Rev. Naim Ateek is the founder of Sabeel. At a Sabeel conference, I would expect him to be universally revered. I’ve been to couple of Sabeel conferences as they are based in Pdx which is also my hometown. The quality of some of the speakers, particularly the Jewish ones, Max Blumenthal, Mikko Paled, Phyllis Bennis were excellent. The problem is that Sabeel even though it has an office in Palestine isn’t run by Palestinians. What you ask? It claims to be “the voice of the Palestinian Christians and is ecumenical you say”. Well no, it has had 35 chapters in the US and all but one have no Palestinians as their officers. I’ve asked Reverand Toll,
Sabeel’s white cofounder, what percentage of its monies come from Palestinians and it is less that 2%. So 98% non Palestinian. So it is a white run organizations with almost all monies given by whites and claims to act in the interest of Palestinian Christians without much of our voices unless approved by the whites who control it.
So to go back to the original point which is of credibility. Sabeel is for the training of white Protestants about Israel Palestine. It serves a useful function there as white Protestants really don’t like to hear from people of color unless they “Control” them or their message is approved beforehand. But in terms of credibility inside the Palestinian community, Naim Ateek and Sabeel has none. It is a tool created by white protestants to educate white protestants (an essential function to move investment screens forward recently) but a legitimate expression of Palestinians with credibility in our community, it is not.