Israel and the Middle East


Behold the triumph of left-wing, anti-Israel ideology over common sense or even decency in this news from the liberal organization J Street via the Washington Free Beacon:

The liberal Middle East advocacy group J Street accused Israel of “fanning growing flames of anti-Semitism” by waging a military campaign to stop Hamas terrorists from firing rockets at Israeli civilians.

J Street, which has said little about the conflict in recent weeks, released a statement Friday afternoon after Hamas resumed attacks on Israel moments after a temporary 72-hour ceasefire had expired.

J Street decided that now is the time to “put forward some hard truths” about Israel as it fights to defend its citizens from terrorism.

“Failure to solve this conflict is eating away at support for Israel around the world, damaging the country’s legitimacy and, in some cases, fanning growing flames of anti-Semitism,” J Street leader Jeremy Ben-Ami said in a posting on the group’s website.

So let me get this straight. Israel is “fanning growing flames of anti-Semitism” by defending itself against the daily attacks coming from the Gaza Strip, launched by an organization dedicated to the eradication of Israel as a state and Jews as a people from the Levant. Israel is fanning those flames.

The moral and political obtuseness of blaming Israel for the acts of anti-Semites (which is to say people who will use any excuse to vent their hate) defies belief. It’s like saying African-Americans “fanned the flames of white racism” because they took advantage of the Emancipation Proclamation rather than supinely remaining slaves.

Justin Welby 3 (2)Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, like so many others in the West, is seemingly incapable of discerning a genuine difference between terrorism and self-defense.  Anglican Ink has his statement in full, but here’s the meat of it:

For all sides to persist with their current strategy, be it threatening security by the indiscriminate firing of rockets at civilian areas or aerial bombing which increasingly fails to distinguish between combatants and non-combatants, is self-defeating. The bombing of civilian areas, and their use to shelter rocket launches, are both breaches of age old customs for the conduct of war. Further political impasse, acts of terror, economic blockades or sanctions and clashes over land and settlements, all increase the alienation of those affected. Populations condemned to hopelessness or living under fear will be violent. Such actions create more conflict, more deaths and will in the end lead to an even greater disaster than the one being faced today. The road to reconciliation is hard, but ultimately the only route to security. It is the responsibility of all leaders to protect the innocent, not only in the conduct of war but in setting the circumstances for a just and sustainable peace.

What is it about so many highly placed Western leaders (Christian and political) that they are unable to make meaningful moral distinctions?

To say that Israel may not under any circumstances bomb civilian areas–even after warning the residents and urging them to evacuate–when Hamas uses those areas for command and control, staging, rocket firing and storage, and sheltering soldiers is in essence to tell Israel it may not defend itself. According to the Church of England press release, Welby “fully accepts that Israel has the same legitimate rights to peace and security as any other state and to self-defence within humanitarian law when faced with an external threat.” But that statement is meaningless when you essentially rule out the possibility of striking back at aggressors who happen to use methods that are contrary to the Geneva Conventions. It’s as if in World War II the Allies had refused to invade Germany because millions of civilians lived there, and so left the Nazi regime intact and capable of re-arming.

In fact, that’s just what Welby and other Western leaders are advocating. They would have Israel immediately stop, before achieving its objectives, giving Hamas the opportunity to re-arm before undertaking the next round of Jew-killing. They would do that to prevent casualties among the population that, you’ll recall, democratically elected a regime advocating genocide, and that continues to support the aims, if not the methods, of that regime.

I’m not advocating killing Gazan civilians because they support Hamas. What I’m suggesting is that the people of Gaza have no problem with what Hamas is doing–they knew when they elected the thugs what they were and how they operated–and so if the result is that, despite Israel’s best efforts, some are killed or wounded in the course of the battle, it is something that they have brought on themselves. Certainly Israel is showing more concern, and offering more assistance, to Gaza’s civilians than Hamas would ever show to Israel’s.

In that regard, please note that Welby’s statement (and for that matter, much of the reporting by the mainstream press) ignores the matter of the tunnels. One gets the feeling that Western leaders and journalists consider the tunnels to be a sideshow, an excuse for Israel to invade. They are not. They are, in fact, the heart of the issue. The daily rocket strikes are dangerous and meant to kill civilians, and as such are a war crime that the world doesn’t care about. They are not very effective, however, in part because of Israel’s anti-missile system called Iron Dome.

The tunnels are another matter.

Hamas has diverted hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid meant for the building of the Gazan economy and infrastructure to build hardened tunnels, not just under Gaza, but into Israel. (Child labor was used to do so, resulting in more than 150 deaths to which the world is oblivious.) The plan was to use them to ferry hundreds of Hamas fighters into towns and cities in Israel for the purpose of killing, if possible, thousands of civilians. It would be Mumbai writ large. There 164 people died, and hundreds were injured, when ten Islamic terrorists attacked civilian targets in the Indian city. Multiply that by ten or twenty at least, and you get an idea of what Hamas was planning. It was to be the Israeli 9/11, inflicted on a population less than 3% the size of the United States.

