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Protest mild compared with Jesus' vandalism
by Graeme J. Davidson,
7 Feb 2009

Jesus of Nazareth was hardly peaceful. Who was it that vandalised the Jerusalem Temple by overturning the money exchange tables and assaulting people and animals with a whip?

... Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s 22-day military venture into Gaza to end rocket attacks, had plenty of fallout here, especially when demonstrators took to our streets.
Many got upset when protesters’ kids wore red-stained bandages symbolising Gaza’s civilian casualties. They ignored how we regularly use our kids to highlight the suffering of other youngsters such as child victims of accidents, cancer and abuse.
... Porirua priest Father Gerard Burns’ splattering red paint with a drop of his blood over a monument to assassinated former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin caused the greatest fuss. He and fellow supporters of Palestinian rights wanted our government to condemn Israel.
... The Kiwi Friends of Israel called on Father Burns to apologise and Wellington Catholic Archbishop John Dew quickly obliged in a very paternalistic way: “I offer an apology for Father Burns' actions and make this apology to all those who were offended at the desecration of the Rabin monument".
... In a letter to the editor of this paper (19 January), Paul Clarke asked: “Why can’t Father Burns learn that if he wants peace in the world, he would also be best serving his god by saying a mass in public to honour the prince of peace?”
... The prince of peace? Despite the title referring to a future messiah in the Old Testament Book of Isaiah, it wasn’t until 100 years after his crucifixion that writers call Jesus the Prince of Peace. The Roman Emperor Augustus (27 BC- AD 14) was hailed Prince of Peace well before that.
... Jesus of Nazareth was hardly peaceful. Who was it that vandalised the Jerusalem Temple by overturning the money exchange tables and assaulting people and animals with a whip? Is Archbishop Dew going to apologise for this outburst too? And if Jesus’ righteous indignation was justified, why not Father Burns’ far milder protest at Israel’s disproportionate military response that shattered so many civilian lives?
... Anyway, how naïve of the Wellington City Council to approve the divisive public monument to Yitzhak Rabin, sited near its Civic Square in 2000, and then to advertise it as part of a city “Peace Walk”. Rabin led a country with highly contentious security practices. He also shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres, all of whom had been leaders in paramilitary organisations accused of terrorism. The monument displays the logo of the Jewish National Fund (JNF), a Zionist organisation dedicated to obtaining land for Jewish settlement. Palestinians complain that the Oslo Accords, for which Rabin got his peace prize, were used to expand Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, especially on the West Bank.
... When the Mevlana Cafe in Invercargill refused to serve two Israeli women in protest against Israel’s incursion into Gaza, one of them complained to the Human Rights Commission. Race Relations Commissioner Joris De Bres reminded us, "It's unlawful to discriminate in the provision of goods and services on the grounds of either national or ethnic origin or political opinion". That also means a Jewish café owner can’t refuse to serve members of a neo Nazi party because of their politics.
... But we do have Maori parliamentary seats based on race and ethnic origin. I wrote to the Human Rights Commission about this blatant violation of our Human Rights Act, and was told that when the Act conflicted with an existing law, the “only remedy that the Human Rights Review Tribunal or a court can grant is a Declaration of Inconsistency”. Government legislation can defy the Human Rights Act, not café owners.
... It wasn’t Wellington City Council that complained to police over the desecration of the Yitzhak Rabin monument, but David Zwartz, Honorary Consul of Israel, and Father Burns now faces wilful damage charges. Mr Zwartz has the right to lay a complaint and leave the verdict to the court. But it is a heavy-handed approach, which is symbolic of Israel’s harsh and disproportionate reactions in Gaza. What was wrong with Mr Zwartz inviting Father Burns for a spirited discussion over a cup of tea?




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