The groups seeking to influence the mainline churches denominational meetings are a motley crew of left-wing political outfits and their allies inside those denominations. In case you aren’t familiar with them, I’d like to introduce them to you.
First, there’s the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO). It calls itself “the largest and most diverse coalition working to change U.S. policy toward Israel/Palestine to support human rights, international law, and equality.” That sounds nice, but it’s just verbiage. So is the Campaign’s claim not to support either a two-state or one-state solution to the Palestinian problem.
The reason is that the USCEIO supports, as a “human right,” the so-called “right of return” for Palestinians. This refers to the claim that hundreds of thousands of Arabs were forced at gunpoint by Israel to leave the country in 1948, and that those still alive and all of their descendants should have the freedom to return to Israel, reclaim any property they claim to have held at the time, and become citizens of the country. (In fact, most of the Arabs who left Israel at the time of the invasion of the new nation by five Arab armies did so simply to get out of the way of the fighting, or because they listened to Arab propaganda and thought they’d be returning home in a few weeks once their brethren had pushed the Jews into the sea. Check out the history as it was recorded at the time here. It should also be noted that almost a million Jews were expelled from various Arab nations in 1948 and years following, and the USCEIO has never uttered a word suggesting that they should be allowed to return to their former homes.)
This, of course, is a formula for the destruction of Israel as a Jewish national homeland. Adding what is now millions of Palestinians to the over one million Arabs who are already citizens of Israel (because they didn’t leave in 1948, and have therefore enjoyed greater freedom than any of their Arab brethren for over 60 years) would create an Arab majority. Assuming Israel remained a democracy, once the Palestinians were in charge of the country, things would change, to say the least. It is hardly beyond the ream of possibility that the new Arab-ruled Israel would expel the Jewish population, just as the Iraqis, Egyptians, Libyans, Syrians, and others before them. It’s also likely that, since the vast majority of Palestinians are Muslims, that Christians and any Jews allowed to remain would become dhimmis in short order. Finally, of course, there’s the dreadful human rights record of every other Arab nation to consider. Would a Palestinian-ruled Israel ape Syria or Saudi Arabia? Maybe not, but there’s little reason for Israel’s Jewish population to expect anything different, especially given the corruption and human rights violations of the Palestinian Authority, and the anti-Semitic ravings of Hamas.
The USCEIO is of the same mind as its leftist allies: Palestinians deserve the right of national self-determination, but Jews do not. It states as much in its FAQ:
The US Campaign does not endorse either a one-state or a two-state solution, but rather upholds the Palestinian right to self-determination. We believe the Palestinians must be empowered to exercise this right, and that the international community has a responsibility towards the right of the Palestinian to self-determination.
No mention of such a right for Israelis, or Israeli Jews, is mentioned anywhere on its web site.
That the USCEIO marches in lockstep with the far left is no surprise. Among the organizations that are members of this anti-Israel umbrella is a veritable Who’s Who of the American extreme left. Among the member groups are long-time Communist fronts like the US Peace Council and the National Lawyers Guild, the International Socialist Organization, Code Pink, Global Exchange, the Council for the National Interest, the International Solidarity Movement, the U.S. Green Party, the Institute for Policy Studies, We Are Wide Awake (a project of anti-Semitic web site Veterans Today‘s Eileen Fleming), the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, the War Resisters League, If Americans Knew, the Rachel Corrie Foundation, and the U.S. Campaign fro Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.
Of course, the secular left is not alone in the USCEIO, which includes a wide range of church groups. Among these are the General Board of Global Ministries and General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, the Methodist Federation for Social Action, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, the Episcopal Peace Fellowship Israel Palestine Network, the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina, the PCUSA’s Israel Palestine Mission Network, the American Friends Service Committee, United Methodist Kairos Response, Pax Christi, Friends of Sabeel-North America, Christian Peacemakers Teams, Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
Don’t think, however, that these Christian organizations (other than the Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, which I’ll return to in a moment) have a lot of say within the USCEIO. Of the five staff of the Campaign, the two most important and visible are Jewish, while the other three are of indeterminate religious background (though one has an Arabic name). The membership of the Steering Committee is especially interesting. For at least the last five years, one member has been Judith LeBlanc, a vice-chair of the Communist Party USA and national field organizer for Peace Action, which is also a USCEIO member organization. Another is Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Yet another is Felicia Eaves, whose connections to the far left include Black Voices for Justice and the Marxist-dominated United for Peace and Justice, and who has been a featured speaker at events sponsored by the likes of the neo-Stalinist International ANSWER. Also on the Steering Committee are members from the Muslim American Society, American Muslims for Palestine, and the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California. Left-wing Judaism has a representative in Sydney Levy of Jewish Voice for Peace (remember this name–it will come up again tomorrow). Bringing up the rear are a couple of leftist media types (Andrew Kadi of Adalah-NY and Bill Fletcher Jr. of Black Commentator.com) and two representatives of Christian organizations: David Wildman of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries and Mike Merryman-Lotze of the American Friends Service Committee.
Merryman-Lotze is the Israel-Palestine Program Director for the AFSC, but has otherwise kept a low profile on the Internet. Wildman, the “Executive Secretary for Human Rights and Racial Justice in Mission Contexts and Relationships” at the UMGBGM, is another story. He has been talking about Israeli “apartheid” and “colonialism” for years, as well as advocating for divestment. He has said of Zionism, “It’s a theology that is deeply exclusivist and racist.” An article of his appeared at Electronic Intifada in which he wrote:
The New Testament was written in a context of Roman colonial rule, discrimination, and military occupation in Palestine. It also took place in the midst of an active armed resistance movement (the Zealots) against colonialism and occupation. So, if we want to understand fully the meaning of biblical texts for today, it is helpful to listen to Palestinians who are facing the same dynamics of military occupation, colonial control of their land and apartheid-like discrimination.
You decide just what that is supposed to mean, or justify.
The USCEIO is not alone in its efforts to infiltrate the churches. A close ally in this effort is Jewish Voice for Peace. Both the staff and board of directors of JVP are shot through with individuals with resumes full of left-wing activism:
*Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson: “Rebecca has over fifteen years of experience in community organizing, advocacy, program development and fundraising in the United States and Israel.”
*Director of Advocacy Sydney Levy: “Sydney has worked for over 15 years in nonprofits advocating for LGBT human rights organizing for media justice, and assisting in the preparation of death row appeals.”
*Administrative Director Jane Suskin: “Long active in justice, peace and feminist causes.”
*Board member and treasurer Jethro Eisenstein: “Since 1971 he has been involved in the longest-running civil rights case in New York, which established a right to sue the NY Police Department to restrict surveillance of peaceful political activity.”
Board member and secretary Jordan Ash: “He later dropped out of college to work as a union organizer for SEIU. After 12 years working at ACORN, where he played a leading role in the group’s campaign against predatory mortgage lending, he returned to the labor movement and now works for SEIU again.”
*Board member Noah Winer: “…was a founding campaign strategist at MoveOn.org from 2003 to 2010.”
You get the idea. JVP is a political organization, and needless to say not a Christian one. It has no interest whatsoever in Christian theology or ethics, and doesn’t care what the right stance would be for Christian denominations to take would be based on their own beliefs or interests, and yet is heavily involved in the effort to get the denominations meeting this summer to buy into its divestment/boycott/sanctions agenda.
Jewish Voice for Peace has put out a flyer in connection with the Methodist General Conference that you can see here. Among the anti-Israel voices quoted in it are Archbishop Desmond Tutu (who thinks that pretty much everything is related to apartheid), and a Holocaust survivor named Hajo Meyer, a favorite of the anti-Semite set who has expressed support for the bizarre theory that most Jews are not really Jews, but descendants of a Central Asian people called the Khazars; referred to Zionism as “racist and separatist”; and declared that the Jewish state is the modern equivalent of Nazi Germany. He’s also claimed that the definition of “anti-Semitism” has changed:
“Formerly an anti-Semite was somebody who hated Jews because they were Jews and had a Jewish soul. But nowadays an anti-Semite is somebody who is hated by Jews.”
That’s the kind of person that Jewish Voice for Peace wants United Methodists to listen to next week.
Tomorrow: the tactics being used by the political left to infiltrate the churches.
(Cross-posted at Stand Firm.)