InterVarsity Press' new book promotes two Muslim organizations, one with ties to Palestinian terrorism, one with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood

Tricia Miller, Ph.D. and Dexter Van Zile

Dear Christian Leaders,

A couple of months ago, the Christian Leadership Network (CLN) of  CAMERA’s Partnership of Christians and Jews asked you to contact Christianity Today about  an article that unfairly characterized Israel’s efforts to prevent the  spread of COVID-19 in the West Bank as a “crackdown.” As it turns out,  the United Nations has lauded Israel and the Palestinian Authority for  their joint response to COVID-19.

Your response to our request was gratifying, as dozens of you wrote letters that expressed your concern about this issue. Christianity Today has  yet to weigh in with subsequent articles about COVID-19 in the Holy  Land, but the editors at the magazine now know CLN members will be  paying attention to subsequent stories about the issue.

Sadly, we need to ask for your help again in relation to a problem with  InterVarsity Press (IVP), which is even more compelling than the biased  article at Christianity Today

InterVarsity Press describes itself as “the book publishing division of  InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, a movement of students and  faculty active on campus at hundreds of universities, colleges and  schools of nursing in the United States of America.” Unfortunately, this  self-identified Christian publishing company has just published a book  that promotes two Muslim organizations, one of which has ties to  Palestinian terrorism and another of which has ties to the Muslim  Brotherhood, an Islamist organization that has promoted Islamic  extremism and anti-Israel bias throughout the world including the United  States.

IVP  needs to hear from members of the public that associations with groups  that promote false, defamatory claims about the Jewish state are   intolerable and that future editions of the text need to be corrected.
 
IN DETAIL
 
The book in question is Beyond Hashtag Activism: Comprehensive Justice in a Complicated Age by  Mae Elise Cannon, a well-known progressive author who currently serves  as executive director of Churches for Middle East Peace, an anti-Zionist  activist organization supported mostly by liberal Protestant  (“mainline”) churches in the United States. This book was published on  May 26, 2020.

In  her book, which promotes the ideology of “social justice,” Cannon  promotes the work of a number of organizations and individuals that  espouse various forms of replacement theology, as well as false,  inflammatory, anti-Israel claims.

Here are the details.

Palestinian Christian Liberation Theology
 
One egregious distortion in Cannon’s text is found on page 229, where  she instructs her readers about concerns people have raised about  Palestinian Christian Liberation Theology (PCLT).

To establish her bona fides on this issue, Cannon cites The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus (Harper  San Francisco, 2006) by scholar Amy-Jill Levine. In her book, Levine  expresses concerns about the writings of Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, an  Anglican Priest in Jerusalem who has, on repeated occasions, used  anti-Judaic passages from the New Testament to portray Israel as a  cosmological affront to God’s purposes in the Middle East.

In her discussion regarding Ateek’s writing, Levine states that “he  erases Jesus’s Judaism” by declaring that Jesus effected a “paradigm  shift” by promoting  (in Ateek’s words) “a commitment to the poor, a  commitment to the ministry of healing, a commitment to justice and  liberation of the oppressed, a commitment to jubilee which involves  economic justice for all.”

“In making this claim,” Levine writes, Ateek, “erases Jesus’s Judaism,”  adding that “If concern for the poor originates with Jesus, then the  church might […] jettison the entire ‘Old Testament.’”

In the same text, Levine writes, “Any writing that separates Jesus and  his first followers from Jewish identity, associates these  proto-Christians with the Palestinian population, and reserves the label  ‘Jew’ for those who crucified Jesus and persecuted the church is not  only historically untenable but theologically abhorrent.”

Levine’s concerns do not prevent Cannon from promoting Ateek’s work,  however. Cannon tells her readers that it is “important to understand  his perspective as a leading Palestinian Christian voice calling for  liberation.”

She then quotes a passage from Ateek’s 2017 book A Palestinian Christian Theology of Liberation: The Bible, Justice, and the Palestinian Israeli (Orbis) as follows: “Jesus Christ was a Palestinian [Jew], as we are. He lived in the same land we live in.”

Note the brackets around the word “Jew.” That indicates it’s an  insertion on Cannon’s part, which an investigation of Ateek’s text  reveals it to be. Ateek actually wrote: “Jesus Christ was a Palestinian  as we are.”

By taking the liberty of inserting the word “Jew” into the quote, Cannon  attempted to obscure Ateek’s effort to strip Jesus of his Jewishness, which is one of Amy-Jill Levine’s primary complaints about Ateek’s writings.
 
This is a profoundly deceptive act on Cannon’s part. First, she cites  Amy-Jill Levine’s book which documents how PCLT promotes antisemitism by  stripping Jesus of his Jewishness. Second, Cannon includes a quote from  Naim Ateek that does exactly that — strip Jesus of his Jewishness. And  then, she alters the quote in a manner that obscures this fact from the  reader.

Ateek’s attempt to strip Jesus of his Jewishness (which Cannon tries to  obscure) is part of a larger strategy of detaching the Jewish people  from the land of Israel. It is a form of supercessionism, which portrays  Christians as having replaced the Jews as the people of God. The notion  that the Jews have been replaced or rejected is a trope regularly  invoked by theological antisemites, which helps explain why Cannon  altered Ateek’s writing.

The  upshot is that by inserting the word “Jew” into Ateek’s text, Cannon has  fundamentally changed the meaning of what he actually wrote. With her  change, she is making it look like Ateek called himself a Jew, which he  is not.

This  raises a question. Did the folks at InterVarsity Press subject Cannon’s  book to any review, scrutiny, or editing? Did they not see what Cannon  was doing?

