The South African Friends of Israel (SAFI) notes today’s press conference by the South African Council of Churches (SACC) regarding a recent visit to Israel headed by Rev Chikane of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and Rev Moss Nthla of The Evangelical Alliance of South Africa (TESA).
This was no “fact-finding mission” as claimed by the delegation, but simply an “Israel-bashing mission” with a predetermined agenda and conclusion. The families of victims of the 19 innocent civilians murdered in terror attacks in Israel this year were not visited. The communities of Sderot who have endured a constant barrage of rockets originating in Gaza were not engaged with. In fact, no constructive meetings promoting peace and dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians happened at all.
It is evident that this tour had no interest in peace, nor in finding a constructive solution to the decades-long conflict. Chikane has had a long-running campaign of hate and delegitimisation against the Jewish State. He promotes an agenda that demonstrates little desire for achieving peace in the region, but rather of perpetuating hate against Israel and the Jewish People. Chikane and Nthla have been called out by South African Christians as not representing their beliefs and for their extremist rhetoric that labels Israeli Jews as “demonic“.
Former TESA member, Pastor Barry Isaacs, said last year: “I am well aware that Nthla certainly does not speak for a large number of Evangelical Alliance pastors who have told me they are aghast at his damaging and wholly biassed rhetoric. They are appalled that one in so high an office, who praises those who have a “constant obsession with the consolidation of love, justice and peace” could use the platform given to him (following in the footsteps of Chikane) to demonise the Jewish people of Israel and the Christians that support them. As a Christian theologian, I am disgusted that both Nthla and Chikane would seek to refer to us as “demons” and then claim that they are merely using “language first used by Jesus”. Does this consolidate love, justice and peace? No. Their usage of the word ‘demon’ has been lifted entirely out of context. If Nthla and Chikane truly believe that Israelis and the Christians who love and support them are possessed by evil spirits simply because of their love for Israel and her people, then we would appear to be reading different gospels.”
SAFI calls on the South African Council of Churches to take a stand on engagement and dialogue and not to use inflammatory language that does not contribute toward peace, but rather drives hate.
SAFI has recently returned from Israel where our delegation witnessed first-hand the conditions on the ground. SAFI members are happy to engage with the media about their experiences.