The decision by New Zealand to co-sponsor a United Nations' resolution condemning Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories sparked heated debate in Hawke's Bay Today's Letters to the Editor section.

UN Security Council Resolution 2334 demanded that "Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem".

New Zealand co-sponsored the resolution, with Senegal and Malaysia, which said the settlements violated international law and undermined a two-state solution in Israel's conflict with Palestine.

New Zealand's action led to a protest outside Parliament at the end of last year by Pastor Nigel Woodley and members of his congregation from Flaxmere Christian Fellowship.


Below is a selection of letters, both pro and anti, that have run in the print edition of Hawke's Bay Today over the past few weeks.

'Day of shame'

This is the response of decent-minded Christians to the anti-Israel resolution pushed through by New Zealand at the United Nations Security Council.

The Flaxmere Christian Fellowship in Hastings and its many supporters throughout New Zealand completely condemn the anti-Israel resolution passed at the United Nations outlawing Israeli settlements.

We are disgusted at the leading role New Zealand played at the UN. This is a day of shame for New Zealand.

This resolution denies the rights of the Jewish people to build and live on the Holy Land of Israel, land that has been promised to them in an everlasting resolution by a much greater authority than the New Zealand Government or the United Nations - by the God of Nations himself.

We are disgusted, saddened and furious at the misguided leadership of the Hon Murray McCully and the New Zealand Foreign Affairs Ministry, and especially at Christmas.

At a time when we should be celebrating the birth of the Jewish Saviour we have decided instead to back an anti-Semitic, anti-Israel resolution at the United Nations.

We condemn the UN resolution completely.

Pastor Nigel Woodley
Flaxmere Christian Fellowship

Kiwis should be proud

Kiwis should be proud of our Government's co-sponsorship of resolution 2334 recently adopted by the UN Security Council demanding that Israel stop illegally confiscating Palestinian homes and building settlements in the occupied territories.

The present Israeli Government might favour a one-state solution, which fosters a greater pro-Jewish, land-grabbing state and discrimination against Palestinians, but for long-term peace in the region New Zealand's advocacy of the two-state solution of a separate Israel and separate Palestine is to be commended.

The withdrawal for "consultation" of the Israeli ambassador because the Israeli leadership is offended at our UN stance should be taken as a sign of our success in trying to foster a just peace.

Graeme J Davidson
Havelock North

'One-sided'Re: Murray McCully - NZ welcomes UN resolution on Middle East Peace Process.

Dear Murray,

Your resolution is completely one-sided. You were silent on the Unesco nonsense and in the past you have voted against Israel at the World Health Forum, where you supported a Syrian resolution condemning Israel's treatment of her Druse citizens. What bloody nonsense is that?

You said on radio today you hoped the vote would not affect relations with the incoming Trump Government. Well you should have thought about that before you voted.
You have hung your hat on Obama's hook.

Your choice.

You are a bit different to what you were in February 2009 (Feb 17) when you told me we would not be going to Durban 2. What's happened?

Call me, we need to talk

John McCormick

In response to Pastor Nigel Woodley's letter (December 27) regarding UN Resolution 2334 "pushed through" by New Zealand, I would like to point out that the construction of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states: "(An) occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." Religious belief, in this context, has very little to do with it.

The government of Israel talks glibly of creating "facts on the ground" in relation to their settlement programme. With the recent UN resolution, this strategy is now viewed as illegal by, amongst others, the governments of the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and even, to all intents and purposes, by the present government of the United States.

The weight of world opinion is therefore overwhelmingly ranged against what has become a brutal process of eviction and displacement of the Palestinian inhabitants. This, then, is itself a "fact on the ground" whose implications Israel and its predictable local apologists perhaps need to take time to consider.

In contrast to Pastor Woodley, I can only applaud the action of the NZ Government in promoting UN Resolution 2334 at the UN Security Council.

A D Johnson


Having signed the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, this hypocritical Government has now sponsored a UN resolution seeking to take away the rights of the indigenous people of Palestine - the Jews.

I first became ashamed of being a New Zealander when I attended a rugby test match at Athletic Park in the late 1970s, and witnessed the crowd (or most of them) booing the Wallaby goal kicker.

I became more ashamed of being a New Zealander soon after that when our unrepresentative House of Representatives enacted a Nazi-like law providing for the slaughter of in utero children.

Now, I'm ashamed once more.

It would seem that Mr Key saw the writing on the wall. On the one hand, he saw the Opportunities Party doing to him what the New Zealand Party did to Muldoon.
On the other hand, being well aware of this UN hypocrisy about to happen with his blessing, he saw that the backlash from decent NZers would sweep him out of power, as we've seen elsewhere around the world recently.

Goodbye, National Government. Bill English has been delivered a ticking bomb. (Abridged)

Leo Leitch

National pride

When I first arrived here, I was warned not to criticise situations unless I might earn the title of "whingeing Pom".

Your correspondent in yesterday's paper does more than that.

He states he is ashamed to be a New Zealander. Not once, but three times.Then goes on to assert that decent New Zealanders will sweep National out of power next year.

Well Mr Leitch. Two things I would like to add.

