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October 28, 2016 / 26 Tishri, 5777
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New Anti-Semitism Tailored for Evangelicals

"For any self-respecting person, the endorsement of terror... at a Christian conference is obscene." — Kay Wilson, tour guide attacked by Palestinian terrorists.

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Christians in the Middle East

Christians in the Middle East
Photo Credit: Miriam Alster/Flash 90

In what was dubbed an “unprecedented advisory,” Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a warning to Christians to steer clear of the “Christ at the Checkpoint” [CATC] conference that took place from March 8th-15th in Bethlehem, and coincided with Israel Apartheid week there. Israel Today , a publication that investigated the conference, concluded that it could pose “a long term threat to Israel’s security.” According to the official statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

“The attempt to use religious motifs in order to mobilize political propaganda and agitate the feelings of the faithful through the manipulation of religion and politics is an unacceptable and shameful act. Using religion for the purpose of incitement in the service of political interests stains the person who does it with a stain of indelible infamy.”

A ministry official stated that, “the conference is designed for the evangelical Christian leadership leadership — an extremely important audience to us.” Christians around the world should pay close attention to the Israeli government’s concern about the dangerous propaganda being fanned and fueled at “Christ at the Checkpoint.” According to the conference website: “the checkpoint and the wall become a focal point and symbol of the conflict.” Yet the reason for the wall and the checkpoint is never mentioned — not the daily incitement to destroy Israel, the countless terrorist attacks against it which necessitated the barrier, nor the seemingly corrupt leadership of the Palestinian people.

Looking further into the agenda of this event, the Jewish National News Service pointed out that “Christ at the Checkpoint” emphasizes replacement theology, which teaches that the Christian Church has replaced Israel and the Jewish people in God’s purpose and plan so that the Jews are no longer God’s “chosen people,” and that Christians have replaced them. This is a source of division in the Churches and a stance many Christians resolutely oppose.

Bethlehem Anglican Canon Rev. Naim Ateek , president of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center, spoke at the inaugural CATC in 2010; he is one of the first church leaders to connect Liberation Theology with the Palestinian cause. Liberation Theology is a political movement in the Catholic church that stresses liberation from unjust economic or political circumstances; in the Palestinian cause, it replaces the Jewish Messiah in scripture with that of a Palestinian Jesus or martyr. As an aggressive anti-Israel campaigner, Ateek stated in an Easter message he once delivered: “In this season of Lent, it seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him. It only takes people of insight to see the hundreds of thousands of crosses throughout the land, Palestinian men, women, and children being crucified. Palestine has become one huge golgotha. The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily. Palestine has become the place of the skull.”

Executive Director David Brog of Christians United for Israel described the speakers of CATC as the “who’s who of the new anti-Israel narrative…in a guise of love…. who claim to be “pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian, pro-peace.” Just before the conference convened, Brog warned that “almost every speaker will blame Palestinian suffering on Israel and Israel alone.” He calls CATC a “dangerously one-sided propaganda campaign against Israel.”

According to a World Net Daily report, Brog later lamented about the conference that: “They are so careful about excluding possible justification for Israel’s actions that not a word was uttered about the 60 missiles fired from Gaza into southern Israel. … they are so disconnected from real Christian suffering that there’s been no mention of the besieged Christian communities of Egypt, Iraq or Syria.”

The report also quotes Dexter van Zile, a researcher and writer for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America [CAMERA] as saying: “The story told in this movement is of Israeli guilt and Palestinian suffering and innocence.”

Bishraw Awad, former president of Bethlehem Bible College opened the CATC with a pledge of Allegiance to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas: “As evangelicals we pledge our allegiance to Palestinian President Abbas and the Prime Minister.”

Not only did Abbas complete his PhD with a dissertation that was replete with holocaust denial, he recently reaffirmed that the Palestinians will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state and also declared that any Palestinian state must be completely free of Jews. Yet, possibly to be on both sides of the issue, Alex Awad, a professor at Bethlehem Bible College stated he is “not against Jews living in this country,” emphasizing that the “gospel is and should be good news for both Palestinians and Israelis.”

