“This is not prison; this is a genocide,” stated an audience member following August 29 movie screenings concerning the Gaza Strip at the Washington, DC office of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). Typifying the Israel-hating audience of about 25 that filled FCNL’s small Capitol Hill presentation room, this woman’s comments demonstrated how Quakers at FCNL and beyond have joined the global demonization of Israel.
The woman, a self-professed member of the radical anti-Israel organization Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), “was totally sickened” by the evening’s viewings of Gaza in Context and Gaza: A Gaping Wound. These two films formed the latest presentation of Voices from the Holy Land (VFHL), a Washington, DC-area film club that unites local members of Israel’s enemies such as JVP and is well-known to this author. Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorists could not have been more pleased with VFHL’s pseudo-documentaries depicting victimized Palestinians and fiendish Zionists, as the JVP woman declared, “I just want to stand up and salute every Palestinian.”
Such bias belied the supposed objectivity of the evening’s introduction by VFHL’s Deepak Kenkeremath, a member of Manassas Presbyterian Church in Virginia. The “mainstream media” discusses Gaza in terms of “words and phrases like terrorists, and Hamas, and rockets, and suicide bombers, and Israeli Defense Forces,” he stated. Somehow the evening’s agitprop sought to expose a deeper, hidden truth behind the clear meaning of these plain words, and give “context for understanding what is going on in Gaza right now.”
Similarly, in his post-screening discussion of his recent charity trip to Gaza to perform surgery, VFHL’s James Cobey, an orthopedic surgeon and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, engaged in moral inversion of Hamas aggressors and Israeli defenders. The JVP woman’s comments followed Cobey’s remark that omnipresent Israeli drones overflying Gaza meant that there “everybody feels they are imprisoned.” Accordingly, he claimed that in Gaza the “reason the Palestinians shoot these rockets, which aren’t very powerful, is because they are frustrated,” not because of Hamas’ jihad ideology.
The considerable dangers of Hamas rockets, as well as terror tunnels and more recently fire kites, must cause considerable loss of sleep among Israelis. Yet Cobey focused not on their necessity to quickly take cover in bomb shelters, but on Gaza’s rest needs. He stated that the night before he left Gaza, the Israeli Air Force dropped 90 bombs in six hours, and complained that “it is hard to sleep with bombs all night long.”
Cobey’s fellow Episcopalian and VFHL member Tom Getman demonstrated once again how his antisemitism was a primary factor in turning the Christian aid agency World Vision International against Israel. He has previously ranted this year before an anti-Israel conference audience (including this author) about Zionism’s “genocidist” God. His writings for the George Soros-funded Sojourners magazine have slanderously described the Old Testament Canaanite god of child sacrifice, Moloch, as an “angry Israeli god.” As Dexter van Zile from the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) has documented, with Getman et al leading, “World Vision’s behavior is, simply put, scandalous” towards Israel.
Getman at FCNL noted that he “worked five years in Palestine” for World Vision’s Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza operations. His comments evoked those of the Massachusetts Episcopal Bishop Gayle Harris, who recently apologized for fabricating Israeli atrocity stories. He described an Israeli military that willfully attacked humanitarian Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) like World Vision, as if the standard human shield tactics of jihadists such as Hamas did not encompass NGOs.
Contrary to the Israeli military’s documented high ethical standards, Getman claimed to have once stood near Red Cross tents at a Gaza intersection
with my flak jacket on, clearly marked as an NGO. The men on either side of me were shot, one right here in the forehead, and the other with a graze wound. I could hear no sound of the shot; it was from 1,500 meters from across the barrier, across the fence. That happens every day, not just what you are seeing, even when we would call regularly the coordinates of our projects….I came to believe that when we called in coordinates, they added us to their list, and that to me shows the kind of evil we are facing, and how we must mobilize in ways that I think we haven’t even begun to comprehend.
Corresponding to Getman’s comments, much of the post-screening discussion concerned political advocacy against Israel. VFHL member Thomas Johnson mentioned the Washington, DC Episcopal Diocese Companion Diocesan Committee—Jerusalem, where he collaborates with both Cobey and Getman. Getman emphasized the importance of weaning Christian Zionists away from Israel. “We have many former Christian Zionist friends, inadvertent Zionist friends who, when they have got the kind of picture we got today, will come over to the winning side,” he said.
Cobey, meanwhile, praised President Barack Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech, with its politically correct pieties about Islam, as “fantastic.” Cobey said that some saw in Obama a coming “great change in the relationship to Israel after that, but he backed off, he was told to stop, he wouldn’t be reelected.” Cobey hoped that the former president freed from reelection concerns could be a “great speaker” on Israel.
Similar sentiments came from the evening’s hosts, FCNL Legislative Director for Middle East Policy Kate Gould, and FCNL Quaker Field Secretary Christine Ashley. The Iran nuclear deal promoter Gould noted people such as Hillary Clinton “who have supported past attacks on Gaza, even those who we may not think of as natural allies on this issue.” They have “frustration and anger about the continuation of the ‘occupation’” by Israel over Palestinians, and therefore there are politically “really some new opportunities.”
Gould said that politicians are “hearing certainly from those who want to see more bombs and they are saying we don’t hear enough from people who support human rights.” Her ideas of human rights supporters such as the Virginia Coalition for Human Rights (VCHR) were rather curious. This local group contains members of organizations supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, such as JVP and the Hamas-derived American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).
The evening’s affiliations with BDS supporters such as VFHL rendered hollow FCNL’s official online statement that FCNL members “do not take a position on BDS.” Meanwhile, the Quaker church has divested from companies doing business with Israel. Israel has also listed the Quakers’ American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) among 20 organizations such as JVP that are banned from entering Israel due to BDS support, as a result of the AFSC’s longstanding anti-Israel animus.
Most Jews would not have appreciated the event’s seething contempt against Israel and the discovery that FCNL is no friend of the Jewish state. Yet Ashley tried to end the evening on a note of John Lennon-like happy multicultural platitudes. She blithely quoted from the Quaker writer Parker J. Palmer, who apparently has never studied Islamic supremacist doctrines like jihad.
Palmer had stated that
all the great spiritual traditions when you boil them down, are saying one simple thing, be not afraid…you don’t have to be your fears, and you don’t have to create a world in which those fears dominate the conditions of many, many people.
Many should fear the FCNL’s warped views.