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UCCtruths

Every denomination needs one of these...

Global Ministries activist denied entry into Israel - again

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Krista Johnson, a member of Southport Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Indianapolis and a Global Ministries Intern/SABEEL activist, has been denied entry into Israel... again:
Every time I re-enter Israel/Palestine I am nervous about re-entry and hope for a new three month visa. I have had problems twice before- a one week visa once and a denial of entry this past summer on the way back from a World Council of Churches (WCC) meeting in ‘Amman.

Last Saturday morning I flew into Ben Gurion airport after attending a Sabeel conference in Boston and visiting my family in Indianapolis. As I walked up to the passport control counter the woman in the booth sneered at me and asked “what are you doing back here?” after seeing that I had been in Israel recently. She asked why I didn’t have a different visa- why was I trying to sneak past them? She did an additional computer check and exclaimed, “you sneaky girl! You were denied entry in Jordan- you sneaky little girl!” I felt my stomach drop like I was on a rollercoaster, I knew what was coming, but I stayed calm as I was led from one interrogation to another, as my passport was taken from me, and as I was informed that I would not be allowed to enter the country. I explained that I was here representing my church in the US on business, but they told me that I would need a visa from the Ministry of the Interior.
SABEEL, of course, is outraged. From SABEEL:
“In our understanding of U.S. State Department policy, Krista as an American should be privileged to a “reciprocity” policy — the U.S . grants certain visas dependent on what the other country does. The current U.S. policy towards Israelis seeking religious visas — yeshiva students, rabbis, synagogue volunteers, is that they get an unquestioned multiple entry five-year visa. Obviously, Krista did not receive this reciprocity.”
Reciprocity? As is with most things concerning SABEEL, their statement is a half truth. For religious workers in Israel seeking a visa to the U.S., they must work in a professional capacity in a religious vocation. According to the U.S. Embassy in Israel, this specifically means:
A job qualifying as a “religious vocation” includes ministers of religion who are authorized by a recognized denomination to conduct religious worship and perform other duties usually performed by members of the clergy.
Krista Johnson is not clergy, she is an activist and doesn't (and shouldn't) qualify for reciprocity.
posted by UCCtruths, Sunday, November 11, 2007

18 Comments:

Good, they should keep activists out who are bent on distorting the truth and, in turn, inflaming an already volatile situation.
commented by Anonymous Kelm, 2:17 AM  
"Sorry Princess, you'll need to find a legitimate way to stir it up"
commented by Anonymous Andrea W., 2:19 AM  
After a previous successful attempt to sneak into Israel illegally, our Krista was trying her luck, this time through the main door. But oops! I am so glad to see that the Israeli authoritues are doing their job.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 6:47 PM  
OMG! You people are unbelievable! Since I know Krista personally and since I have been posting in defense of Sabeel since UCC "truths" has been campaigning against it, I guess I will comment on this garbage.

First of all there is nothing illegal about Krista's attempt to return to Palestine through Israel. She got off the plane and did what everyone else does - went through Israeli customs, perfectly legal. The reason she was denied entry is because she had just been there and was now trying to return. The Israeli's discourage religious workers or any volunteers for that matter from working in the West Bank - if any of you have ever been there you would know why, Israel is not keen on Westerners knowing the circumstances on the ground. (I will assume none of you have been there)so when they saw she had been there they were supicious that she was a volunteer heading for the West Bank so they denied her entry.

Preventing people from going to help others is nothing to be proud of, if Krista had been returning after being there in order to go to the Zionist "Chirstian Embassy" you can bet that she would have been allowed back in. I am beginning to believe that the people who post on this blog are heartless, you seem to advocate neglect of the poor and oppressed and side rather with the powerful - shame!
commented by Anonymous Chad, 8:29 AM  
Working with Sabeel doesn't count as anything other than political activism. No one is being helped (in a Biblical sense) by Krista's involvement there, they just take advantage of her American passport to move around and gather intelligence. If she were feeding the poor, I would have the world of respect for her, but she is not. This is political activism. No one is fooled.
commented by Anonymous Micah, 9:24 AM  
"No one is being helped (in a Biblical sense) by Krista's involvement there"


Oh come off of it. First of all you have no idea what Krista or any other Sabeel volunteer is doing there. She is a rep of Global Ministries which is an officially church sanctioned organization (UCC & DoC) so she is present in a official way, sent by GM & indeed many people are being helped by her presence and ministry.

Second what part of the Bible are you not reading Micah(pun intended - maybe you should re-read "your" book)? Maybe it's the over 2,000 verses that are in favor of working for the poor and oppressed?

I would argue that Justice in the biblical sense is achieved when each person has what she or he needs to survive, to develop and thrive, and to give back to the community. It recognizes the right of each person to share in the goods of creation to that extent. Clearly this is not the current reality for the Palestinian people.

As for politics - In addition to affirming the ethical norms of the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament explicitly forbids the economic oppression of the poor, weak, and the vulnerable. There are specific instructions to tax collectors and soldiers to avoid extorting money. Jesus personally criticized certain hypocritical religious leaders for “devour[ing] widows’ houses,” and thus taking economic advantage of those who were, in the context of the Ancient Near East, the least powerful members of society. A position no doubt the Palestinians hold today.

In addition to issuing specific instructions to share economic resources with those in need, especially those who cannot reciprocate, the New Testament also warns those enjoying an abundance of wealth to avoid the temptation of putting their trust and loyalty in money and possessions rather than God. Moreover, in his declaration that he has come “to preach good news to the poor” and “release the oppressed,” Jesus invoked the most basic prophetic principles, suggesting that changes in the basic structures of society would be required to advance God’s will for humanity.

Clearly, a nation that operates in a manner consistent with such biblical norms of fairness, justice, and equity must foster the well being of all of its citizens, and cannot permit exploitation of the weak by the more powerful. The use of power to privilege the rich and disadvantage the poor is, from a biblical perspective, an offense against the Creator.

I could begin a laundry list of instances where the Israeli government violates the ethical standards of the Hebrew and Christian scriptures from unfair taxation to house demolition but I will not. I will however say that political activism under these circumstances is the equivalent of ministry - clearly!
commented by Anonymous Chad, 10:20 AM  
Please, spare me - she is not helping the poor or the oppressed.

In all of that, you couldn't name a single thing Krista has done to help the poor.

The Palestinians are oppressed and do deserve our help, but it's not going to come in the form of a political group like Sabeel that doesn't have the courage to face the challenges internal to the existing Palestinian government (and please, don't tell me in English how Sabeel speaks to American fundraisers about peace - show me where they speak in Arabic about peace to Hamas). I would encourage you to read Micah, REALLY read Micah (not with your politically stained glasses).

If you want to help the Palestinians and if you really want peace, you won't find it playing political games. Peace begins in Gaza and in the West Bank.
commented by Anonymous Micah, 4:58 PM  
Ahhh...but peace without justice might just be pointless!Hence the need for groups like Sabeel ~ (I wonder how you feel about the Macabees of the Heb Scriptures, they considered themselves 'liberationists' with a theological & political agenda)

You said ~
"In all of that, you couldn't name a single thing Krista has done to help the poor."

I think I very clearly said that under the circumstances I enumerated above political activism is ministry and I add helping the poor.

You said ~
"you won't find it playing political games. Peace begins in Gaza and in the West Bank"

This is just a ridiculous statement, the problems in Gaza and the WB are political & geo-political, so obviously you need to find political solutions.

"REALLY read Micah" that must mean read it until I get your interpretation of it.
commented by Anonymous Chad, 5:18 PM  
Sabeel is an organization that encourages Christians in the U.S. to view the Arab-Israeli conflict through a lens of anti-Jewish polemic from the New Testament. Parables used to portray the intransigency of the Jews who rejected Christ are used to assess, view and interpret Israeli behavior, but are not used to assess Palestinian or Arab behavior.

Moreover, it condemns suicide bombing and acts of terror, using Christian theology, in English, to Christian audiences in the U.S. Mainline Protestant churches that are the typical audiences for these condemnations are not fertile recruiting grounds for suicide bombers. Most people who perpetrate suicide bombers speak Arabic, live in the West Bank or Gaza Strip and do not accept Christian theology. Despite all these things, Sabeel is portrayed as condemning suicide bombings. Technically, yes it does, but only to people who already understand it as wrong.

Sabeel is not a peacemaking organization, and Global Missions support of the organization is a good argument in favor of local churches withholding OCWM money.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 12:55 PM  
"Sabeel is an organization that encourages Christians in the U.S. to view the Arab-Israeli conflict through a lens of anti-Jewish polemic from the New Testament"

Incorrect. Sabeel wants Christians to view the conflict through the biblical lense of justice, a lense which even Israel should be seen through. Also do you have any proof to substantiate your implication that Sabeel doesn't condemn suicide bombing in Arabic?