Decent New Zealanders are not ashamed of their country.

They are, like me, proud to be one.

Secondly when can we expect you to move to Israel?

You're clearly not happy here.

Gerald Brown

Israel's battle

As it has always been, as part of the "Divine plan", and documented so clearly in the Bible, Israel has had to stand up for itself. Look at what happened to Goliath.

All the so-called great kingdoms that dominated Israel, their armies gloating over their occupation for hundreds of years have now disappeared from history. Only the vestiges of their civilisations remain.

For the present day I have heard it said "that if the Arab countries put down their weapons, there would be no more violence; but if Israel put down their weapons, there would be no Israel!"

And hence, Christmas was born. A babe born to be a king was to turn the world upside down with the thinking of love, goodwill and tolerance for one another.

After thousands of years, Israel became a country-state in 1948. Since then there has been no let-up of hatred towards a tiny nation in a rebuilding phase which is trying to hold on to what is rightfully theirs.

According to the promises in Genesis, a covenant declared the rightful boundaries for Israel including the so-called "occupied territories".

The Arab nations are trying all they can to delegitimise the Jewish rights to their land.
Now the UN, like the League of Nations, has failed along with many nations, including NZ to adopt the resolution that Israel stop building settlements in the occupied territories which is rightfully theirs.

I do not agree with Graeme Davidson's view of a two-state solution. Sure, in an Arab country that neighbours Israel, I'm all for that!

Just hope when Donald Trump takes over there will be greater support for Israel's existence and the power of veto be utilised.

Bruce Tregonning

Turn the cheek

As a fellow Christian, I would suggest that Pastor Woodley "get real" and become more widely informed than merely by propaganda, such as emanates regularly from fortress-mentality Israel's Embassy in Wellington.

Following my reading of the Bible, the establishment of a Palestinian State, freed and supported by Israel, would be a significant witness to Hammas and the surrounding Arab nations.

A welcome "turning of the cheek", and very scriptural (Lam. 3:30 and Matt. 5:38,39).

Follow Jesus, please.

Reverend David Day

Scriptures as literal truth flawed

By Pastor Woodley's shame, disgust, sadness and fury at New Zealand's co-sponsoring of the UN condemnation of Israel's illegal settlements (HBT 27 Dec) helps me realise why so many want to declare war on fundamentalism.

Like that other declared war on another abstract noun, however, such reactions cause collateral damage. And as borderless and potentially endless wars, intergenerational damage also.

Bible Christians do much good and Woodley is doubtless sincere. But using divine scriptures as literal truth is a leading cause of terrorism. He and his "many supporters" need to inform themselves of the reasons their shame is not shared by the displaced. Or by those Christians whose identity since the 1960s has incorporated social justice principles.

You don't have to be a drone-fly to predict PM Netanyahu's closed logic justifications to ambassadors called in. Or Pastor Woodley's sermons on divine rights.

But Israel's argument that as the region's only democracy its security should be at the expense of the freedom of millions no longer holds. Even if leaders refuse to surrender violent solutions.

What is most disturbing about this religious righteousness, however, is not just its basis and extent but also its confusion about Christianity's developed role.

This year fundamentalists in Mogadishu banned the cooking of three-pointed samosas as they are symbolic of a rival religious idea. Last century philosopher Jacques Maritain praised that same idea - on the basis it recognised a trinity of complete knowledge: reason, revelation and inspiration.

Good on us for not turning a blind eye - or the other cheek. And for being inspired to solutions to break those circular logics that prevent negotiated justice.

Steve Liddle

Israel island of stability in sea of Arab unrest

For decades the public has been fed misinformation about Israel and the Palestinians. Israel is not illegally occupying Palestinian territory.

In 1947, the Arabs refused the offer of a separate state when the UN partitioned Palestine.

The Jews accepted it and declared their independence, whereupon they were invaded by five neighbouring Arab states.

Miraculously, the Israelis won that war, and subsequent wars by Arabs seeking to annihilate them, but Judea and Samaria were captured by Jordan.

In the 1967 Six-Day War, the Israelis won back the old city of Jerusalem including their holiest site, the Temple Mount, and took control of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
History affirms that Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for more than 3000 years and Israel the Jewish homeland.

Named Palestine by the Romans, Israel's land included both sides of the River Jordan. The 1922 Mandate for Palestine established the Jewish right to settle in Western Palestine, while 78 per cent of Palestine (east of the river) was handed over to the Arabs.

In 1981, Jordan's King Hussein stated, "The truth is that Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan."

Today, although the Israelis have agreed to a "two-state solution", that's not the goal of the Palestinians. They want the whole area, both sides of the Jordan, completely free of Jews. Instead of peace, they incite terrorists to kill innocent Israelis, teaching schoolchildren hatred of their Jewish neighbours.

In contrast, Israel is a Jewish state where all citizens of whatever religion, enjoy equal rights.

Israelis want to live in peace with their neighbours, but the Palestinians refuse to come to the negotiating table. New Zealand should realise that innovative Israel is an island of stability in a sea of Arab unrest; worthy of our support and encouragement, not condemnation.