Israel’s offensive in Gaza is meant to stop that. Justin Welby and others in the hand-wringing community want Israel to halt its efforts to prevent a bloodbath that would make London’s 7/7 attacks look like a stroll in the park. He and they should be ashamed of themselves.

There are many in the Christian world who have rushed to condemn Israel as it defends itself from savages who want to free the Levant of the stain that is Jewish presence. Those condemnations (this one, for instance) are wrong-headed and often misinformed, but they pale in comparison to the enthusiastic embrace of Islamic terrorism by some. Among the latter: Giles Fraser of the Church of England, who wrote in the Guardian:

For decades now the United Nations has been unable to agree a definition of terrorism. Even our own supreme court recently concluded that there is no internationally agreed definition. The stumbling block has been that western governments want states and state agents to be exempt from any definition. And a number of Islamic counties want some national liberation movements exempt.

That’s false, of course. Most if not all Western governments are agreed that Iran and Syria are state sponsors of terrorism. To the extent that they shy away from putting that label on some countries (such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar), it is not because they don’t know what state terrorism is, or because they object to the idea, but because of political considerations, whether good or bad.

I am eating aubergines and flatbread with Dr Samah Jabr in a cool Palestinian cafe in Stoke Newington. A psychiatrist and psychotherapist who works out of East Jerusalem, Dr Jabr is quietly spoken, modest, and perhaps just a little bit shocked by my lapses into overly colourful language. She is an educated, middle-class Palestinian (in no way a rabble-rouser) but she insists that the word terrorist has become a powerful – though often un-thought-through – political pejorative employed to discredit legitimate resistance to the violence of occupation.

What some would call terrorism, she would call a moral duty. She gives me her paper on the subject. “Why is the word ‘terrorist’ so readily applied to individuals or groups who use homemade bombs, but not to states using nuclear and other internationally proscribed weapons to ensure submission to the oppressor?” she asks. She insists that violent resistance must be used in defence and as a last resort. And that it is important to distinguish between civilian and military targets. “The American media call our search for freedom ‘terrorism’,” she complains, “despite the fact that the right to self-determination by armed struggle is permissible under the UN charter’s article 51, concerning self-defence.”

“The right to self-determination” is a fine phrase, one that is joyfully extended by people like Fraser to pretty much every self-identified racial and ethnic group in the world…except Jews. They alone of all the world’s people groups must be required to wander the world, homeless and at the mercy of whoever owns whatever plot of real estate they have been temporarily allowed to settle in. Fraser should know all about the changeable nature of that mercy, given his own country’s history.

Anyway, to the point of Jabr’s diatribe: terrorism is not defined by its use by oppressor or oppressed, nor is it defined by the sophistication of lack thereof of the weapons used. Terrorism is defined by its use against civilian populations. It is used by those who don’t have the means to stand up to military power, so they instead target those who cannot defend themselves. It is the classic weapon of the fanatic, the bully, the coward, and incipient totalitarian, whose use of terror as a weapon illustrates well the kind of rule under which others would live if the terrorist triumphs. Indeed, the reports out of Gaza that indicate that millions of tons of concrete that were given for humanitarian purposes have been diverted from a needy Palestinian civilian population to build tunnels that can be used to facilitate the further slaughter of Israeli civilians. Hamas is an equal opportunity terrorist organization in that regard–as long as it is around, everyone, Jew and Arab, will suffer.

The “right to self-determination” that Jabr trumpets has its limits. It ends where it demands that, for the sake of one’s sick fantasies, another people must die. Hamas has declared in no uncertain terms that if it has its way, what is now Israel will cease to exist and all Jews will be expelled or die. Israel has no more obligation to lay down its arms in the face of such evil than any other nation.

But these aren’t just the ravings of a deranged shrink. Fraser agrees:

I took part in the Moral Maze recently on Radio 4 and was howled at for suggesting that there could be a moral right of resistance to oppression. And the suggestion was made that, as a priest, I ought to take no such line. The weird thing about this is that Christianity has thought a great deal about the idea of just resistance. The Reformation, for instance, saw a flurry of moral justifications for resistance to the state, when that state is seeking to impose on its subjects its own particular understanding of religious faith. In 1574, for example, Theodore Beza published his The Right of Magistrates in which he affirmed the right of resistance – and violent resistance in the final instance – to state tyranny. This sort of thing was hardly a one-off.

Apparently Fraser got lost in the moral maze. He seems unable to understand the difference between resistance to tyranny in the form of military or police forces (in other words, the uniformed representatives of a government) and the deliberate targeting of civilians. The Elector of Saxony taking the field against the Holy Roman Empire, Islamic fundamentalists blowing up teenagers in pizza parlors. You say potato, I say patattah. In the words of an unaccountably famous woman, what real difference does it make?

It is nonsense to think that being a state grants some sort of blanket immunity from the charge of terrorism – and certainly not from the moral opprobrium we attach to that term. We talk of asymmetric warfare. This is asymmetric morality: one that, in terms of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, loads the dice in favour of the occupation. This is just not right.

