God-TV sows seeds of discontent in Israel

God-TV sows seeds of discontent in Israel December 29, 2010

I think that I shall never see/A poem lovely as a tree

THERE’S an element of poignancy, and not a little irony in the opening lines of (Alfred) Joyce Kilmer’s poem, Trees, given the news that a deranged Christian organisation, God-TV, is conspiring with Israel to use a tree-planting programme to oust Bedouin Arabs from a village near Beersheeba, the Negev’s main city.

According to this report, both Jewish and Bedouin human rights groups have condemned the “God-TV Forest” programme, accusing God-TV and the Jewish National Front Fund of teaming up to force the Bedouin out of the area to make way for Jewish-only communities by planting a total of a million trees over a large area of desert
The JNF, an international non-profit organisation in charge of forestation and developing Jewish settlements in Israel, received $500,000 from God-TV to plant some of the trees, according to the channel’s filings to US tax authorities last year.
No one from God-TV was available for comment, but in a video posted on its website, Rory Alec, the channel’s co-founder, said he had begun fundraising for the forest after receiving “an instruction from God” a few years ago. He said God had told him:

Prepare the land for the return of my Son.

Standing next to the “God-TV Forest” sign, Alec thanked thousands of viewers for making donations to “sow a seed for God”, adding:

I tell you Jesus is coming back soon!

Part of the forest has been planted on land claimed by the Aturi tribe, whose village, al-Araqib, is nearby.
Al-Araqib has been demolished eight times in recent months by the Israeli police as officials increase the pressure on the 350 inhabitants to move to Rahat, an under-funded, government-planned township nearby.
Efforts to move 90,000 Bedouin off their lands close to Beersheba have been intensifying since 2003, when the Israeli government announced plans to move them into a handful of townships.
The Bedouin have resisted, complaining that the official communities are little more than urban reservations that languish at the bottom of the country’s social and economic tables.
Earlier this year, Joe Stork, the deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division, criticised the repeated attempts by Israeli authorities to eradicate the village and displace its residents.

Tearing down an entire village and leaving its inhabitants homeless without exhausting all other options for settling long-standing land claims is outrageous.

Neve Gordon, a politics professor at Ben Gurion University in Beersheba, said the JNF, which has semi-governmental status in Israel, had set a “dangerous precedent” in accepting money from God-TV.

The Israeli authorities are playing with fire. This dispute between the Israeli government and the Bedouin is a long one that until now focused on the question of land rights. But the involvement of extremist Christian groups like God-TV is likely to turn this into a religious confrontation, and that will be much harder to resolve.

The channel, which has become one of the most popular global evangelical stations since its founding in Britain 15 years ago, claims a potential audience of up to a half-billion viewers, including 20 million in the United States.
Stephen Sizer, a British vicar and prominent critic of Christian Zionist groups, described God-TV as part of an evangelical movement that believes Israel’s establishment and expansion are bringing nearer the “end times” – or the moment when, according to Christians, Jesus will return for the second time.
Its followers, he added, believed that, by dispossessing Palestinians of their land and replacing them with Jews, Jesus’s return could be expedited.

Funding aliyah [Jewish immigration] and planting trees in the desert may look innocuous but it’s actually their way to side with the Israeli right’s hardline policies towards the Palestinian population.

Hat tip: Alan

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  • Don

    Surely any sane Israeli can see that the Evangelical Zionists are trying to use Israel for their mad fantasy of end times and have no concern at all for jewish lives, any more than they have for palestinian lives.
    Hesh had this guy’s number.

  • Newspaniard

    Not sure of the geography here. Is the disputed lands in which the Bedouin are living in Israel or outside it? If in, is this a case of Israeli bully boy developers snatching the land for a quick buck? From the above it looks as if the Bedouin are the victims here but I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Israeli victim cards floating about.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    As Don says, evangelical nutters like this aren’t in it to establish a forest in the desert to make it green, all they want is to stir up as much trouble as they can to bring on the Rapture asap.

  • barriejohn

    Negev: Desert region, southern Israel. Bounded by the Sinai Peninsula and the Jordan Rift Valley, it has an area of about 4,700 sq mi (12,200 sq km). It was a pastoral region in biblical times and an important source of grain for the Roman Empire. After the Arab conquest of Palestine (7th century AD), it was left desolate, and for more than 1,200 years it had only a small population of Bedouin. Modern agricultural development began with three kibbutzim in 1943; others were founded after World War II (1939 – 45), when irrigation projects were initiated. Assigned to Israel in the partition of Palestine in 1948, it was the scene of clashes between Israeli and Egyptian forces in 1948 – 49. It is the site of many preplanned Israeli settlements, including the port city of Elat, Israel’s outlet to the Red Sea. Beersheba is an important administrative centre. The region produces grain, fruit, and vegetables; mineral resources include potash, bromine, and copper. (Britannica)
    Don’t forget, though, that to the Zionists (Jewish and Christian) Israel will have ALL the territory promised to Abraham – from “the river of Egypt” to the Euphrates. (Gen.15:18-21)

  • barriejohn

    If it has never been your inestimable privilege – not to say pleasure – to listen in to GodTV, then can I acquaint you with the sort of unadulterated shit that its founders purvey, in this little clip?

  • barriejohn

    More about the tree planting here, but who cares about the rights of a few Bedouin when “God” is at work?
    If this doesn’t turn your stomach then nothing will!

  • Har Davids

    For the greater go(o)d, who cares about some Bedouins who are probably neither Jews nor Christians? With Jesus back, the mass killings can begin and the ‘Chosen’, not many of them visitors of this site, will go up to Heaven with him.
    I wonder what it must be like to be Jewish and accept gifts from people whose only plan is to have you murdered by their Prince of Peace so they can go to that glorious after-life? Talking about Greeks bearing gifts!!
    P.S. Watched the clips and felt nauseated.

  • Alan

    Rory and Wendy are a couple of charlatans a kind of Christian Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. The only place this couple should be is in prison. I can’t believe people actually give money to these fuckers. Their network broadcasts other con artists such as Copeland, Robertson and Hinn. Christian fascists the lot of them.

  • Alan

    @Barriejohn I bet you can’t beat this for nauseating Christian sycophancy

  • barriejohn

    Alan: They’re just kids, so I wouldn’t be too harsh! And NOBODY gives money to Rory and Wendy – they just “plant seeds”, dontchaknow? (I did enjoy the Hindley and Brady reference, BTW!!)

  • What about Palestinian Christians? Not as though they live a luxury lifestyle in Israel, is it? In fact they fare almost as badly as Christians in Muslim countries.

  • Stonyground

    These end timers don’t have anything to do with the lot that have given us a definite date next year do they? For those not familiar with that group of nutters, the day for pointing and laughing will be May 22nd.
    There is something pretty perverse about people who just can’t wait for the end of the world. Suppose that I was raising funds to build a huge global network of atomic bombs so that I could wipe out life on earth, surely I would be considered the worst kind of criminal. These people are largly ignored because everyone knows that they are delusional but the intent is the same.

  • barriejohn
  • barriejohn

    No Stonyground, but both make the same error of attaching conditions to The Second Coming. This lot believe that the Jews have to have the whole of the territory that “God” promised to Abraham “restored” to them (ie restored when it never was theirs anyway) before their precious Jesus can come back again. As has been said, this is all very odd when you consider that to strict Jews anyone who believes that Jesus was The Messiah is a blasphemer and heretic of the very worst kind!

  • Broga

    @barriejohn: This wouldn’t be the same Abraham, would it, who perpetrated such terrible child abuse that even Roman Catholic priests would find difficult to equal? He put his son on a heap of brushwood, ready to slit the child’s throat, before incinerating him. The effect on the son stuns the imagination. However, an angel appeared and said something along the lines of, “Just a bit of a test, Abraham, you needn’t kill and burn him.”

  • Don

    I know this is a frequent link, but for good reason.

  • Broga

    Thanks for that. I loved it.

  • barriejohn

    Could be, Broga, but then there do appear to be two Abrahams in The Bible – one a man of considerable substance, who was able to raise an army, and the other a poor, wandering pilgrim on this earth. I’m not sure which of these was responsible for said deed!