Margaret Burgess

Differing views

In response to Nigel Woodley's letter published December 27, I wish to inform your readers that his views are not held by all Christians, nor by all Pentecostal Christians.

The different views regarding the place of national Israel in [the] greater scheme of things is the result of differing theological and interpretive frameworks.

While a discussion around these frameworks may be of interest to some readers of this paper, the Letters to the Editor section is probably not the most appropriate place to have this discussion.

United Nations' resolution condemning Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.

UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which Woodley described as a knife in an ally's back, was adopted on Christmas Eve, demanding that "Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem".

New Zealand co-sponsored the resolution, with Senegal and Malaysia, which said the settlements violated international law and undermined a two-state solution in Israel's conflict with Palestine.

Stephen Gerbault

NZ lap dog in Israel vote

I was one of 200 people present in Wellington to protest the latest UN resolution against Israel.

UNSC Resolution 2334 is the culmination of a dizzyingly fruitful year for anti-Semites. Last November, committees of the UN General Assembly in a single day adopted 10 resolutions against Israel, the only democratic nation in the Middle East.

How many resolutions have been approved against Syria? One. How many against the rogue state of North Korea? One.

How many against Russia when it annexed Crimea? One.

This is Obama giving the finger to Netanyahu as he departs the White House and NZ has become the lap dog of this current administration for this purpose.

The solution to this problem will be found not in resolution, but negotiation; in which, incidentally, the Palestinians have repeatedly refused to participate.

There are still a few people alive today that will remember the anti-semitic atmosphere that was created in Germany prior to the Second World War, leading to the genocide of over five million Jews. Only this time it seems to be global. Christians in those days remained silent because of division and false theology.

When they finally managed to say something it was too late and most of the "enemies" of the Third Reich were liquidated.

The lies being spoken today even if repeated many times are just that; LIES! If we passively stand by and do nothing history will be repeated. The truth is that NZ just poked in the eye the God of Nations that we sing about in our national anthem.

This God of Nations calls Himself the God of Israel. The Jews' entitlement to their heartland (the so-called West Bank) goes back a long way further than a few hundred years.

Roger Curtis

Israeli land theft

Pastor Nigel Woodley of Flaxmere Christian Fellowship should hang his head in shame.
The Eighth Commandment says "Thou Shalt not Steal".

So why is Pastor Woodley vehemently supporting an Israeli regime that encourages the illegal stealing of Palestinian-owned homes and property on the West Bank for the benefit of thousands of Jewish settlers?

It's little wonder that the theft of their property has made Palestinians wary of "negotiations" with the bullies who occupy their land.

The two state solution supported by New Zealand and most mainstream Churches is the only way forward.

Graeme J Davidson
Havelock North

Israel's actions

As chairman of the mostly secular Hawke Bay Friends of Israel Association let me defend my friend, Pastor Nigel Woodley.

Stephen Gerbault says this debate should not be held in a letters column. Well, Steven this is the very place for such a debate, your understanding of the role of the media is sadly lacking in depth.

Graeme J Davidson and you, Stephen, I hope, are not supporters of the Replacement Theology taught at St John's Theology School to Anglicans, Methodists and others. It's also taught at Laidlaw Bible College to Pentecostal leaders and others. Both schools are in Auckland.

Prime Minister Netanyahu does stand for a two-state solution. Show me where he has said he does not. Israel's actions speak louder than words.

When Prime Minister Sharon withdrew from the Gaza strip in 2005 he also withdrew from the city of Jenin and from four settlements outside the city in the north east of the west bank. That's right. Israel has withdrawn from a part of the West Bank. Had Sharon lived we might not be having this debate.

The Bible is not a book of myths or theory. It is a book of faith, proficiency and is a history book. Israel's critics dismiss out of hand that it is a history book.

Let me quote from the old Testament. Amos 9:14 and 15 from the New International Version: "... and I will bring my people back from exile. They will rebuild the ruined cites and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them."

The legal aspects of UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution 2334 make for an interesting situation. If it overrides UNSC resolution 242 November 1967 and UNGA resolution 181 of November 1947, (The partition resolution) then UN Charter Article 80 becomes the relevant document which takes us back to the League of Nations.

By the time the San Remo conference came to be in 1922, Britain had already divided most of its territory at the Jordan River, 78 per cent to what we now call the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, The Arab state of Palestine.

The League of Nations mandate document for Palestine gave all the land west of the Jordan to Britain for a Jewish state. In the document there is not one word that talks of the area west of the river being divided again.

John McCormick

History of Israel

Much has been written about the United Nations vote on Israel. Some of it from people bad-mouthing the Foreign Minister and Government over it.

At the end of World War 2 the Allies were trying to sort out land for the Jewish people in as fair a way as possible. I was 14 in the UK at the time and read about it every day in the newspapers.

To help your readers to see the other side of the coin being presented by Pastor Woodley, Margaret Burgess and Leo Leitch I suggest you go on line and search the following, Haganah, Irgun, Stern Gang and Deir Yassin massacre.

I have no doubt someone will label it propaganda and lies - I am sorry but it happened.

Maybe our newspaper would like to do an in-depth article on it?

Gene Jones

Views expressed here are the writers' personal opinions, and not the newspaper's. Email