And by the way, who is condemning Israeli acts of violence against Palestinians in Hebrew for the Israeli's? Anyone? ~ You and those like you are the ones who see things from one point of view & my suggestion is that if you and your church cannot support OCWM (which is your right) then leave the denomination and join the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference. www.ccccusa.com I am sure that you would be happier there.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 10:30 PM  
"...my suggestion is that if you and your church cannot support OCWM (which is your right) then leave the denomination and join the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference. www.ccccusa.com I am sure that you would be happier there."
****

Nice comment. Perhaps you should read up on UCC polity before anonymously posting a comment like that. The UCC isn't a monolithic church run by a Pope - local churches DO HAVE A SAY in how they will participate with the wider church and the local church DOES HAVE THE RIGHT to withhold OCWM if it chooses. This is a problem for Global Ministries... instead of building consensus on issues like the Middle-East conflict, they ram an agenda down everyone else's throats and then expect everyone to follow along. Sorry, this isn't the Catholic Church.
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 11:18 AM  
"And by the way, who is condemning Israeli acts of violence against Palestinians in Hebrew for the Israeli's? Anyone?"

B'tselem
Rabbis for Human Rights

There are others.

"Incorrect. Sabeel wants Christians to view the conflict through the biblical lense of justice, a lense which even Israel should be seen through."

Yawn. You write "even Israel" should be seen through the lens of biblical justice. But what about the Palestinians? The rest of the Arab world? Hamas? Hezbollah? Please provide one instance in which Sabeel has used the biblical lens of justice to assess, evaluate and judge Palestinian/Arab/Muslim behavior. The fact is, in Sabeel's work ONLY Israel is viewed through the lens of biblical justice.

"Also do you have any proof to substantiate your implication that Sabeel doesn't condemn suicide bombing in Arabic?"

Sabeel's influence is in North America and Europe. It is a marginal organization in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. Hamas does not return Sabeel's phone calls.

If you've got proof that Naim Ateek stands in the public square of Palestinian society and condemns Hamas and Hezbollah and the corruption of Fateh, in Arabic to Palestinian crowds, lets see it. Otherwise all we have is evidence of Naim Ateek condemning suicide bombings in english to western audiences so that they can invoke his essay on suicide bombing as a prop to demonstrate Sabeel is in fact, a peace making organization.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 11:47 AM  
"I am beginning to believe that the people who post on this blog are heartless, you seem to advocate neglect of the poor and oppressed and side rather with the powerful - shame!"

Maybe if Sabeel and other organizations did a better job of conscientizing both the Palestinians and Christians in the West as to the multiple sources of Palestinian suffering, we wouldn't sound so indifferent to the suffering in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

As you probably know "conscientizing" is an aspect of liberation theology which calls upon leaders to understand and educate the poor and oppressed about the structures that cause their suffering.

Sabeel has done a phenomenally BAD job of this. A terrible job. It has blamed Israel, and only Israel for the suffering of the Palestinians and has not given people in either the West Bank or Gaza or in the West the full picture of the situation. It's all Israel, all the time. Very little is done to assess or evaluate Muslim theology of land, or Muslim theology regarding the Jewish people, which clearly are important issues. It's time that the mainline start talking about these issues in as a precise and unemotional manner as possible and then come up with a Christian response to these issues.

But Sabeel does not address these issues in a comprehensive and honest manner. It downplays them or ignores them.

The fact is, Christian Zionism, is NOT a significant cause of suffering for the Palestinians, as Sabeel and its supporters suggest. Muslim theology regarding Jews and Christians (or non-Muslims) and land is a much bigger factor.

The average observer knows this, even if they can't fill in the details.

The people who post on this blog are people who insist on looking reality in the eye for what it is. When we are faced with deluded dishonest, and ultimately lethal narratives about the evils of Israel, Judaism, and Zionism, frankly, we get tired.

If people are going to use the exodus story as a template for Palestinian nationalism, they need to show that they know the difference between murmuring in the wilderness, and murdering in the Wilderness.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 12:05 PM  
"First of all you have no idea what Krista or any other Sabeel volunteer is doing there. She is a rep of Global Ministries which is an officially church sanctioned organization (UCC & DoC) so she is present in a official way, sent by GM & indeed many people are being helped by her presence and ministry."