Al-Haq
 
Cannon promotes the work of Al-Haq, a Palestinian lawfare organization  headquartered in Ramallah. Citing Al-Haq’s website, Cannon describes  Al-Haq’s work as including “the documentation of human rights abuses,  research, and studies on ‘interventions on breaches of international  human rights and humanitarian law’ in East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and  Gaza.”

What Cannon doesn’t convey is that Al-Haq, like a lot of other  Palestinian “civil society” organizations, deploys legal challenges not  to achieve rights for Palestinians, but to hinder the rights of Israeli  Jews to exercise self-determination, denying them the right to life  through lawless acts of terror. The use of democratic institutions to  undermine democracies has been a well-worn strategy of anti-Zionist (and  anti-American) groups for a long time.

Al-Haq’s leader, Shawan Jabarin, was described by  the Israeli Supreme Court in 2007 as “a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” whose  time was divided between leading “a human rights organization” and “as  an operative in an organization [PFLP] which has no qualms regarding  murder and attempted murder.”

In 2008, the Israeli Supreme Court reaffirmed its assessment of Jabarin,  declaring that he was “among the senior activists of the Popular Front  terrorist organization.”

Al-Haq’s ties to terrorist organizations were so serious and demonstrable that American  Express, Mastercard, and Visa stopped allowing their credit cards to be used to donate money to it.

In 2017, Al-Haq’s leader, Jabarin, defended the Palestinian Authority’s  “pay-to-slay” program, which rewards Palestinian terrorists who murder  Israeli civilians with regular salaries depending on the seriousness of  the crimes committed (the more serious the crime, the more people killed  or injured, the longer the sentence – the higher the payments).  If  this pay-to-slay program were interrupted, Jabarin warned, “we are  heading for a real crisis in Palestinian society and in due course  toward an explosion.”

In other words, Jabarin threatened further violence to protect financial  payments (underwritten by Western democracies) to terrorists.

Al-Haq  is not the type of organization that should be promoted in a book  published by IVP, the book publishing division of InterVarsity Christian  Fellowship/USA. 
 
IVP needs to be challenged for enabling Cannon to promote the work of Al-Haq to her readers.

Islamic Relief USA
 
Al-Haq is not the only organization promoted in Cannon’s book. She also  encourages readers to “explore the work” of Islamic Relief USA, which  she describes as “one of the major development agencies” responding to  the “realities” of interracial and interethnic violence “in the Arab  world.”

What Cannon does not tell her readers is that Islamic Relief USA’s  parent organization, which is headquartered in London, has been  designated as a terror-financing organization by the United Arab  Emirates and Israel. Moreover, international banks including UBS and  HSBC closed down Islamic Relief’s accounts and stopped processing donations to the organization. 

According to  the Middle East Forum (MEF), “Islamic Relief funds organizations  closely linked to the terrorist organization, Hamas.” One key partner  for Islamic Relief branches in Gaza is the Gaza Zakat Committee, also  known as the Islamic Zakat Society (IZS). IZS works closely with the  Hamas government.

Islamic Relief also maintains financial links with several  terrorism-linked groups in the Middle East outside of Gaza, including  the Charitable Society for Social Welfare, which was founded by Al-Qaeda  terrorist and “Bin Laden loyalist” Abdul Majeed Al-Zindani. The  organization has been investigated in England for hosting speakers who have engaged in hate speech.

Islamic Relief USA has also promoted hate speech in the U.S. According  to MEF, “In 2009, IR-USA ran an event with Abdullah Hakim Quick, an  extremist preacher who has claimed that AIDS is caused by the ‘filthy  practices’ of homosexuals and that the Islamic position on homosexuality  is ‘death.’ Quick has also spoken of the ‘filth of the Yahud [Jews].’”

To make matters worse, Khaled Lamada, the former chairman of Islamic Relief USA’s board of directors, has been named in  a prominent Egyptian newspaper as an operative of the Muslim  Brotherhood. Lamada, who is no longer chairman of the IR-USA’s board of  directors but still a member, has, according to MEF, posted messages in  Arabic “praising the ‘jihad' of the 'Mujahidin of Egypt’ for ‘causing  the Jews many defeats.’ He has republished claims on Facebook that  praise Hamas for inflicting a ‘huge defeat’ against the ‘Zionist  entity.’”

As you can tell from the MEF report about Islamic Relief, this is just a small sample of the problems associated with Islamic Relief USA and its parent organization.

What  is IVP doing publishing a book that encourages readers to “explore” the  work of Islamic Relief USA without informing them of the organization’s  ties to extremism and terror-financing?

Just  because Mae Cannon cannot or will not provide her readers with this  essential information does not mean IVP should publish a book that omits  it.

With its failure to vet Mae Cannon’s book, InterVarsity Press is abetting the spread of falsehood and prejudice.
 
YOUR VOICE MATTERS - WHAT YOU CAN DO!

When you write and tweet, please make the following points:

  • IVP  was remiss in allowing Mae Cannon to manipulate the writings of Rev.  Dr. Naim Ateek to obscure his replacement theology, in which he strips  Jesus of his Jewishness and separates the Jewish people from the land of  Israel.

  • Mae  Cannon promoted anti-Israel propaganda groups Al-Haq and Islamic Relief  USA to her readers. At the very least readers are entitled to more  information about these organizations. Al Haq is closely associated with  the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Islamic  Relief USA has ties to Islamist organizations.

Please forward this email to your Christian friends and ask them to make their voices heard.

Encourage your friends to sign up for the Christian Leadership Network  (CLN) newsletter from CAMERA’s Partnership of Christians and Jews by  contacting Tricia at tricia@camera.org.
 
Thank you very much for your help in this urgent matter!

For the sake of Israel,
Tricia Miller and Dexter Van Zile



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