peace in the Lord!
Rob Buechler

G.Edward

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Re: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2006, 08:21:43 PM »
The Bishop who lives in Jordan, I seem to recall?

Yes, he is in a difficult situation.  But history has shown that appeasement of dictators only leads to greater oppression.

This seems more like the right time for Christian leaders to stand in solidarity with moderate Muslim voices on the internet and underground press proclaiming that  the dictators and the persistent illiteracy, poverty, and hunger marking the lives of the average Muslim are afronts to the core values of Islam.

Hamas now has the opportunity they never wanted - to function as a legitimate government working to improve the lives of ordinary Palestinians, not persuading, pressuring, and paying them to blow themselves up along with dozens of innocent bystanders.  Let Hamas be judged by their choices in how they govern!

Dexter Van Zile

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Re: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2006, 05:02:15 AM »
Bishop Younan is routinely referred to as the "Lutheran Bishop in Jerusalem," but if it turns out he in fact lives in Jordan, I stand corrected.

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Re: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2006, 05:48:25 AM »
    Some of the congregations of the ELCJ are in Jordan (I know there is one in Amman).  Prior to the 1967 war, all of the congregations were in Jordan because Jordan ruled that part of what is now the West Bank under Israeli occupation (I use that word not perjoratively, only descriptively).  I believe the bishop lives in Jerusalem, but he travels to Jordan to do the business of the church.
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Mark Christianson

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Re: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2006, 12:19:24 PM »
Quote
Someone should tell the bishop of the Palestinian authority that it is time for him to be a bishop of Christ.


The last time I checked he was bishop not of the Palestinain authority but of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordon and the Holy Land.  What would being a "bishop of Christ" entail and what would it look like?

Mark Christianson

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Re: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2006, 12:24:04 PM »
Quote
Bishop Younan is routinely referred to as the "Lutheran Bishop in Jerusalem," but if it turns out he in fact lives in Jordan, I stand corrected.


No, as Pr. Wolf correctly pointed out, Bishop Younan lives in Jeresualem.  He is the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land.  Before becoming bishop he was a pastor in Ramallah (as he was when I once had the opportunity to meet him).  The congregaations of the ELCJHL are found in Jerusalem (Redeemer Lutheran in the Old City not far from the Holy Sepulchre), Bethlehem, Beit Sahour, Beit Jala, Ramallah, and Amman.

buechler

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Re: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2006, 12:31:39 PM »
Quote


The last time I checked he was bishop not of the Palestinain authority but of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordon and the Holy Land.  What would being a "bishop of Christ" entail and what would it look like?


A bishop of Christ is one who seeks to live, teach, and preach the agenda of Jesus Christ. A bishop of the Palestinian authority is one who preaches, teaches, etc. from that agenda. It would appear to me that he is firmly planted with the Palestinian authority agenda. He needs to look at that. He has been very "bold" in speaking against Israeli violence, but mute to the point of being deafening in his response to Palestinian terrorism, etc.



Peace in the Lord!
Rob Buechler

Dexter Van Zile

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Re: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2006, 12:51:15 PM »
I feel obligated to point out that while Bishop Younan has been unfair in his condemnations of Israel and relatively silent about problems in Palestinian society that undermine its ability to live in peace with its neighbors, he does not manifest the same level of hostility toward Israel and Israelis as other Palestinian Christian leaders in the disputed territories.

He is clearly not the worst.

His repeated acknowledgements that Palestinian freedom is contingent on Israeli safety should count for something. I wish that his fellow countrymen would listen to him on this score.


Mark Christianson

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Re: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2006, 01:32:44 PM »
Quote

A bishop of Christ is one who seeks to live, teach, and preach the agenda of Jesus Christ.


It seems to me from what I've seen and read from him, this is what he is doing.  It seems to me that Bp. Younan is seeking to live, teach, and preach from the perspectice of "the agenda" (as you put it) of Christ Jesus.

Perhaps the difference here is not so much a question of Bp. Younan himself, but in differing assessments of the situation and what witness, ministry, and mission might look like in such a context.  Not to mention the way all this may intersect with ideological concerns on the part of many.

ROB_MOSKOWITZ

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Re: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2006, 02:10:06 PM »
Quote
I feel obligated to point out that while Bishop Younan has been unfair in his condemnations of Israel and relatively silent about problems in Palestinian society that undermine its ability to live in peace with its neighbors, he does not manifest the same level of hostility toward Israel and Israelis as other Palestinian Christian leaders in the disputed territories.

He is clearly not the worst.

His repeated acknowledgements that Palestinian freedom is contingent on Israeli safety should count for something. I wish that his fellow countrymen would listen to him on this score.



Ya he is not a Hamas leader, or Party Of God or Islamic Jihad.  Not as hostile.  But has he called for the Palestinians to respect Israel's security?  Does he even speak for any decent amount of Palestinians?

  Simply stating that Palestinian freedom is contingent on Israeli safety is a simple statement of fact and has nothing to do with the Palestinians.   The fact is Israel has defended herself against Palestinian aggression for near 60 years now.

The fact of the matter is with the exception of a few people in the last few years the goal of the Palestinian people has been and as recent elections confirm the destruction of Israel.

Question:  What is the difference between a Palestinian and an Arab Israeli?  

Question: If we believe the bible and God has given Israel to the Jewish people and those who live in peace with them.   Who is occupying what?  

Question:  What has been the Palestinian answer to any Arab leaders who respect Israel?  

Question: Does being Lutheran elicit automatic allegiance in all causes?


Yours In Christ
Rob Moskowitz

Dexter Van Zile

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Re: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2006, 04:16:10 PM »
You make excellent, unassailable points. On our understanding of the nature of the conflict (the war against Israel) we are on the same page.

But I can't muster the same level of outrage about Munib Younan that I have over Naim Ateek and Mitri Raheb.

Naim Ateek has denied, to my face, the existence of terrorism against Israel before the 1967 war. He said words to the effect "There was no terrorism before the occupation." I almost fell over in a dead faint. I knew there was no point in discussing matters with him further. He told me that reports of Arab promises to destroy Israel before the 1948 War were a "Zionist Myth." This is what I have confronted.

Naim Ateek has used crucifixion imagery in reference to the state of Israel. Google "Call Me Caiaphas" and "Sabeel's Teachings of Contempt" for more information. A briefer version can be found by googling "Reawakening the Teachings of Contempt."

Mitri Raheb has complained about the checkpoints slowing ambulances down without acknowledging that amublances have been used to transport bombs.

Maybe I'm so jaded that I am seeing distinctions that are not really there.

ROB_MOSKOWITZ

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Re: Dhimmi, Get Behind Me by Dexter Van Zile
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2006, 06:01:13 PM »
Oh ya agreed.  

One point though I have no outrage for Munib Younan.   The others you speak of I do not know of  but they sound typical.    I don't know, simply being Lutheran or a pastor or bishop gains no credit from me especially in this situation.  

All this being put out on the political level is simple propaganda and on the level of faith bearing false witness.   I just read a flyer in my synod about a peace conference in Pittsburgh.  The flyer talks about taking neither side but when you go to the supporting groups web page and read "A wake Up Call" it is a sparkling review of Hamas.   Hamas is a terrorist group period.   Churches supporting terrorist groups is unacceptable.  Period.

Ya know I'm a Jew.   Taught Israel was given to my ancestors.   The questions above usually bring blank stares from the propaganda driven.   But that's not why I use them.

Reality:
What is the difference between an Arab Israeli and Palestinian?   Arab Israelis are those Arabs in Palestine who chose to work with Israel instead of try to destroy it.   They are exempt from the draft but usually serve anyway.   Their units in the IDF are fantastic.
Arab Israelis have a higher standard of living than most other Arabs in the Mideast.   A stark contrast the Palestinians.   So who's fault is that?

Arab Israelis make up roughly 1/3 of the Israeli population.   They are full citizens and have representation.   The funny part is Israel will probably eventually be taken over by the Arabs as the Arab Israeli population growth is at least double that of Jewish Israelis.    Funny that way?   Why do the Palestinians need to do what they do?

I think I have a good understanding of Mideast politics being invested in Israel from birth.  As expected I had no respect for Arafat.   But I also knew that his own people tried to kill him far more than the Israelis.   I knew even know you always saw him on TV he had little power.   Especially in the refugee camps in Lebanon which is where much of the power was.  

I actually had allot of hope in Abbas.   But the Palestinians have to keep to the one cause that defined them from the Arab Israelis and peace for the last 58 years.

No, No outrage.  I'm guessing Bp Younan is doing what he is expected to do.     But I'm not an instant fan either.   I don't say the same in those in the  U.S. promoting Hamas or a severe Lutheran minority as representing "Palestinians".

There are very few Saddats in the Arab world.    Definitely none I can see in Palestine.


Yours In Christ
Rob Moskowitz
« Last Edit: February 15, 2006, 06:04:03 PM by ROB_MOSKOWITZ »