13 September 2016

Are the Charges Justified? (Part 1)

11 Elul 5776

In reference to the Har Hebron part of my blog post entitled Say What!?!, David Mark commented:
Wow. Thank you for posting about me without even checking the facts. What you did here is basic Motzei Shem Ra and since you did not ask me for clarification it is a bad thing to accuse another Jew of this before Elul. Perhaps you should email me and ask who he is and what he does. First of all he has left the folds of Christianity. House of Jacob has no connection the same name in America. Putting the name in Google does not constitute real research. Africa Israel Initiative unfortunately has an overt Christian underpinning and Sam (Shmuel) finding himself in an awkward position for leaving Christianity is trying to find a way to teach those in the organization the truth. So once again I implore to either change the post, take it down, or apologize a poorly researched blog post. Either way you are now over a serious averot just before Yom Hadin.
First of all, let me just say that I do not go looking for these things. People send them to me and ask for my input. If I find it is part of a negative trend, I will address it in a blogpost or a series of blogposts. If it concerns something that has already been published in the public sphere, then it needs to be addressed publicly and not privately where people can then say - this is all confidential and cannot be shared publicly.

Second, I will say that one cannot "research" what is not publicly available. In that case, one must rely on contacting the people involved and questioning them. In the aforementioned blog post, I gave evidence of my good faith attempt to contact the source of the story featured on the Har Hebron Facebook page and promised to inform the readers of the outcome.

Because of the amount of information that needs to be given over, this will run to more than one blog post. Today, it will suffice to provide the response to my initial queries. Tomorrow, iy"H, I will reply point by point.

To remind you, the text of the Facebook post says the following:

Shmuel "Sam" Gordan [should be spelled Gordon] the head of the House of Jacob and VP of the Africa Israel Initiative signs a partnership agreement with Yochai Damri head of Har Hebron and David Mark the founder of Israel Africa Hub and coordinator for Africa outreach for Har Hebron for the purpose of building a center for Israel Africa relations in Har Hebron.
Here are some of the responses I received to my questions:

TD: What is this "House of Jacob" that he [Gordon] heads in Africa?

HH: House of Jacob is this former Pastor's way of trying to teach former Christians the truth. He unfortunately has lost most of his congregation over his speaking of the Jews being right. He should be supported... not admonished.

DM: I brought him to big enough Rabbis who grilled him. He is a former pastor.

DM: There are so many more groups and activists for you to focus on and you are picking the one or two people that actually are not so involved with the issues you are working on.

DM: The agreement has nothing to do with the Christian organization [Africa-Israel Initiative]. It is with his Shabbat fellowships. That is trying to pry African Christians out of their avodah zarah.


TD: Who does this "agreement" obligate and to what?

HH: It is not legal. It is an expression of friendship. Please take the time to research carefully when you wrote blogposts.

TD: Why do you think I am asking you? And you still have much to answer for, so do not turn it around and attack the messenger. Perhaps if you had done the minimal research that I have done, you should have had second thoughts about such an undertaking. Do you see value in making even a sham of an agreement with those who boldly say they intend to be the center of Xianity for the world and export Xian values from Africa? What do you feel the Jews of Har Hebron have to gain from such an "agreement"?

HH: The agreement has nothing to do with the Christian organization. It is with his Shabbat fellowships. That is trying to pry African Christians out of their avodah zarah.

TD: Wait a minute. Are you saying that this "agreement" is not WITH this Africa-Israel Initiative? But, only with this one man and whatever other people he says he represents? And he is TODAY the "VP" or "a" VP for "Africa-Israel Initiative"?

TD: Can you get me a copy of the text of that "agreement" and tell me who precisely it addresses?

TD:  Wrt that meeting with the rabbis, what language was used? Were interpreters present?


TD: If you would like to provide further information to set the record straight, I am happy to accommodate with space on my blog. There are a lot of questions, as you can well imagine. ... I'd really be interested in your side of it.

DM: ...People like Shmuel should be celebrated and encouraged. And those of us who work with people like him should be promoted.

From here on, it went to email so that certain sensitive information would remain "confidential".

(Part 2)