Just before the turn of the new year, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned Abbas for referring to Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails as “heroes.” The prime minister rightly stated that “murderers are not heroes” and added that, “Peace can be achieved only when the education toward incitement and toward the destruction of Israel is stopped.”

In response to the groundbreaking warning about the CATC by the Israeli government, CATC speaker Gary M. Burge, professor of New Testament at Wheaton College in Illinois, told Christianity Today by email that the statement was “tragic on so many levels” and “ill-informed.” He also accused the Israeli government of political propaganda, of being absurd and called the statement “an incitement.” Ironically, he substantiated the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s warning by accusing the Israeli government of being “worried about this gathering because every year evangelicals are growing in their understanding of this conflict and questioning the standard Israeli narrative of things” — even as during the conference, rockets were being launched from inside Gaza across the border into southern Israel.

For those who need a reminder about the contents of the Charter of Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip and has a joint agreement with Abbas and Fatah, it states that Israel “will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.” It also echoes the motto of its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood: “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”

Despite the anti-Israel propaganda, Luke Moon, of the Institute on Religion & Democracy in Washington, D.C, issued a critical warning about the conference’s agenda, referring to the organizers of the CATC as “saavy” and having “found a way to reach Middle America….they took the liberals out of the program and kept the conservatives. The liberals were prominent at CATC 2010 and 2012, but they are gone.”

Back in 2012, David Parsons, media director of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem [ICEJ], warned that “what makes this ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ conference unusual is that it is largely an initiative of Christians from the Evangelical movement, whose ranks traditionally have held favorable views on Israel.” ICEJ Executive Director Reverend Malcolm Hedding — a South African-born anti-apartheid activist, theologian and evangelical minister — also pointed out in 2012 that “certain segments of evangelical Christianity are being drawn away from the movement’s traditional support for Israel by those claiming the moral high ground in advocating for social justice.” He stated that many of these “liberal, anti-Israel Evangelicals” are showing up at the CATC conference and they view Israel as an “occupying power oppressing the Palestinians.” Hedding also pointed out a disturbing fact that they use Israel’s security “wall as a prominent symbol of injustice” and that “such imagery is powerful and takes well informed minds to counter them.” He further warned that “the lack of information has started to dupe many Evangelicals, who are being shamed into abandoning Israel because they are supposedly uncompassionate and blocking peace;” and that finally, “this new initiative aims to totally discredit pro-Israel Evangelicals with clever lies and distortions.”

Yet as Luke Moon warned, this year was different as CATC for the most part, “took the liberals out of the program.” It also included some opposing views. For example, Oral Roberts University President William “Billy” Wilson, unequivocally distanced himself from the doctrine of “replacement theology” which asserts that Christians are the “new Jews.” A couple of other speakers pointed out that Israel’s security wall is in place to save Israeli lives from terrorism.

Despite the attempt to shroud the real agenda of the “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference, its manifesto is revealing . It “condemns all forms of violence unequivocally,” yet states that “Christians must understand the global context for the rise of extremist Islam” and furthermore “blames the ‘occupation’ as the core issue of the conflict;” and although CATC boasts a mandate of dialogue and reconciliation between Israeli and Palestinian believers, there are still those voices that are seemingly rejected from the conference. In a report released by Israel Today, entitled, “The Message ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ Didn’t Want to Hear,” it is argued that CATC organizers do not want to hear from those Israeli voices that have been victimized by Palestinian terrorism or able to expose the Palestinian nationalist agenda.

One case has been highlighted: in late 2010, Israeli tour guide Kay Wilson and her visiting Christian friend, Kristine Luken, were attacked by Palestinian terrorists outside Jerusalem. Luken was killed and Wilson suffered severe injuries. Wilson approached one of the CATC speakers about speaking at the 2012 convocation, but was told that her story was “not what the Lord wants,” a phrase that is sadly abused by some Christian leaders to exercise control — akin to a kind of spiritual or psychological extortion — over the follower. Wilson then expressed dismay about “how any Israeli…. Messianic believer, could justify participating in a conference that has chosen to associate itself with theologians advocating Replacement Theology and Palestinian officials with clear ties to recognized terrorist organizations.” She further stated, “For any self-respecting person, and especially for Israelis such as myself, the endorsement of terror by association, at a Christian conference, is obscene.”

Wilson is not off base; Israeli government officials have expressed the concern that the “blame Israel” propaganda coming out of the conference “ultimately serves, even if unintentionally, to encourage violence and stir up even more radical Islamic terror.” They say it is “just the type of religion-fueled imagery that has in years past resulted in the worst kind of Christian anti-Semitism” — disturbing words, given recent anti-Semitic Church history and the state of inertia that gripped the Church during the Nazi attempt to wipe out the Jewish people.

In the article “The Role of the Churches: Compliance and Confrontation” published by the ADL’s Dimensions, A Journal of Holocaust Studies, Victoria J. Barnett wrote, “Churches throughout Europe were mostly silent while Jews were persecuted, deported and murdered.” Barnett goes on to point out the “few Christians in the Protestant Confessing Church who demanded that their Church take a public stand in defense of the Jews” and how their efforts “were overruled by Church leaders who wanted to avoid any conflict with the Nazi regime.” Although some Church leaders across Europe and North America condemned the Nazis, there was a priority of how to maintain “good relations with colleagues in the German Churches.”

While many Churches have acknowledged their failures and complacency during Hitler’s reign of terror — with confessions of guilt by Catholic Churches in France and Germany, as well as by many major Protestant denominations — there is a pattern of repeating the anti-Semitic transgressions of history that is evident today. The United Church of Canada , for instance, has instituted boycott and divestment drives against Israel that are causing dissension in the church; as well as in the Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopal Churches and the World Council of Church’s Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel [EAPPI], which supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions [BDS] movement and a Palestinian “right of return”.

The BDS movement has been heavily engaged in targeting the Churches because (as stated on its website):

“Religious institutions are seen in many communities as embodying important moral and ethical principles. As such, their support of the Israeli state imparts a sense of legitimacy onto its actions. Religious institutions must understand that the Israeli state operates on exclusionary basis and actively discriminates against non-Jewish religious faiths. This applies especially to Palestinian Christians and Muslims.”

Robert O. Smith, Program Director for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America/Middle East and North Africa, and co-moderator of the Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum of the World Council of Churches, authored a book, More Desired Than our Owne Salvation, in which he argues that “fundamental presumptions about Israel’s innocence and collective immorality of Palestinians have been conflated with general suspicions of Islam, suspicions developed through Western Christian history.” Smith portrays American Christian Zionist leaders as “lunatics, heralding God’s judgments with an apocalyptic literalism,” yet he fails to make any case against the validity of Christian Zionism. He opportunely ignores the historic Jewish struggle against Arab nationalism and voices such as that of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, both of whom have called for the death of all Jews.

Returning to the “Christ at the Checkpoint” manifesto: it states that “Christians must understand the global context for the rise of extremist Islam.” One wonders what these organizers think that context is, given the bloodshed in Syria, the widespread slaughter and persecution of Christians in Islamic states, the violence between Shia and Sunni traditions and the genocide against non-Arabs in Sudan’s Darfur region, as just a few examples.

As for the manifesto stating that it “condemns all forms of violence unequivocally,” the CATC conference gave a warm welcome to a protagonist of violence on its Facebook page: “We are glad to confirm that his Excellency the Palestinian Prime Minister Dr. Rami Hamdallah will attend and speak in the opening session of the conference.” Hamdallah — who reportedly ended up backing out the last minute — once oversaw a Hamas-sponsored “Splendors of Terror” exhibition put on at An-Najah University in September 2001, where students reenacted the gruesome suicide bombing of the Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem that had taken place only six weeks before the exhibition, in which 15 civilians, including seven children and a pregnant woman, were murdered, and another 130 wounded. Under “Hamdallah’s tutelage, [the attack] was commemorated as a heroic act of Palestinian resistance.”

In terms of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, long before Israel even became a state, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was working with Hitler to wipe out the Jews. Another point missing from CATC is understanding the sacredness of Muslim lands to the faith of the Islamist as well as the duty of conquest. In 641, two decades after Muhammad’s flight to Medina, Caliph Umar issued a decree that Jews and Christians be expelled from Arabia in accordance with Muhammad’s eventual decree upon his deathbed: “Let there not be two religions in Arabia.” To this day, Islamists seek to wipe Israel’s existence off the face of the map, as is routinely done — literally, symbolically and wishfully — in Palestinian textbooks and maps, in which Israel has been totally displaced. Israel was attacked by Arab states in 1948; forced to engage in a pre-emptive strike in 1967, and is currently under constant threat of obliteration from surrounding Arab States. It is worrisome, as recognized by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that any Christian conference such as “Christ at the Checkpoint” can profess an agenda of peace, while attempting “to use religious motifs in order to mobilize political propaganda,” presumably for Israel’s destruction.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Christine Williams

About the Author: Christine Williams is a Canadian journalist and award-winning interviewer. She is a regular blogger for NewsRealBlog.com, where her articles are frequently republished online at USA Today, FrontPage Magazine and Islamist Watch, among others.

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  1. This is very dangerous, the Catholic Church is involved, I believe they are the ones who created Islam way back when.

  2. The Catholic Church created Islam??? Islam as a reaction to Christian Paganism, perhaps. But intentionally?? Perhaps a little real history might inform you, Melva. Couldn’t hurt. ||Christians, all of them, will in time turn on Jews even if they are in support now. It happens again and again with Christians. They approach then attack, reapproach and then Christianity seeing Jews will not embrace their god will turn again for our blood; repeat, repeat. This is why I want, nor will ever make a covenant with Christians. They are our enemies no matter how they claim otherwise. But the idea that Christians must have an anti-Semitism tailored for them is laughable–they practically invented it.

  3. WHERE ARE THE ELIJAHS OF GOD TODAY? – Not In Attendance at the ‘Christ At The Checkpoint’ Conference! I recently volunteered and lived in Israel for two years. I not only lived amongst Jewish Israelis, but also at one point, with Arab Muslims, as well as getting to know Christian Arabs. I have seen EVERY side of the conflict, from a very personal level, since I count all as my new found friends. Unfortunately, Christ At The Checkpoint is a well orchestrated propaganda machine, which professes to seek peace, justice and reconcilliation on behalf of Christ, while intentionally achieving just the opposite. Many of the well meaning Evangelical leaders involved, including most if not all who spoke and participated, have simply been duped. Sadly, others have lost their spines as well as their voices. The Nazi SWASTIKA adorning the hotel facade where the conference was held, said It all. How any invited Christian speaker could enter without noticing, and condemning publicly its display, is beyond comprehension. Sadly, this will go down as a missed historical moment, when many Evangelical leaders were handed the opportunity to speak up against anti-semitism, but instead remained silent. I dread to think of the high profile leaders who, during this conference, naively networked with, and scheduled these wolves in sheep’s clothing, or rebranded liberation theologists, to come and spread their disinformation at their host’s churches and organizations.

  4. Julia Bowman says:

    I can’t say I blame you honey……….xo

  5. The one thing Christians must know is that Christians and Jews are not part of the same religion and we do not need anyone to help us, redefine, or assign Jews anything. Consider the relationship between Jews and Buddhists, or Martians and learn from that.

  6. I wonder what then you would say or how you would even begin to know or define a Hebrew Catholic as myself…I certainly do !

  7. I believe that they are evangelical because there is a church in the US that is very anti- Semitic..
    Meanwhile Christians and Jews are the infidels, we should be united against Islam. Christians in Israel are protect and they serve in the IDF.
    Israel is a light unto the world, only the blind cannot see.

  8. Jesse Long says:

    This is, sadly, Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and Spain, and the Communist USSR, among other things, all over again. The Book of Ecclesiastes and William Shakespeare were both right when they said that there was nothing new that was under the sun and what was done before will be done again.

