Life in a time of heretics

IN HIS 65,000-word Anti-Jewish treatise written in 1543, German Reformation leader Martin Luther called the Hebrew prophet Jeremiah a heretic: “Jeremiah, you wretched heretic, you seducer and false prophet”. He then claimed that Jewish history was “assailed by much heresy”, and that “Christ the logos swept away the Jewish heresy” and goes on to do so, “as it still does daily before our eyes.”

Luther stigmatised Jewish Prayer as being “blasphemous” and a lie, and vilified Jews in general as being spiritually “blind” and “surely possessed by all devils” all the while suggesting a number of remedial steps, such as “burning down Synegogues”.

Similarly, in his 1229 word essay (short and tame by the standards of the Reformation), entitled “End of ‘error’ may be about to dawn”, Terry Crawford-Browne declaims upon a number of current themes to do with Israel, including the supposed difference between Ashkenazi Jews and Mizrahi Jews, the Holocaust, the Apartheid analogy, the Green Line, Binationalism and more importantly, the so-called heresy of Zionism.

Lest we forget, Crawford-Brown is also the Cape Times correspondent who lied to the Seriti Commission and who tried to implicate the left in the killing of Chris Hani, in the process, revising history. He is also responsible for hosting an anti-Semitic seminar on the problem of Jewish immigration to South Africa  without so much as requesting input from the Jewish community, (not all Jews are Zionists), and has sought to dictate terms in the controversy surrounding the screening of a propaganda film at the Labia.

As a one-time spokesperson for the Anglican Church, Crawford-Browne has often attacked persons such as myself, who like anti-apartheid activist Peter Hain, advocate a binational solution to the problem in the Middle East.

In order to arrive at a binational state, one must first accept that Israel has a right to exist, all else follows from this premise, articulated by Nelson Mandela and recognised by the United Nation’s general assembly.

It was thus not so long ago that Crawford-Browne was attacking the very ideas which he now professes to hold, from a pulpit in which he is able to declaim on the so-called Zionist heresy with views that not only informed the German Reformation and its opposition, but was also the basis for the tragedy of the Holocaust which followed.

The Christian Church has a history of deflecting criticism by attacking minorities. The TRC faith hearings into apartheid atrocities heard that the Afrikaans Reformed Churches were widely identified with Afrikaner nationalism and held to be complicit in apartheid.

The complicity of the Dutch Reformed Church in the policy of apartheid went beyond simple approval and legitimisation. The church actively promoted apartheid, not least because it served the Afrikaner interests with which it identified. The Dutch Reformed Church admitted giving official sanction to apartheid laws, including providing theological justification for apartheid, in what is known as the “apartheid heresy”.

In 1975 the UN issued the infamous resolution 3379 equating Zionism with racism.

After the end of the Cold War, the same UN general assembly issued a resolution reversing the earlier resolution. Thus in 1991 “the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly … to revoke the bitterly contested statement it approved in 1975 that said “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.”

“The official count found 111 nations in favor of repealing the statement and 25 nations, mostly Islamic and hard-line Communists, voting against. Thirteen nations abstained. Seventeen other countries, including Egypt, which recognizes Israel, and Kuwait and China, did not take part in the voting.”

The earlier 1975 resolution 3379 is the basis for several conferences in South Africa, each one arriving at the conclusion that Zionism is Racism and worse, apartheid. The 1975 resolution is the basis for a Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) research paper reiterating its findings. No resolution has ever been issued by the UN for any similar form of ethnic nationalism, for example: Kemalism.

It is trite that whether or not one is a Zionist or a Non-Zionist, Theist or Non-Theist, there will be persons such as Crawford-Browne who seek to place Jews and Israel under the microscope, while forgetting the role played by the Christian Church in the formation of apartheid in our own country.

Speaking as a heretic and as a banned journalist and activist, whose heretical beliefs have been anathemitised by a South African court, not because they are Zionist, but because they do not conform to a general definition of Judaism as provided by an apartheid media company. (Yes, Judaism, like Islam, is a Christian heresy. Its adherents are also heretics), I caution against installing correspondents on the editorial pages as some new form of clergy.

Jews themselves have “defined their various sects as heresies (Greek hairesis). In the first century, this was not a negative term. First-century Jewish historian Josephus refers to the Sadducees, Pharisees and Essenes as the heresies of the Jews (Antiquities of the Jews, 13.171). Luke, writing in the book of Acts, shows that the followers of Christ were viewed as yet another heresy, known at that time as “the sect of the Nazarenes” (Greek Nazaoraios) (Acts 24:5). Thus, in the first century, the term heresy defined the teaching of a particular school. The word had been used this way in the Greek-speaking world since the time of Plato.” *

Crawford-Browne thus in no way discharges the accusation, rightfully made here, that he is essentially pontificating, setting himself up as a modern cleric and legal authority, without the necessary qualifications and without the authority of the broader Church nor the Republic of South Africa, a nation of which he is, no doubt, still a member.

NOTE: *Orthodoxy: Just Another Heresy?