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Christian vigil… not so Christian

  • BDS
A Christian prayer vigil for Palestine is being called for this weekend by groups aligned with the BDS movement. However, many leading Christian groups have no knowledge of it.
by NICOLA MILTZ | May 10, 2018

Set to take place at Constitution Hill on Sunday, the event is billed as an initiative of the Christian community of South Africa. However, many Christian groups were not informed, nor would they support such an initiative, they say.

Under the banner of the Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSL) and BDS, the event is being advertised as a vigil by Christians in South Africa in support of Palestine. It is to coincide with the March of Return, which has seen daily protests along the Israel-Gaza border in recent weeks. It lists the SA Council of Churches as being in support of the vigil, and even lists SA Jews for a Free Palestine as supporting the Christian initiative.

However, several Christian churches this week said they would be surprised if Christians turned out in their numbers as the majority of South African Christians supported the State of Israel and were apolitical.

Reverend Reuben Chapasuka, founder and president of the Cape to Cairo Israel Mission, said he knew nothing about such a prayer vigil and if there was one, his organisation would never support it.

His organisation represents thousands in South Africa and is represented in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Ghana and Mozambique, as well as further afield in India, Sri Lanka and Israel.

“I stand with Israel and the Jewish people. I can’t put my feet in two places,” said Chapasuka.

He said he would be surprised to see a large turnout of Christians at an event that was aligned with the BDS.

“In my view, this is BDS propaganda and very few Christians support this kind of thing. At my church we pray for Israel and the Jewish people wherever they are, and for the land of Israel and whoever lives in it.”

He said that at the organisation’s forthcoming Africa-Israel-America (AIA) leadership conference, taking place at the end of the month, delegates would be singing Hatikvah.

SA Friends of Israel (SAFI) Board member Benji Shulman said: “The BDS, in the minority here, is trying to pull some publicity stunt to make itself relevant, and this has got something to do with this agenda. The vast majority of South Africans are Christians and there will always be a diversity of opinion.

“However, there is a tiny minority that might take a pro-BDS position. The vast majority want to travel to Israel and engage with it.”

Apostle Julius Moloi, the founder and president of the Christian Ministers Council of Southern Africa, which represents 50 Christian organisations and several million Christians, said: “My organisation is not involved with this nonsense. It is politically motivated and a waste of time. There is a tiny fraction of pastors committed to the ANC and the BDS movement, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with Christian beliefs.”

He said he was not offended as everyone has the right to hold a vigil, but what was concerning was the way in which the vigil was being advertised.

“The problem is that the advertisement gives the impression that all Christians support this, when this is simply not true. It is a gross misrepresentation. The advertising should state only some Christian organisations.

“There are millions of Christians who would never support this nonsense. South Africa has 41 million Christians and this small group cannot speak as if they represent all of us. That is false, and they are trying to create the impression that there are a lot of Christians behind them – which is also not true. There are a lot of dirty games being played by the BDS. A Christian who goes out to support this needs his brain examined.”

Mark Hyman, the co-chairman of SAFI, said: “SAFI has a vast supporter base of Evangelical and Charismatic Christians who are friends of Israel and whose belief system is embedded in the Judeo-Christian belief in the forefathers: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

“Our Christian support base engenders and embraces our value system. It is something that we continually strive to enhance in our shared love of the Holy Land, which is so close to all Christians and Jews as it is the centre of all the three monotheistic faiths.

“Those true to their Christian faith would never be associated with such virulent and divisive protest action, which does not serve the Palestinian cause. It merely incites false information and misinformation to a widely uneducated people on the actual situation in the region.”

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