The following piece, written by CAMERA analyst Dexter Van Zile, appeared in The Jewish World Review on July 27.
Anglican Priest Naim Ateek is making the rounds in support of his most recent book, A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation (Orbis, 2008), in which he falsely accuses Israel of perpetrating a “slow and creeping genocide” against Palestinians â who have one of the fastest growing populations in the world.
Apparently, leveling false accusations at the Jewish people and their homeland is not enough to get one barred from polite society in 21st century America.
So much for history progressing in an upward spiral.
In February, Ateek, founder of Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, appeared at churches in Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.
And on July 18-20, Ateek appeared at a number of venues in the Puget Sound region of Washington State. In addition to appearing in churches, Ateek appeared for the first time before a congregation of American Jews â at the Kadima House in Seattle.
The centerpiece of Ateek’s Puget Sound tour was his June 20, 2009 appearance on Weekday, a radio show hosted by Steve Scher and broadcast on KUOW, an NPR station in Seattle. During his radio appearance, Ateek returned to a persistent theme in his writings: the notion that the god described in some of the Hebrew Scriptures is a primitive, violent and territorial god who cares only about Jews.
During the interview, during which Scher lobbed softball questions, Ateek described Palestinian liberation theology as a way of helping people understand “how the Bible has been abused by Jewish religious extremists and Christian Zionists [who are] using the Bible against the Palestinians.”
According to Ateek, “people quote from Genesis that G-d has given the land to the Jewish people. So the land is given by God so they have a divine right to the land and the Palestinians have no rights. They need to go. It is the wrong way of interpreting scripture. Palestinian liberation theology comes to really help people understand that the message of the Bible is not about a god who is a person concerned about a piece of land here or there, but a god of justice, a god of peace, a god of compassion.”
During the interview, Ateek stated that some books in the Hebrew canon â most notably Daniel and Jonah â offer a critique and an alternative to this “exclusive, bigoted god who says I’m gonna go with you to war, I’m gonna kill your enemies.”
Scher, who did not raise concerns about Ateek’s use of anti-Jewish polemics from the New Testament against the modern state of Israel, also failed to address a central question that needs asking: What type of god is propounded in Ateek’s so-called “peacemaking” ministry?
It’s an obvious question given Ateek’s criticism of the exclusive and bullying god that he says Jews and Christian Zionists use to justify Israeli policies.
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