Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mennonite "Peace" group hypocrisy on Iran

A letter from Dexter Van Zile. He has asked us to blog about it - everyone, so we have. It is truly pitiful that Mennonites are carrying on a shameful relation with the worst Ayatollahs in Iran while they are murdering their own people.
Hello Everyone:
As you know, the Mennonite Central Committee has been one of the more vociferous and unfair critics of Israel.
This pacifist group has allowed its prophetic voice to be used as a weapon of war against Israel.
Its activists have also worked to legitimize Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the eyes of the American people.
When I've spoken with the people from the MCC about their dialogue with Ahmadinejad, they respond by saying that it is a good thing to keep the lines of communications open even with people we regard as "enemies." They also state that they have expressed their concern to Ahmadinejad about his comments regarding Israel.
Now that the Iranian regime has revealed itself to be quite willing to use violence to suppress its opposition, the MCC, whose activists have met with Ahmadinejad, have fallen silent.
They are not using the lines of communication that they said were so necessary to maintain.
On June 15, I wrote a post on CAMERA's website about this silence.
I have recently updated this post with some new information that frankly caused my jaw to drop. In short, the MCC has engaged in dialogue with with scholars from the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute (IKERI) located on Qom, Iran. This institute is directed by Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, described by The Star (Toronto) as "spiritual adviser to Iran's hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."
One dissident described Mesbah-Yazdi as "the most dangerous Mullah in Iran." The Toronto Star reported that Mesbah-Yazdi is "is a strong advocate of the death penalty, public flogging and the use of suicide bombers against "enemies of Islam."
It's obvious enough to state that if Israel were behaving the way the regime in Iran is behaving, the MCC would not hesitate to issue a ringing condemnation.
I don't know how any of you want to use this information, but please, read the post  [article is below ]. If you've got a blog, please blog on itFeel free to quote my message in its entirety.  [That's what we did!] 
Dexter Van Zile
Christian Media Analyst
PO Box 35040
Boston, MA  02135-0001
617-789-3672 Voice
UPDATED: Mennonite Central Committee Silent on Iran

When it comes to rehabilitating his image in the United States, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can count on the Mennonite Central Committee for assistance.

The organization has sponsored two dinners and an interfaith pilgrimage to Tehran during which Christian leaders have met with the Iranian President and offered kind words about the man afterwards.

Now that events demonstrate that Ahmadinejad is the public face of a brutal regime willing to suppress the people it governs, the organization has fallen silent.
After more than two days of protests and violence in Iran, the MCC has not published any statement about the regime on its website, nor does it have any plans to.
On the morning of June 15, 2009, CAMERA sent an email to Ed Nyce, the MCC's Media and Education Coordinator asking whether or not the organization was going to issue any statement about Iran.
Nyce's response, which came on the afternoon of June 15, was succinct and direct:

"We have no plans to issue a statement."

When asked in subsequent communications (email and a voice message) why the MCC had nothing to say, Nyce reiterated in an email that the MCC has "no plans to issue a statement."

The MCC's silence about the events in Iran is remarkable given its highly visible campaign to legitimize Ahmadinejad in the U.S. This campaign began in February 2007 when the MCC organized a meeting of Christian leaders with the Iranian President in Teheran. The delegation held a press conference in Washington, D.C. upon its return to the U.S. Christian leaders reportedly challenged Ahmadinejad about his anti-Semitic statements, but their complaints had little apparent effect. Four days after the delegation's meeting Ahmadinejad appeared in Sudan, where according to Islamic Republic News Agency (Iran's official news service), he said "Zionists are the true manifestation of Satan."

In September 2007, the MCC organized an ecumenical dinner attended by Ahmadinejad and numerous Christian leaders in New York City.

The leaders met with the Iranian president after he addressed the United Nations on September 26, 2007. According to The New York Times, Albert Lobe, executive director of the Mennonite Central committee told Ahmadinejad "We meant to extend to you the hospitality which a head of state deserves."

Lobe's obsequiousness was apparently a response to the treatment Ahmadinejad received at Columbia University on Sept. 24, when the school's president Lee Bollinger called him "a petty and cruel dictator."

The MCC organized a similar dinner with Ahmadinejad in September 2008. After this meeting, MCC officials reassured the American people that the Iranian President had no desire to destroy Israel militarily, but merely supported a "one-state solution" to the conflict in which "Israelis and Palestinians elect a single government to represent both peoples."
When it comes to portraying Ahmadinejad in a sympathetic light, or condemning Israeli policies, such as the construction of the security barrier, the Mennonite Central Committee has been quite vocal. But when it comes time to assess the behavior of the Iranian regime in light of the Christian gospel (which it uses so often to judge Israel), the group falls silent.
UPDATE - June 24, 2009

In addition to sponsoring the two dinners and interfaith pilgrimage mentioned above, the Mennonite Central Committee has had multiple face-to-face contacts with scholars from the Imam Khomeini Education and Research Institute (IKERI) located on Qom, Iran. This institute is directed by Ayatollah Mesbah-Yazdi, described by The Star (Toronto) as "spiritual adviser to Iran's hard-line president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad."


According to a report in the The Star, a May 2007 meeting between scholars from the institute and Mennonite scholars at the University of Waterloo sponsored by the MCC provoked a protest from Iranians in Canada. The Star reported:

"We're not against dialogue but the Mennonites are naïve if they think they can open one with these people," said Haideh Moghissi, a York University sociologists who with 17 others signed a protest letter sent to the university.
She says Mesbah-Yazdi and his followers are "at the forefront of oppression in Iran," responsible for silencing all intellectuals who disagree with the regime.
"It hurts to know that while people are losing their lives over there, some people are opening the door to 'dialogue' over here. Why doesn't the institute open it back there?"


The Star also reports that Mesbah-Yazdi "is a strong advocate of the death penalty, public flogging and the use of suicide bombers against "enemies of Islam."

"He is the most dangerous mullah in Iran," says Saeed Rahnema, director of York University School of Public Policy and Administration, who spearheaded the protest.


Despite complaints from Iranian dissidents about the meeting in 2007, the MCC sponsored another dialogue with scholars from IKERI in Qom on May 24-27, 2009.


According to an article about the most recent meeting published on the website of Conrad Grebel University College (which sent scholars to the dialogue), the participants witnessed "active campaigning on behalf of presidential candidates."


The article also states that at the conference's end, "the Mennonite delegation expressed its gratitude to IKERI for unsurpassed hospitality, delicious meals, comfortable accommodations, and excellent conference meeting space."


IKERI apparently treated its Mennonite guests with more respect and deference than the Iranian government has shown to its own citizens. According to CNN, witnesses report that government security forces are beating people like "animals."

No comments: