Sunday, July 23, 2006

Seth Gitell: A Bishop's Voice

Seth Gitell writing on the anti-Israeli Episcopel Bishop Shaw of Boston in the New York Sun; HT Media Nation,
Until last week. In a case of what may be extraordinarily bad timing, Bishop Shaw chose Wednesday afternoon as the moment to publicly protest Israel's strike on Gaza in the wake of the Hamas kidnapping of Corporal Gilad Shalit. That was after hostilities with Gaza had begun but before Hezbollah's Katyushah rockets began raining down on Israel's North. Bishop Shaw's defenders say that he was prompted by the plight of Gaza's Al Ahli Anglican Hospital, which lost power during the offensive. The bishop issued a somewhat nuanced statement to explain his actions."We pray for Israeli soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit and for an immediate and peaceful halt to the hostilities raging for the past two weeks in the Gaza Strip," the statement read, in part.

There's no nuance in images. Bishop Shaw's presence at the protest with Israel in harm's way overshadows any diplomatic objective that he and his supporters say was the goal of the protest. Yet while the high-profile anti-Israel actions of those such as Bishop Shaw capture the spotlight, there is a quiet insurgency taking place to combat the efforts of Bishop Shaw and his ilk. A Dominican nun based in Jericho, New York, Sister Ruth Lautt O.P., has formed a group called Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East aimed at retaking the center of the Roman Catholic Church and the moderate Protestant churches. Seeing the wildfire of support of the divestment issue among Presbyterians and the United Church of Christ, Sister Lautt, trained as a litigator, said something had to be done.

"I said, this has gotten way out of hand. There has to be some kind of mainstream Christian voice out there," says Sister Lautt. "We've got to get people to understand this conflict instead of having this knee-jerk blame Israel for everything" attitude.

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