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Defending Rev. Frank Chikane

March 21, 2021

Our parent organization Sabeel, with a broad and solid coalition of Palestinian Christians, sabeel.org), has come to the defense of the prominent South African pastor Rev. Frank Chikane, who was accused of anti-semitism. Zionist critics of Rev. Chikane have triggered an ongoing controversy about Palestine and Zionism. To trace its back-and-forth is to enter a door, if not a rabbit-hole, into the vehement and protracted right-versus-left, Jewish-Zionist-vs-Palestinian-Christian Liberation debate.

First, the background: The launch of The People’s Patriarch ( https://tinyurl.com/juzmsaeh ), about Michel Sabbah, the long-time Roman Catholic Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, was the occasion for brief (3-minute) remarks by Rev. Frank Chikane, former secretary-general of the South African Council of Churches and moderator of the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs for the World Council of Churches. After the launch Chikane found one sentence of his removed from context and lambasted by Zionist commentators. The sentence: “We need to begin to say to those who support Israel to brutalise Palestinians that the blood of the people of Palestine will be sought from them, because they collaborate by allowing this system to continue.”

Chikane explained that he was speaking theologically, not literally, and opposes all forms of violence.

For a sample summary of the Zionist anti-Palestinian view, from a right-wing Jewish organ, see https://tinyurl.com/y855c .

For a typical and passionate defense by Rev. Moss Nthla, General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance of Southern Africa, see https://tinyurl.com/ksbjvfma .

The turmoil has spilled over into spirited criticism of the World Council of Churches for alleged anti-Semitism, through, for example, its Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel ( https://eappi.org/ ). See the Jewish News Syndicate anti-WCC trumpeting at
https://www.jns.org/opinion/the-world-council-of-churches-is-wrong-and-does-not-represent-the-global-church/ .

Sabeel’s position is very clear. It has co-signed the declaration in support of Rev. Chikane, which you can find at many spots including the blog of our friends at UNJPPI: https://tinyurl.com/fvfebjwz : It proclaims that “Rev. Chikane has been the target of a vicious smear campaign that leveled the charge of anti-semitism”, and concludes quoting the Kairos Palestine document: “We will see here ‘a new land’ and ‘a new human being’, capable of rising up in the spirit to love each one of his or her brothers and sisters.”

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