By Daphne Anson
“Cathedral naves are the traditional meeting places for people to come together and debate matters of concern, to learn, reflect and find wisdom in the middle of difficulty and confusion.
Our recent weekend conference ‘Holding Palestine in the Light – the context of the conflict’ was an attempt to help people understand the complexity of the situation and what roads to peace are available for all the people of the Holy Land, Israelis and Palestinians. There were some passionate exchanges and contributions from the floor representing very diverse views. It takes courage to make peace and the first step is to listen.
That is a proper requirement for everyone who is concerned with the long term future and flourishing of all the Israeli and Palestinian people. We hope that the opinion, prayers and righteous action of people of faith and goodwill could yet help bring all sides together on a path to a lasting peace. It is my hope, and that of the Ecumenical Planning group who arranged the conference, that the weekend was a small contribution to understanding, and an encouragement to people of faith to pray and work for peace.”
That’s the statement that the Dean of Lichfield, the Reverend Adrian Dorber, issued in reponse to criticism of the shameful anti-Israel conference held at Lichfield Cathedral at theend of last month (see here and here and here)
And here’s a declaration plugging the conference that Dean Dorber made on the so-called [Christian] Social Responsibility Network about a week before the shamefully biased event was held:
“I would be very grateful if you could bring a conference we are holding in Lichfield to the attention of all whom you think might be interested. The details are on the attached flyer.
We are delighted to be able to host the event and we hope it will provide insight and knowledge into this most complex and agonising conflict. We have scholars, writers and religious leaders coming from Jewish, Muslim and Christian backgrounds. Recent Pilgrims to Israel/Palestine will find something on the programme to broaden or deepen their experience and understanding. We will extend a warm welcome to all who attend and your commendation of the event will mean much to us.”
Not surprisingly, the Dean’s statement attempting to justify the conference has failed to cut much ice with those aghast at the thrust and tone of the deeply one-sided event.
Further to his powerful post describing his experiences at and impressions of that conference (see my middle link above), British blogger David Collier has written a long must-read follow-up post divided into sections.
In one section, he asks the Dean of Lichfield ten pertinent questions:
Revd Adrian Dorber, given my experience at Lichfield last weekend, given the audio below, given your statement and given the publicly stated mission of the conference itself:
1.During the main run of speakers on Saturday. Why was there not a single person who would push a Zionist line or counter the vile lies invited?
2.How did a Jew suggesting that ‘Jews have a lot to be sorry for’, help expose the truth or assist in the search for peace; how did that help cohesion in our own society?
3. Why was there not a single book, nor single leaflet at the entire event that was not urging people to blame or punish Israel?
4. How did it help the cause for peace that someone suggested Palestinian reaction to Oslo was children throwing flowers (whilst not mentioning any of the brutal terror attacks)?
5. How do you feel that suggesting Zionists made a deal over holocaust victims in exchange for European support helps expose the truth or assists in the search for peace?
6. How do you feel that demonising Israel’s peace camp by suggesting there was no reason for them to ‘close the box’ in 2000, helps expose the truth or assists in the search for peace. Would you accept someone saying ‘attitudes in the US towards Afghanistan changed in 2001 but we cannot know why’?
7. How do you think it exposes the truth or assists in the search for peace to suggest that Israel has committed the ‘same crimes’ as both regime and opposition in places such as Syria and Iraq? (Note to Dean, as a Christian, you are a dying breed everywhere in the Middle East EXCEPT Israel).
8. How do you feel about the refusal to accept a second question from an attendee who had been identified as a Zionist?
9. Do you think, given the history of the blood libel and classic antisemitic tropes, that suggesting Jewish Zionists are like vampires in any way helped to expose the truth or assist in the search for peace?
10. Do you think belittling or even denying Jewish religious and historical ties to the land helps expose the truth or assists in the search for peace?
Read all of David Collier’s post here
Dean Dorber’s replies are eagerly anticipated …