Michael Brown Religious Affairs Correspondent
Bishop of Jerusalem accuses Israel of 'creating terrorism'
The Bishop of Jerusalem has made a scathing attack on Israel in a
controversial report before Anglican leaders as the General Synod, the
Church of England's parliament opens its first full-day of business in York
Riah Abu El-Assal, who has been described as "an Arab, Palestinian,
Christian Israeli," accused the Israeli Army of torturing Palestinians and
castigates the Jewish state for creating rather than rooting out terrorism.
He also warned that, as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict goes on, the
Christian Church faces the serious threat of extinction. The report,
Israel/Palestine: An Unholy War, from the synod's Board for Social
Responsibility, is due to be debated on Monday, when Bishop of Guildford
John Gladwin, a former Provost of Sheffield, will invite the synod to
express its "profound sorrow and dismay" at the escalation of violence in
the Israel/Palestine and the "untold human suffering that this has inflicted
Bishop Gladwin will also invite the synod to call on Israel to withdraw
the occupied territories – at the same time as calling on the Palestinian
Authority to condemn suicide bombing.
Bishop El-Assal said in the report that, since the Palestinian uprising
began, over 1,600 people have been killed, including 450 children under the
age of 18.
"It is not humanly possible to live with the tortures imposed by the Israeli
Army," he wrote. "Israeli restrictions on movement are impeding hospital
staff and patients from getting to their hospitals and often preventing
doctors from reaching rural clinics. All this does not amount to a war on
terrorism but rather to the systematic humiliation of an entire people. The
result of all this is anger, frustration and a desire for revenge. The
Israelis may think and may claim that they are rooting out terrorism, but in
fact they are creating it. No one is left with enough sanity to heed the
value of human lives. The bottom cause of all this is not terrorism, as some
would think. Rather, it is the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestinian
"The Israeli occupations not only damaging the Palestinian population
also corrupting the Israeli culture and society. This is an unholy war
indeed. It is an unholy war in a land we call holy." Bishop El-Assal said
the Christian Church has witnessed for 2000 years the faithfulness of God in
But he warned: "Today the Church faces a serious threat of extinction, as
the conflict goes on. "It is with great pain – and hope at the same time –
that we are called to press on. "Nothing would be more tragic than if our
2000-year-old presence came to an end. This may be avoided, but only if
peace is established on justice. This means [Israel] withdrawing from all
the occupied territories to the 1967 borders."