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Ayoon Wa Azan (The Door Is Wide Open).

I suggest that the Arabs and Muslims seek an alliance with Christian churches against Israel, and I believe that al-Azhar al-Sharif is the best choice to lead this effort.

Some of these churches have decided to divest from Israel, while others have declared a boycott of goods exported from the occupied territories. All these churches are also speaking out against the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians.

Even the Quakers, or the Religious Society of Friends, a small Protestant denomination famous for advocating peace, have recently decided to pull out their limited investments from Israel.

There is a great chance here for cooperation between the Muslims and the Christian churches. The whole world hates Israel, and Eastern Orthodox churches, such as the Russian church, have taken positions against Israel that border on racism.

But perhaps Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the hero of the struggle against racial segregation (apartheid) in South Africa, is the best example of what can be achieved in this regard.

Tutu is a prominent defender of Palestinian rights. He spares no occasion to criticize the occupation and its crimes. Yet his efforts are not limited to statements, but also include achievements that not even the victims of Israeli occupation can claim to have realized.

The archbishop, who is a winner of the Noble Peace Prize, persuaded a US pension fund for teachers to cut its ties with Israeli companies. Tutu convinced the University of Johannesburg to end its partnership with Ben-Gurion University in Israel. He also led a campaign for a boycott of Israeli goods by American supermarkets, and is currently leading another campaign to impose a ban on arms sales to Israel around the world.

Next month, Tutu will open the third session of the Russell Tribunal, which had convened last year in Barcelona and London. During this event, Tutu will seek to determine whether Israel's policies against the Palestinians can be categorized as apartheid. Tutu had coined the term 'Zionist apartheid', which is now being widely used in anti-Israel forums.

All this is the effort of one man, who deserves the highest accolades from all Arab and Muslim countries. I propose for al-Azhar al-Sharif to reach out to this man, because he is highly respected and esteemed in the East and the West.

It is possible that the Christian churches are motivated by their historical hostility towards the Jews whom they hold responsible for the crucifixion of Christ, according to the account of the New Testament. Or maybe these churches see the suffering of the Palestinians under the occupation.

But I want to add another reason here: Christian churches and monasteries in occupied Palestine, that is to say, the birthplace of Christianity, are coming under repeated attacks such as attempted arsons or vandalism, or graffiti insulting Jesus Christ. Graffiti as such sprayed on the walls of the monastery of St. John read "Jesus, son of a bitch".

Compare this to what the Quran said about Mary: "O Mary! Truly, God favored thee, and purified thee, and favored thee above women of the world." Not even the Holy Bible contains description such as this of Mary, Jesus's mother.

In this journalistic haste, I cannot note down every single campaign by the Christian churches against Israel. All I can do instead is give some examples, including growing criticism by the Catholic Church, one of the largest Christian churches in the world, against Israel, following repeated assaults on Christian sites.

A month ago, a monastery belonging to a small denomination called Trappist, which I know nothing about except that its monks have taken a vow of silence, was attacked. Vandals spray-painted graffiti on the building with the words "Jesus is a monkey."

And last summer, the United Church of Canada decided to boycott Israel. The church's regular council meeting ended up focusing more on Israel than on religious issues.

Perhaps the best example of the mutiny by Christian churches against Israel is the decision by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL), another Israel lobby in the United States, to pull out from a dialogue between Christian churches and the Jews scheduled on October 22. This happened after some church leaders sent a letter to their followers condemning Israel for human rights violations against Palestinians and calling for a re-evaluation of U.S. aid to Israel.

I believe that the door is wide open for a worldwide Christian-Islamic alliance against Israel. I hope that al-Azhar al-Sharif will lead this effort, and then warn that Israel is doing its best along with its gang in America to turn Christians against Islam and Muslims, by promoting claims about assaults against Christians, or the risk Islam poses to the West, which is my subject tomorrow.

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Publication:Dar Al Hayat, International ed. (Beirut, Lebanon)
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Oct 17, 2012
Previous Article:The Syrian Memory.
Next Article:Lakhdar Brahimi and the Concerns Over the Region.

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