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British Church Document on Mideast

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The British Council of Churches has produced a document on the Middle East, which the JTA understands is the British-Anglican contribution on this subject in advance of the forthcoming assembly of the World Council of Churches in Nairobi–the supreme body of the Protestant and Anglican faith.

It is understood that the British church is producing its own draft documents to counter material emanating from the World Council of Churches head offices in Geneva. Recently British church publications have attacked the Geneva center as having left-wing bias, condoning so-called liberation movements and use of power. The World Council, it will be recalled, gave a million dollars to “Arab refugee organizations,” and there was no way of knowing whether the money reached the PLO. In the 1930s the World Council’s counterpart gave nothing to Jewish refugees from Nazism.

The Mideast document was actually produced by the division of international affairs, jointly responsible to the British Council of Churches and the Conference of British Missionary Societies.

An entire section is entitled “Through Jewish Eyes” and it says. “The Jews as the people of God came to inherit a land promised by God.” It recapitulates Jewish history and suffering from religious prejudice and political anti-Semitism, and stresses the centrality of the land of Israel in Judaism as evinced in the phrase: “Next Year In Jerusalem.”

GOES FURTHER THAN CATHOLIC DOCUMENT

The Anglican document goes much further than the Catholics’ on the Jews. It sees Israel as “the place aimed at providing both a secure home for fugitives from persecution and a focal point for the Jewish sense of peoplehood.” It speaks of Jewish attitudes toward Israel ranging from Soviet Jewry wishing to settle there to those “who under no circumstances short of complete disaster would wish to uproot themselves.”

The church document holds that Jews every where feel a sense of close affinity with, and responsibility for the State of Israel “whose roots are deeply embedded in their own remarkable history.” Looking at the Mideast through Arab eyes, the Anglican authors maintain that “the British under the Mandate tried to reconcile the irreconcilable,” In surveying Arab attitudes, it notes their wish to oblige Israel to return to the 1949 armistice lines.

They also noted “the Arabs accepted neither the legality of the political partition of Palestine, nor the establishment of Israel, and resorted to force to prevent it.” Later, in discussing the PLO and its use of terrorism, the church document’s authors accept the prognosis that “the Jewish refugee problem led to the creation of the Arab refugee problem.”

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