Israel’s right to defend itself in war with Hamas: Bishop Dr. Kenroy A. Cuffy

Bishop Dr. Kenroy A. Cuffy.
Photo by Gaylene Charles-Cuffy

An evangelical Bishop in Brooklyn has come to Israel’s defense, saying that it has the right to defend itself in the war against Hamas, the Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement.

“I am of the strongest opinion that every nation has a sovereign responsibility to defend itself from any force of terror and anything or anyone who will impede upon the rights and livelihood of its citizens,” Dr. Kenroy A. Cuffy, founder and bishop of Judah Worship Center Ministries, Inc., on Church Avenue in Brooklyn, told Caribbean Life exclusively on Sunday.

“So, let me be clear, Israel has the right to defend itself and its citizens,” added the Vincentian-born bishop, who, on Jun. 28, 1999, founded Judah Worship Center Ministries, Inc., formerly known as Abundantly Life Brooklyn Church of God. “Hamas terrorist attack on innocent Israeli citizens on Oct. 7, 2023, who were just enjoying themselves, is preposterous and evil.

“This provocation is extremely hard to resist,” continued Dr. Cuffy, who earned his doctoral degree in theology from Open Bible Theological Seminary in Greenville, S.C. “As a result, Israel has intensified its offensive strategies in retaliation for the Hamas-initiated atrocities that killed over 1,139 Israeli civilians, and seized approximately 200 civilians as hostages. However, residents of Gaza are caught in the crossfire of Israeli counterattacks on Hamas’ cruelty.

“Understandably, Israel response to the attacks from Hamas is within the scope of what any sovereign nation will do,” he said, noting a New York Post article that states that a child’s backpack was found on Oct. 22, 2023, filled with 7 kilograms of remote-activated Hamas explosives “meant to detonate upon being picked up.”

Bishop Cuffy said Israeli President Isaac Herzog confirmed that Hamas militants were found carrying out instructions to deploy cyanide-based chemical weapons.

In addition, he said the United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Hamas of blocking American citizens from leaving Gaza after the original attacks.

“These actions of Hamas seem to suggest a total disregard for civilians who are stuck in Gaza,” Bishop Cuffy said. “This is the extent to which this war is affecting innocent lives and the cruelty they are suffering.

“I am of the opinion that the escalation of the war is due to Hamas’ refusal to back down and a meaningful attempt by both sides to reach a peace deal,” he added. “This again has provoked Israel to continue its mission to destroy Hamas entirely. Consequently, thousands of innocent civilians are caught in this dreaded rivalry between Israel and Hamas.

“My question is: why do the innocent have to always pay the price for the guilty?” Bishop Cuffy continued. “Why so many innocent civilians have to suffer? Why children are at the point of dying from starvation? Why do innocent families have to live in fear, driven from their homes and, in so many cases, have no homes to return to?

“Undoubtedly, this situation has been raised to the states of a humanitarian crisis,” he said. “Innocent civilians are suffering the greater consequences of this war.”

Dr. Cuffy pointed to reports that, since Oct. 7, 2023, at least 31,184 Palestinians have been killed and 72,889 injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza.

On the other hand, he noted that a revised death toll in Israel from the Oct. 7, 2023 attacks stands at 1,139.

“These numbers of casualties on both sides bear witness to the fact that the consequences of this war are inhumane, heart-wrenching and painful,” Dr. Cuffy said.

He noted that Hamas was founded in 1987 during the first Palestinian intifada, or uprising, against Israeli occupation.

It was a spinoff from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist religious, social and political movement, said Bishop Cuffy, adding that the rivalry between Palestine and Israel is “deeply rooted in biblical history and has never been one of genetic differences.”

“This is a rivalry based in cultural and religious differences,” he said. “Archaeological, biblical and genetic data support that both Jews and Palestinians came from the ancient Canaanites. Hence, these people seem to have more in common than that which divides them. They are all descendants of Abraham and should find a common ground to co-exist.”

At the same time, Bishop Cuffy said anti-semitism is “one of the great threats against the Jewish people.

“It is my opinion that all nationalities, race, color or class must be treated with respect, decency and dignity,” he said. “No one should be hostile to the Jewish people, and the Jewish people should not be hostile to anyone as well.

“The issue of anti-semitism, in my view, is one that lacks of cultural identities,” Bishop Cuffy added. “An examination of cultural identities and values will showcase that societal norms and values help individuals understand a certain culture with precision.

“Such norms emanate from primary or secondary socialization processes that instill among people what their society expects them to do or not do to guide morality,” he continued. “Each culture has different norms and values, which explains why people from different cultures differ in their world views. Such differences are what differentiate cultures, offering each an identity regarding the unique characteristics, values and beliefs that set them apart as a group.”

In this nexus, Bishop Cuffy said the Jewish people “must be viewed as a people of unique descent, characteristics, values and belief.

“Hostility against them is inhumane and totally unaccepted,” he said. “They must be treated with respect and dignity. Anti-semitism should not be tolerated or given any consideration in today’s society. It is my opinion that all leaders of religious faith must engage in teaching the importance of cultural identity, cultural humility and cultural integration.”

From a broader perspective, Dr. Cuffy said culture is the characteristics and knowledge that an ethnic group possesses, such as a unique language, religion and art.

“Therefore, all people of race, color, beliefs or class need to co-exist together, so that our world can experience the vastness of our profound uniqueness and abilities,” he said. “I endeavor to teach the youths and all people of my congregation the importance of embracing different cultures.”

While in living in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Bishop Cuffy pastored the Georgetown New Testament Church of God for six years, and served as the regional youth and Christian education director for the Church of God St. Vincent and St. Lucia for five years.

After migrating to the United States in October 1995, Bishop Cuffy continued his religious vocation, founding Abundantly Life Brooklyn Church of God on June 28, 1999 before renaming it Judah Worship Center Ministries, Inc.

Besides his doctorate, Bishop Cuffy pursued many fields of education. He holds degrees in para-legalism, civil litigation and business administration, and is currently completing a master’s degree in human service counseling and life coaching.

Bishop Cuffy considers himself “a servant of God to His people.”

He believes that his highest duty in life is to mentor and lead the people of God, adding that his purpose is “wrapped up in doing service for God.”

Bishop Cuffy is married to his lovely wife, Gaylene Charles-Cuffy, a union that has produced three beautiful children.

On June 28, 2024, Bishop Cuffy and the Judah Worship Center Ministries, Inc. congregation will celebrate 25 years of ministry in the Borough of Brooklyn.

Judah Worship Center Ministries, Inc. is located at 5509 Church Ave., between 55th and 56th Streets, in Brooklyn.

You can reach Bishop Cuffy at (347) 697-0197.