  • Alan

    Just when you thought things couldn’t get any stranger in Religious loony land looks like Al-Qeda inspired Islamic nutters are targeting Scientology cranks. They should sit down and watch South Park

  • NeoWolfe

    Israel is has one of the most complex cultural melting pots on the planet. Thus, the fact that it became a thriving western culture, a formidable military power, is amazing.
    One myth: That Israel was established as reparation to the Jews because of the haulocaust. No, it was negotiated as part of the spoils of WWII as Allied partner in the middle east.
    Another myth: That when Israel became a state, it kicked all the Palestinians off their family properties. The real truth: every Palestinian kept their property except those who chose to move across the border into the refugee camps, and failed to file their property claim with the new government. Those who stayed are now Israelli citizens with the right to vote.
    We know western cultures are impeded by fundamentalists. Imagine that on steroids, that is what Israel deals with. There is a very viable blok of Israelli voters that believe that Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip are all god given property of the Jews, and that any Arabs living on that land are trespassers. And Israelli politicians have to pander to those idiots, just like they do in the UK and the US.
    However, since Israel is a secular government, and Judaism doesn’t recognize Jesus as the messiah, I have intense doubts that a move by some Christian madmen that would result in further political complications, will ever gain traction.
    Did you know that Yitzhak Rabin, an Israelli prime minister, was assassinated by a fundamentalist Israelli Jew, because he thought he was giving away to much in the name of peace? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Itzhak_Rabin

  • barriejohn

    Israel may well claim to be a secular state, but every administration is dependent on the Zionists to prop it up, so their wishes are pandered to. Strangely enough though, the Zionists do not favour “occupation” of Arab land, as they say that “God will give it to us” (as happened after The Captivity). They are remarkably similar to fundamentalist Christians in this respect, who refuse to vote or be politically active, claiming that “God” will work out his own purposes, but agitate like mad to get what they want!

  • mikespeir

    Keep stirring the pot, Christians. You may get your Armageddon yet.

  • NeoWolfe

    BJohn said:
    “Strangely enough though, the Zionists do not favour “occupation” of Arab land, as they say that “God will give it to us” (as happened after The Captivity)”
    According to the bible, after the escape from Egypt, the promised land was taken by use of brutal military genocide, under the command of Joshua (the same name translated as “Jesus”). Some cities, every man, woman, and child, even livestock! were murdered. They plundered the gold, but could only keep it if they purified it with fire.
    I am not calling you wrong, but I am left wondering what parallel scripture they use to justify such a viewpoint. Count your blessings I guess, such a belief would render their fanaticism more benign.

  • barriejohn

    The situation is very complicated where orthodox Jews are concerned, as there are umpteen different groups, all performing mental gymnastics in their interpretation of their sacred writings. This does help clarify what I said:
    Some of the orthodox Jews are passionately anti-Zionist, but there is a lot of overlap in the different views that they hold.
    Rabbi Yosi b’Rebbi Hanina explains (Kesubos 111a) that the Lord imposed “Three Oaths” on the nation of Israel: a) Israel should not return to the Land together, by force; b) Israel should not rebel against the other nations; and c) The nations should not subjugate Israel too harshly. According to Teitelbaum, the second oath is relevant concerning the subsequent wars fought between Israel and Arab nations.

  • barriejohn

    I also came across this interesting little piece recently. It amazes me that people on other sites get quite indignant when I try to point out the extent of this territory that the Jews are supposed to “inherit”, as if I’m making it all up!

  • NeoWolfe

    I know, the land promised to Abraham was HUGE!!!!, but they never even managed to occupy a significant percentage. When they reached their limits of how much they could occupy and hold, they were continuely harrassed by the Amorites and the Philistines. The Israelites were badass warriors, cunning and ruthless, but even that couldn’t make a fairy tale come true.
    Did the reality ever set in that the land really belonged to those who had made a living from it for generations, or was it Yahweh’s to take by brutal military force? Why didn’t god create a drought that would cause the residents to leave voluntarily. Then the Israelites could move in and set up their Edenic lives. The answer is that religion is bullshit.

  • The best response to the poem “Trees” is Phillip Appleman’s poem, “Fleas.” The link goes to Dan Barker singing it in his album “Beware of Dogma.” The best line is “Poems can make you want to yell, but only god can give you hell.”