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Sabeel’s founder, the Rev. Naim Ateek, has been accused of anti-Semitism. What is your response to this?

Some Zionist groups and individuals have attacked the Rev. Ateek for comparing Palestinian suffering to the crucifixion of Christ, saying that he calls Israelis “Christ killers” and draws on provocative imagery used during European pogroms against Jews. They also say he is anti-Semitic because he has criticized the government of Israel and the effects of Zionism on Palestinians. 

Ateek has answered these attacks in an article in the Huffington Post, saying that he has scrupulously avoided any charge that Jews were collectively responsible for the death of Christ and he considers Judaism “a living and valid faith worthy of our full respect.” Jewish individuals and groups have come to his defense. The blogger Richard Silverstein was outraged by the attacks against Ateek and wrote that some groups “lie shamelessly” about Ateek’s actions and words. “They are frightened by a non-violent Palestinian who speaks out strongly against Israeli injustices and in favor of Palestinian non-violent resistance,” Silverstein wrote.  “Non-violence in a Palestinian context is an alien concept to the pro-Israel right.” 

The charges against the Rev. Naim Ateek are false and an effort to silence his criticism of Israel. Similar smear campaigns have been directed at Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Sabeel’s international patron), President Jimmy Carter and others who speak the truth about Israeli abuses.