  9. The covenant is to the Jews not with Christians.
    The rest is imagination .
    This name that we are using is also a invention ,
    Hebrew has no W.
    At the end Israel always be the house of Hashem .

  10. The covenant is to the Jews not with Christians.
    The rest is imagination .
    This name that we are using is also a invention ,
    Hebrew has no W.
    At the end Israel always be the house of Hashem .

  11. Ruth Hirt says:

    Evangelicals and other Christian outfits endorsing hate, divestment, boycott, sanctions against Israel, regardless whom they may be favoring, are outrightly side-stepping Christianity's prime Biblical creed. Avoid them please.

  12. They also endorse violence if they support organizations that support terrorism. I'm no Biblical scholar or anything, but I never heard of Jesus saying anything like, "Death to the Jews" and I'm pretty sure the "golden rule" was to be applied to all, not everybody but the Jews. This group seems to be endorsing concepts that are very anti-christian, but they wouldn't be the first to use the cross as tool of conquest.

  13. David Matos, I don't speak for any group other than me, myself, and what I think is fair. The terrorist "smear" was referring to how a "peaceful" group like the CATC had joined their "snow-white" hands with the bloodied hands of men who've sworn to wipe Israel and/or the Jewish people from the face of the planet. That's just an honest assessment of the situation though. I'm sure if you listen to these people with ear-plugs on, they sound more peaceful….have you tried turning your speakers on when you watch these guys on Youtube? I think I found the problem. When you can't listen to the violent rhetoric or hear the blasts of the mortar shells next to your house or your children's school, you probably get a little confused.

    You want to talk about human rights? What about the right to self-defense? If a man gets punched in the head multiple times, and defends himself by punching back, would you blame him? If a man is told he can't punch back and he buys a helmet to protect his head instead, would you blame him? Then why in the hell do you blame Israel for trying to find a little peace on their tiny part of this earth? Yes, palestinians may have grievances against Israel (and mostly the PA), but be real…everything has at least two sides.

  14. David Matos says:

    Roasted Locust Still smearing away I see. You've written all of this and have nothing convincing to present to substantiate your claims. A lot of sound and fury and yet no meat to your argument. Just name-calling and labeling. Of course you hate talking about human rights, because it points out that Israel stealing its Palestinian neighbor's lands is the root of the conflict. I sympathize with the desire for a Jewish homeland, but creating a Jewish homeland by ethnic cleansing the native Palestinian Christian and Muslim population is simply wrong. As for the BDS movement, it was the same nonviolent tactics that helped end apartheid in South Africa… the Israeli government's version of apartheid needs to go. Honest people of conscience understand this.

  15. Sounds like "Black Liberation Theology" of Wright & the radical James Cone!! Just a different disguise.

  16. AND if they want to address the abuse and unjust circumstances they need to change what PA Arabs do to their women & children. It is also easy to see how many Xians can be swayed this way, since Xianity is based on the notion of them being the New &/or real Israel. I was one of them til I saw the light of Torah. Psalm 119. Am Yisrael Chai & Torah Ora!!

  17. David Matos, you can't accuse me of smearing anything when you accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing. Of all the countries in the region, they're the one that does not strip the rights from religious minorities, including Christians and Muslims. They don't execute gays or raped women either. If you were truly in favor of human rights, you wouldn't be so hellbent on destroying them. What is the real reason you don't like Israel? And where should they live once you and your kind evict them from their homes once again? Maybe you should invite them to live in South Carolina where they'll feel at home, surrounded by bigoted neighbors. I like how you guys have gotten over burning-crosses and wearing sheets over your heads – you've become a bit more sophisticated since the 60's almost to the point where a person couldn't smell the pig on you.

  18. David Matos, you are partially right. Since those 2.2 million people living in the west bank are not Israeli citizens, maybe they should find a new place to live. They control Gaza, so that's one place they can go. Are you implying that the borders should be drawn so that the Palestinians control all of the west bank, as well as Gaza? You might as well give the northern half of Israel to them if you're just going to sandwich Israel between a rock and a hard place (not that it's your decision). And would you give them voting rights knowing they'll just vote you out of existence? The last time I checked, even US citizenship requires the newly-sworn citizens to swear allegiance to the US. It's madness for you to think people who've sworn to destroy Israel would make good citizens of Israel. At the very best, you might get them to be bearable neighbors with a big enough fence and a bigger stick until the neighbors embrace peace over violence.

    You can talk all you want, but if you're really concerned with human rights and improving the lives of Palestinians, you'd encourage them to stop inciting hatred against Israelis. If Israelis weren't constantly under the threat of the knife, gun, or bomb, they'd probably loosen up a bit (and here you are, calling them racists for trying to survive…and I have no clue?). And the humanitarian issues they face could vastly be improved if all the billions of dollars given to the PA each year went towards improving the basic needs of the people rather than their base desire to destroy Israel. The ball's in their court – they can help themselves rather than hurting Israel, and once the peaceful among them represent the majority, they'll thrive.

    BTW, how many Israelis are there in the world? Whatever the number, it's limited. I'd like to know why they don't get the same considerations as others who are much larger in number. Few in numbers, they're expected to lay down and die. Why? And here they are in a sea of animosity, and you call them the racists? You accuse them of ethnic cleansing as well. Either you've got a wicked sense of humor in the literal sense of the phrase, or you're seriously clueless about what "ethnic cleansing" means – you actually think there'd be 2.2 mill Palestinians in the westbank and another couple million in Gaza if a systematic approach to dealing with those numbers was to be applied this day and age with modern science and tech? And of all people to accuse of such a thing? You either play with words without knowing their meaning or you've got a greasy fork for a tongue, son. I suggest you swallow those words or your tongue until you open your eyes.

  19. David Matos, like you're part of the solution to this problem. The only solutions people like you are truly interested in are "final solutions."

    Go learn some history. Go learn who coined the term "palestine". You accuse Israel of ethnic cleansing, and here you are using a word coined by one of the largest practitioners of ethnic cleansing, the Romans. Of course, there aren't many Romans living there today, but a few hundred years after the Romans did their part to "solve" the same problem you're hellbent on solving, another empire came into Israel, practicing their own method of ethnic cleansing against the Jewish people, and to this day, they call themselves "palestinians" even though the vast majority came from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, or Jordan during British occupation of the region.

    Why is it so important to you to remove the Jewish people and culture from Israel? The world doesn't need the likes of you trying to apply your own "solutions" to the "problem" you call Jews. You're just another donkey trying to kick them when they're down. Guess what, jackass? Every donkey kicks its last. Do the world a favor – the next time you want to be part of the "final solution", realize that you're the problem that needs to be solved. Be the peacemaker in the only way men like you can be – by resting in it.

  20. "Palestinian Arab" is about the same as saying, "white guy from Chicago." They're Arabs who lived in the region for a few generations, not hundreds. The majority of links to the land are with the Jewish people, the Jewish faith. You can rename it all you want, but since the majority of Palestinians don't claim their Jewish heritage, they forfeit any claims to the land. BTW, all people are related. All people are linked. I don't make the same distinctions as you.

    BTW, I never said anything hateful about Palestinians. If anything, I've been hateful towards you, because I see through your bs (a reminder that I need to eat more fiber to avoid pushing so hard against a piece of crap). I've checked your FB page, and you pretend to be anti-war and anti-violence. You pretend to be a proponent for peace. And yet, you have yet to denounce the violence against Israel in all of these exchanges. Why is that? Do you not value Jewish blood as much as Palestinian blood? That's all I was waiting for, and you could not admit that violent acts against innocent people are wrong. How can you build a lasting peace when you condone acts of violence? You talk about justice while refusing to see the injustice in killing innocent civilians, mothers and children included. Your version of justice obviously doesn't apply to Jewish people.

    And since you offer nothing new other than an old hate repackaged, I'm done with you. BTW, I'm visualizing a toilet flushing now – it feels good to drop a deuce from time to time. Now if only I could stop arguing with them…

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