Actually, one of the things Sabeel does is take people on a tour called "Contemporary Stations of the Cross." This is a tour that uses the stations of the cross to portray Israeli policies as crucifying the Palestinians.

Secondly, Sabeel activists also play a role in organizing the international conferences that are used to offer a distorted narrative about the Arab-Israeli conflict.

And if people in the UCC do not know what role Global Ministries people play in running Sabeel, whose fault is that? It's not as if we get a lot of reports from the Global Ministries about the work done at Sabeel by the people whose salaries we pay.
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 12:36 PM  
Actually having been on the "Contemporary way of the cross" I can vouch that it doesn't use crucifixion imagery in the way you describe.

Your premise that the conferences present a distorted narrative of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict I must assume is based on that narrative not being the one promoted by Israel. The facts on the ground are simple and easy to see...one group of people has all the power, another does not, one group lives under military occupation, the other does not, one group is walled in and the other is not, one groups has it land confiscated the other does not. The reality on the ground in country is there for anyone to see whether guided by Sabeel or not.

I wonder how many of those commenting on this post have actually been to the West Bank or to Gaza...a first hand look brings a first hand perspective. Having been there I have formed my opinions based mostly on that experience - coupled with what information I have studied from both sides over the years.

When I was in college I interned for a Jewish agency that was bringing Jews from the former U.S.S.R to the U.S. so they might escape the rampant anti-semitism in those countries and live safely ~ having that experience ignited a desire to serve justice issues as they arise whenever I can. I have a deep respect for the Jewish people and am very disappointed that the nation of Israel is acting in ways that run contrary to what I know about Hebrew culture and ethics. Even more disappointing are the comments posted here that seem to disqualify Sabeel and presumably the Palestinian cause from it's legitimate status as a peace making and justice seeking movement or organization.

Our own history in the U.S. is one of land confiscation, and then placing the blame on the natives as we occupied and ultimately slaughtered them or removed them to our own bantustans(reservations)
Maybe this is one reason Americans who side solely with Israeli policy in the region do so. It is in our own history to conquer and displace a people and then build a nation on the ruins of the previous society.

I support the right of Israeli's to live in peace and have security, I also support the right of Palestinians to have the same, however peace without justice is not peace. The land confiscation in the form of settlements (all of which are illegal by international standards), the construction of the wall on Palestinian land (if they must have it then move it to the greenline) and the continued dehumanization of the Palestinian people must come to a hault.
commented by Anonymous Chad Kyler, 11:51 AM  
"Nice comment. Perhaps you should read up on UCC polity before anonymously posting a comment like that. The UCC isn't a monolithic church run by a Pope - local churches DO HAVE A SAY in how they will participate with the wider church and the local church DOES HAVE THE RIGHT to withhold OCWM if it chooses. This is a problem for Global Ministries... instead of building consensus on issues like the Middle-East conflict, they ram an agenda down everyone else's throats and then expect everyone to follow along. Sorry, this isn't the Catholic Church."

You're correct the UCC is not a monolihic body - however in our polity as local churches we choose to covenant with our Associations, Conferences and through them the national church -

the biblical concept of covenant comes to us through the Hebrew word Berith which more precisely means "promise" or "pledge". With that understanding it is easy to see how "anonymous" might assume that those of us in the UCC who do not often agree with the direction of our national church or it's programs might be more comfortable giving our pledge, or making our promise to another body more in line with our values...
commented by Anonymous Chad, 12:01 PM  
after reading my last comment I should clarify, that I do agree with most of the program of the national UCC, in fact that program is ultimately what led to my joining a UCC church. I am sorry if my comment was misleading ~ I was trying to speak in a tone of basic solidarity will all member's of the UCC regardless of their feelings about the national trends.

Thanks
commented by Anonymous chad, 12:38 PM  
Chad:

In the context of UCC polity, "covenant" is not the synonymous with "pledge". As I have said many times, covenant is a two way street and one that is not dictated solely by the national office or the local church. Keeping covenant requires communication, cooperation and consensus building. If local churches don't believe that the covenant among our churches hasn't been kept, they are within their right to react any way they want - including withholding OCWM. The UCC constitution is absolutely clear on this point.

It's more than a little ironic that Global Ministries would support divestment from Israel yet you scoff at the idea of church members exercising that same strategy by withholding OCWM. You reap what you sow.
commented by Blogger UCCtruths, 12:41 PM  

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