When it comes to attacking Israel’s legitimacy, the Mennonite Central Committee hits way above its weight class. The MCC bills itself as a relief development and peace agency for adherents of the Anabaptist tradition, and is supported by North American churches and congregations totaling only 150,000 members, but its output of anti-Israel propaganda exceeds the volume of disinformation produced by much larger church groups.
After the horrors of the Shoah [Holocaust], it is understandable that the idea of Israel as a safe haven with a Jewish majority would be so important to many Jews. But must such a haven be tied to a project of maintaining and projecting a Jewish majority by any and all means? Might not a bi-national future in one state be one in which Palestinians and Israelis alike both sit securely under vine and fig tree?
A few vignettes from MCC’s videos demonstrate just how far the organization will go to demonstrate the evils of Jewish sovereignty in Israel.
In the 2003 video “Walking the Path Jesus Walked,” a 23-minute overview of Christian communities in Syria, Egypt and Israel, the story is simple: healthy Christian communities have a long history in the Middle East, but face an uncertain future because of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which inflames hostility toward Christians. The video presents substantial footage of Israeli soldiers pointing guns at Palestinians and of Israeli tanks rumbling down the street past blown out neighborhoods, but offers no scenes whatsoever of Hamas or Fatah members carrying weapons during parades, nor are there any images of the aftermath of Palestinian suicide attacks.
For the first time this year, the President [Hosni Mubarek] declared the Seventh of January, our Christmas, a national holiday for the whole country – Muslims and Christians. And of course it was a very sensitive touch from him and we really felt that it’s our country.
Muslims have murdered, kidnapped, raped, and forcibly converted scores of Copts in recent years, and burned or vandalized Copt homes, businesses, and churches. The government has seized church-owned land, has closed churches, and frequently uses an Ottoman-era law to deny permission to build or repair churches.
A similar omission is evident in the MCC’s 2004 video “The Dividing Wall.” Like its predecessor, this 23-minute video is filled with images of armed Israe lis apparently lording over Palestinian civilians and children who climb over piles of rubble and peer through the security fence. The only hint of Palestinian violence is eight seconds of footage of Israeli first responders inspecting a bus blown up by a suicide bomber and a brief snapshot of an Israeli victim of suicide attacks.
The escalation of violence on both sides of the conflict has made the peace process difficult. Suicide bombers claim revenge for attacks by the Israeli Defense Forces. The IDF, in return, invade Palestinians cities, targeting Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants in hopes of deterring suicide bombers. Few would deny Israel the right to protect itself from terrorism, but many question Israel’s true motive behind building the wall.
This passage is emblematic of the video’s essential flaw. Israel’s stated motive for building the barrier – the need for security – is called into question; the stated motive for Palestinian terror attacks – revenge for IDF attacks – is not examined at all.
Since the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting over the right to live on the land. In 2002, a new era of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began with the start of a separation wall on the West Bank. While the Israeli government claims that the wall is needed for security reasons, Palestinians see it as a continuation of policies to drive them off their land.
In “Children of the Nakba,” released in 2005, the MCC again questions the legitimacy of Jewish sovereignty. The images in this video are the same as the first two – Israeli soldiers menacing Palestinian civilians, who mourn the loss of their homes caused by the war in 1948. Predictably, the film makes no reference to the approximately 800,000 Jewish refugees who fled or were expelled from Iran and the Arab world after Israel’s creation, nor is there any acknowledgement that many of the Arab refugees are deliberately kept in miserable conditions by Arab dictators throughout the Middle East. Again, their suffering is blamed on the existence of Jewish sovereignty in a land of their own.
In a striking scene near the end of the video, pro-Palestinian activists confront a clearly agitated man who shouts at them in Hebrew. The man’s arguments are not translated for the viewers, but the narrator does intone that the message of the human rights activists concerned for Palestinian suffering is “not a message everyone wants to hear.”
If the video’s producers were honest enough to translate what the man was saying into English they would hear him make a very reasonable and rational argument: “Arabs have 22 states!”
It’s a legitimate point, but it’s not one the MCC can afford to acknowledge. The MCC is not interested in promoting Arab well-being, but rather denying the Jews their homeland.