GOD TV and the Bedouin Village

Over the past fifteen years, the satellite channel GOD TV has emerged as one of the most significant players in global charismatic Christianity. It began in the UK, bringing the likes of Fred Price and Creflo Dollar (whom I blogged on here) to British audiences, but its reach is now international and its founders – Rory and Wendy Alec – enjoy support that ranges from Benny Hinn, Rick Joyner (blogged here), and Cindy Jacobs (blogged here) in the USA through to RT Kendall, Colin Dye (blogged here), and Matthew Ashimolowo in the UK, Ulf Ekman in Sweden (blogged here), and Paul Dhinakharan in India (blogged here).

Although the Alecs were brought up in the Rhema movement in South Africa, which emphasises the Prosperity Gospel, their channel showcases a wider range of Charismatic beliefs. In particular, there is an apocalyptic drama penned by Wendy Alec entitled Chronicles of Brothers, which promotes “New World Order” conspiracy theories, and an emphasis on Christian dominion of society – Wendy Alec’s book Against All Odds includes a prophecy about the rise of a Christian ruler of Britain who will rule “with a rod of iron”, and that, following a “wave of prayer” on the east coast of the USA, there will be a joining of “the lion and the eagle”.

Rachel Tabachnick has some further background at Talk to Action (links added):

God TV is incorporated as a nonprofit in the U.S. under the name Angel Christian Television Trust, and has regional offices in the U.S. including a base in Grandview, Missouri, near  Mike Bickle‘s International House of Prayer (IHOP) headquarters (outside Kansas City, MO). The Alecs bought a historic estate in that area in 2009.

Directors of God TV’s U.S. entity include (according to their latest 990 tax form) Francis Frangipane, also an international leader and major thinker in the New Apostolic movement.  Frangipane teaches that believers can be perfected and take “dominion” over the earth through “spiritual warfare.”  (Ed Kalnins of Wasilla Assembly of God describes Frangipane as his “spiritual father,”  in New Apostolic lingo usually meaning that Frangipane is his apostolic authority.)

Several programmes broadcast by GOD TV have been noted by Right Wing Watch.

GOD TV’s HQ is Jerusalem; as a blurb explains:

As the only TV network to broadcast globally from Jerusalem, GOD TV recognizes the modern State of Israel as a fulfillment of Bible prophecy and supports the Jewish people through projects such as its ‘One Million+ Trees for Israel’ campaign.

In particular, GOD TV gives a platform for John Hagee, whose apocalyptic Christian Zionism drips with conspiracy theories about the “Illuminati” and such, and whose theology infamously includes the notion that Hitler was a “hunter” sent by God to persuade the Jews to move to Israel.

GOD TV’s association with the “One Million Trees” campaign has of late become a source of controversy; Rabbis for Human Rights-North America and the Jewish Alliance for Change explain that:

At the beginning of the 1950’s, Israel evacuated by force the Bedouin living in el Arakib, north of Beer Sheba. The evacuees were told that their lands were needed for military exercises, and promised that within six months they would be allowed to return to their village. This promise that was not kept. Instead, by means of the Land Purchase Legislation of 1953, various government agencies used the forced absence of the Bedouin from the area to transfer ownership of their lands to the State.

…The Israel Land Administration (ILA) transferred by lease the lands of el-Arakib to the Jewish National Fund (JNF) for the purpose of forestation. Following approval authorized by the ILA, the JNF began land works of unprecedented proportions on the lands of el-Arakib resulting in massive changes in the region’s topography and the forestation of these lands. The JNF last week established a large new bulldozer camp just one kilometer from El-Arakib, and is now planting one million trees in Israel, including many near the village of Al-Arakib, as part of the “God-TV Forest.” JNF has accepted substantial donations from an evangelical Christian ministry called God-TV, who claim to have received “instructions from God…to prepare the land for the return of my Son…[to] plant a million trees.”

Nuri al-Okbi, the head of the Association for Protection of the Rights of Bedouins, is currently in prison for running a garage without a license – Judge Zachariya Yemini is quoted as having handed down a custodial sentence because “treating the defendant leniently would constitute a negative message to the public, and especially to the Bedouins”.

Max Blumenthal recently visited GOD TV’s studio  in Jerusalem and had a chat with one of the workers there, a man from the Netherlands named Klaas:

He told me that while they are planting a million trees to beautify the land for the Second Coming of Christ, he knew nothing about Al-Arakib. “The JNF hasn’t told us anything about that and we certainly wouldn’t be a part of anything that would do what you described,” he said. Then he demanded I support my claims with evidence.

Klaas allowed me to go online on one of GOD TV’s computers to show him my video of the demolition of Al-Arakib. Unfortunately, Google and YouTube were blocked by a search filter on all of the network’s computers…

As I was leaving, Klaas suddenly grew argumentative. “An Israeli friend who lives in the Negev told me the Bedouins have to be removed because they steal everything,” he said. “That’s their way of life — theft.”

I asked if he ever spoken to a Bedouin or gone to the Negev to see the situation for himself. He said he hadn’t… “I noticed in Holland a lot of people said they were Christian but they didn’t even go to church, so I realized that they were not really Christians. I mean, what kind of Christians are these Palestinians?” Klaas said. He seemed to be suggesting that anyone who was not born-again was not an authentic Christian.

According to the GOD TV website, “For every $25/£15/€20 you donate, GOD TV will plant one tree in either your name or in the name(s) of your loved one(s).”

Name variation: al-‘Araqib