Israel Summit Exclusive, Racist; Palestinians Left Out

Vigil by Protesters at Pastor Jonathan Wiggins’ Resurrection Fellowship Church

Volunteer challengers at the “Israel Summit:  Stand Firm” learned that the conference’s theme is not “unity”, but is, in fact, about exclusive-ism, a form of racism.  Arabs, Muslims, and Gazans, including Christian Gazans, have no place in this tent.  They are simply ignored; their names are rarely spoken.


Our vigil for peace and justice for Palestine was a frigid one, standing in the dark at the west entrance of giant Resurrection Fellowship.  We held signs, illuminated by candles, electric torches, and incoming headlights, as the sellout crown arrived for “Israel Summit: STAND FIRM.”

Pastor Jonathan Wiggins, indeed the gentleman we were told he would be, was exceedingly gracious as we stood in the wet snow in front of his church while his guests arrived.  We were disarmed by his unexpected acts of kindness in what we would normally find more hostile.  Pastor Wiggins personally brought or dispatched to us several comforts:  food, water, heat, and a portable toilet.  He did not want us to be uncomfortable while we were there.  But should we have accepted these gifts of hospitality?  No, not if we were thinking seriously about the terrible plight of the Palestinian Gazans!  We should have told Pastor Wiggins, “No thanks, we cannot accept your generosity, no matter how well intended, while Gazan children are starving and freezing, and are being ignored inside your Israel Summit!”

I admit it, I like hospitality, and I get cold faster of late.  But I woke up the next morning thinking,  “HOW COULD WE HAVE ACCEPTED COMFORTS THAT ISRAEL DEPRIVES THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE OF, A PEOPLE WHOSE HARDSHIPS ARE TOTALLY IGNORED BY ISRAEL SUMMIT SPEAKERS?”  I owe the people of Gaza an apology:   “Sorry, mothers and children of Gaza,  I failed you when I warmed my cold hands at Pastor Wiggins’ heater.”

Wiggins personally carried out to us a case of bottled water.  I am returning it to him untouched because most people of Gaza do not have enough clean water to sustain life; each lives on borrowed time.  This case of water might save one child’s life, for Israel has systematically destroyed most of Gaza’s water wells and pipelines, causing a desperate shortage.  Civil Engineer, Gary Anderson, who has worked in Gaza, and was present at the vigil, provides his own personal testimony of water shortages due to Israel usurping the Palestinians’ water.

Wiggins also brought us a zip-lock bag of candy bars.  But we should have told him, “No thanks, the Gazans have no food.”   I am returning the candy.  If the pastor is sincere in his love of peace and “unity”, he should take up a collection for Gaza and send food through Israel Summit speakers who live there.  Had we, who were outside, been thinking about the children of Gaza, who have little or no protein and may never have experienced the taste of a candy bar, we would have rejected his food offering on the spot.  After checking the church’s website, it is clear that Wiggins’ keynote speakers are all Zionists who seem to support repressing the Palestinians, and that makes Pastor Wiggins an enabler of both the repression and the ensuing deaths, no matter how friendly he seemed to us.  

Pastor Wiggins also brought to us his big backyard space heater; it took three men to drag it onto the public right-of-way where we held our vigil. The heat felt great, but I regret accepting it. The Gaza children do not have heat in their homes, that is, If they still have a home after last years Israel’s Operation Protective Edge which destroyed some 25,000 homes.  Israel disabled Gaza City’s electric grid while killing over 2400, including some 500 children.  If Pastor Jonathan’s little back yard space heater was in Gaza city, with fuel to run it, it would be surrounded by dozens of families, made homeless by Israeli bombs, taking turns warming themselves around it.

The Israelis whom Wiggins invited and paid to speak at his Summit did not resist the destruction of the Gaza electric plant, as best we can tell from reading their websites.  They need to tell the truth about Israel’s demolition of Gaza.  My fingers again feel icy at the thought that I unthinkingly accepted a few calories of heat provided to us, while Palestinian children, whom the Israel Summit will deliberately ignore, are without shelter.  In Gaza at least two infants and one man are reported to have died of exposure in January. (Haaretz)

Palestinians gather around fire as they warm themselves inside their damaged apartment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015. Photo by AP

Pastor Wiggins even provided a portable toilet for us to use.  My first reaction was, how excessively kind of him.  As far as I know no one used his sanitary facilities, nor should we have, for in Gaza there remains no sewage disposal for many, after Israel’s 2014 attack on sewage plants there.  In many places children must walk in streets that carry human excrement.

By bestowing kindness upon us, his challengers, likable Pastor Wiggins dulled our consciences toward the excluded Palestinians.  He has done us a favor by showing us how easily the love of Christ can be misused to desensitize us.  May we remain steadfast as we continue to speak out for a people whom much of the Christian world is willing to forget.-cec

WHTT report on Israel Summit:  “Pastor Wiggins Reveals Christian Zionist Theme At Israel Summit

“Three dead in Gaza due to freezing temperatures, including two infants,” Haaertz, Jan. 10, 2015: