Archbishop George Carey, the fundamentalist head of the Anglican Church, has called, during a recent visit to Jerusalem, for the establishment of a Palestinian State, and has attacked the Israeli government’s plans to build a new Jewish settlement at Har Homa.
But a closer look at his remarks reveals that Carey does not care too hoots about Palestine or the Muslim presence in the holy city, and that his visit has to do with evangelical pursuits than with justice for Palestinian Muslims.
Carey’s remarks came during a sermon in St. George’s Cathedral in eastern Jerusalem on March 11 - only two days after Pope John Paul II had criticized the decision to build the settlements, and on the eve of meeting chairman Yassir Arafat in Ghazzah to demonstrate his church’s support for the faltering ‘peace’ process.
In a clear attempt not to single out Israel for blame, he said: ‘We look on with anguish as new actions on either side appear to undermine the peace process. The current crisis with regard to new settlements in east Jerusalem is just one of these.’
At a time when the battle for Jerusalem is approaching a decisive stage, the Anglican Church was in full force in the city. The spiritual [leader of the] world’s 70 million Anglicans was there chairing a week-long meeting of world heads (3 archbishops) of the church.
‘Last November, leaders of the British churches appealed for an end to the building and expansion of settlements, and a negotiated agreement on the future of existing settlements,’ he told them. ‘Actions and words must agree,’ he added - a commendable counsel he often fails to heed whenever he waxes lyrical about religious co-existence in Europe and the Middle East but stokes sectarian fires in [the] Sudan and Azerbaijan.
In a transparent claim to a place in Jerusalem for Anglicans, the archbishop then endorsed the description of the city given by Michael Sabbah, the Latin Patriarch, as a ‘city for two peoples and three faiths.’ While Christians work together to protect a joint base in Jerusalem, the different denominations compete for followers among Christian Palestinians and for Jewish and Muslim converts.
In a world where the number of the Christian faithful is dwindling, the Anglican and Catholic churches are locked in fierce rivalry. In southern Sudan, for instance, where animists are the majority, both Pope John Paul and archbishop Carey personally conducted evangelical missions twice in the last three years - with the more reckless Anglican primate calling for a Christian uprising.
Having made moderate references in his sermon to a Palestinian State as well as to a place in Jerusalem for Muslims and Arabs, Carey went on quickly to equate the positions of the oppressed Palestinians and the zionist occupiers. ‘The world prays for the peace of Jerusalem because we know that if [it] is possible here it is possible anywhere,’ he said. ‘Sympathetic outsiders such as myself can hear the justified longings of the two peoples of this land.’
He then tried desperately to explain how the zionist usurpers of Palestine and Jerusalem can be said to have unfulfilled ‘justified longings,’ extolling their yearning for peace and loathing for war.
He said: ‘We are at one with the people of Israel in their search for a lasting peace. The Jewish peoples have suffered enough in their long and terrible journey. They long to dismantle their weapons and beat their swords into ploughshares.’
In [cross out “in”] Nowhere in his sermon did the archbishop refer to the good faith or peace-loving nature of the Palestinians. His inordinate praise for the longing of the zionists - who have built the most awesome warmachine in the entire Middle East - for peace must, then, be taken to imply that it is the Palestinians who are responsible for the lack of harmony.
But he left the worst outrage to the conclusion of his sermon - equating Palestinian freedom fighters, like Hamas members, with the virulent [extreme right-wing] zionist thugs that throng extreme right-wing [cross out “that throng extreme right-wing”] and religious parties and groups. Describing the Holy City as a place ‘where dreams collide,’ he accused both ‘Jewish and Palestinian extremists’ of abusing the name of religion. ‘Often inflammatory words are backed with financial support for extremist groups which murder innocent people and justify it in the name of religion,’ he said. ‘There can be no peace if violence is used to threaten and browbeat others.’
But although Carey was only backing the position of his government and that of the US on the plan for the new settlement in east Jerusalem (both UK foreign minister and zionist activist Malcolm Rifkind, and president Bill Clinton criticized it) as well as on the Oslo sellout, the Times of London, which covered the sermon, took him to task for imperilling the peace process, encouraging Palestinian ambitions and underrating Israeli prime minister Netanyahu’s concessions and courage.
In a scathing editorial the day after the sermon, the right-wing daily said the archbishop was ‘unwise to stray beyond matters spiritual’ that are best left to the politicians.
The most charitable thing that can be said about the censure is that the editors of The Times must have a short memory, as they seem to have forgotten that, on two occasions when Carey went beresk in southern Sudan, they backed him, giving him space in the paper to write highly inflammatory articles calling for international Christian action against the Islamic government of president Omar Hasan al-Bashir.
During a four-day visit to southern Sudan ending on January 2, 1994, the Anglican archbishop called for a Christian revolt against Islamic Khartoum. He told village congregations that they were the victims of religious persecution by Muslims and that his mission was to alert the outside world and to exploit his political contacts to secure support for their cause. The Times duly gave him space to reach a wider audience, publishing, three days after the end of his visit, a provocative article in which he appealed to the British to rush to the rescue of the beleaguered Christian minority, claiming, in the face of facts, that Christians constituted a majority of the southern population.
He wrote: ‘The south longs for peace, but not at any price. It must go hand in hand with justice and freedom. The predominantly Christian south is not prepared to accept the forcible imposition of religion or religious codes of law!’
In his recent Jerusalem sermon, he said the Israelis, not the Muslim Palestinians, ‘longed for peace’ - a phrase [he] is rather fond of using but not in connection with Muslims. Nor did he call for justice or freedom for the Palestinians, as he had done in his Times article in the case of the Sudanese Christians.
On the contrary, he castigated those Palestinians, like Hamas members, who stand for peace with honour but not capitulation as extremists who must be banished.
Another glaring ommition in Carey’s sermon is the lack of condemnation of the Christian extremists, like the Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, who want Palestinian Muslims not only out of Jerusalem but the entire West Bank as well. The group was founded in 1980 in protest against countries establishing their embassies in Tel Aviv instead of Jerusalem.
Muslimedia - April 1-15, 1997