I’ll tell you what’s not right. What’s not right is that the Church of England numbers among its ordained clergy a man so morally obtuse that he can’t tell the difference between national self-defense imperfectly carried out and plain, purposeful, pre-meditated murder.

Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of some inconsequential religious organization in Geneva, weighs in again on the conflict in the Gaza Strip:

The World Council of Churches is deeply saddened and gravely concerned by the continued escalation of the military operations in Gaza, human devastation on every side, and the disproportionately high number of Palestinian civilian casualties, including women and children.

The expression he’s looking for here is “human shields,” the purposeful placing of civilians in harm’s way by Hamas in order to use their deaths and injuries for propaganda. He never does come up with the right phrase, however, because doing so would suggest that Israel is not the sole cause of those casualties. Can’t have that, now.

As well as the Israeli strikes against civilians and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, the Council condemns the indiscriminate firing of rockets against Israeli civilian targets by Hamas and the positioning of rocket launchers in close proximity to civilian populations.

They put rockets in schools, for goodness’ sake. Their headquarters is currently in a hospital. Why are people like Tveit so stubbornly incapable of being precise and specific in their condemnations of Hamas’ depredations? I suppose it is an improvement that he’s finally acknowledging that Hamas is targeting civilians. What he fails to note is that Hamas hits civilians on purpose, while Israel warns civilians about their attacks in an effort to minimize civilian casualties. But that distinction seems lost in him.

The Council appeals to all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law. The indiscriminate and disproportionate killing of civilians in the context of an armed conflict is strictly prohibited by international humanitarian law.

That is aimed only at Israel, and says nothing about Hamas telling its people to ignore Israeli warnings so as to maximize civilian losses.

The World Council of Churches calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities in Gaza, and for restrictions on the movement of persons and goods into and out of the Gaza Strip to be lifted so that urgent humanitarian needs can be dealt with.

And if this were done, does anyone suppose that Hamas wouldn’t take advantage of it to bring in more weapons and send out more terrorists? I wonder if Tveit is even aware of the attacks that Hamas has been attempting using tunnels that open up in Israel itself.

This latest resort to armed conflict – and the consequent intolerable suffering inflicted on families and communities – can do nothing to promote a just and sustainable peace for Israelis and Palestinians. On the contrary, it serves only to perpetuate the deadly cycle of violence, stoking the fires of mutual demonization and division, and further diminishing the vision of two peoples living side-by-side in peaceful co-existence.

Peace in Israel and Palestine will come only through the restoration of compassion between human beings, through seeking together common paths towards justice and peace, and through a genuine commitment to creating the basis for future generations of Israelis and Palestinians to live side-by-side in peace.

Fine words. If only one of the sides in this conflict wasn’t determined to annihilate the other and kill all of its Jewish inhabitants. What Tveit doesn’t seem capable of understanding is that Hamas doesn’t want “peaceful co-existence.” It wants Israel, and all Jewish Israelis, to die. Everything Hamas does must be seen in that context, but Tveit simply closes his eyes, sticks his fingers in his ears, and cries, “peaceful co-existence! peaceful co-existence!”

Not that it matters much. No one is listening to his gibbering anyway.

I was beginning to wonder if any of the usual suspects were going to express their usual outrageous outrage at the depredations of the Israelis in Gaza. Then, this morning, World Council of Churches General Secretary Olav Fykse Tveit finally came through:

We strongly condemn the indiscriminate attacks by Israeli military on the civilian population in Gaza, as we absolutely condemn the absurd and immoral firing of rockets by militants from Gaza to populated areas in Israel.

The attacks by Israel in Gaza are not “indiscriminate,” nor are they on civilians, of course, except in the fevered imagination of Geneva bureaucrats. Israel has been contacting Gaza civilians through various means to let them know that attacks are coming because there are Hamas fighters on the premises or in the neighborhood, and that they should evacuate.Hamas’ response is that they should stay right where they are and die for the sake of turning world opinion against Israel. The use of human shields, like the intentional targeting of civilians, is a war crime, but one that Hamas will never be charged with, nor will it be acknowledged in the cultured salons of Geneva. I do think it’s a nice touch to refer to the artillery fire directed by Hamas at Israel as “absurd,” though.

Since last Monday, Israeli aerial bombardment of Gaza has killed 86 Palestinians and injured more than 550 people. Most of the dead are reported to be civilians, including the elderly, women and children. There are many who are mourning the loss of their loved ones among families and friends. We join them in prayers, so that God bestows his love and mercy upon them and comforts them during these difficult moments of sorrow.

What really bothers Tveit is that Hamas has not succeeded in killing some Jews. If some of Hamas rockets actually found living targets, at least it would be a fair fight. The fact that it is Hamas intention to kill as many Jews as possible with their rocket fire is beside the point. The fact that Hamas has fired rockets at the nuclear power plant at Dimona, a direct hit on which might kill tens of thousands, is beside the point. Human shields are being killed in Gaza, and there are no Israeli casualties to balance the spreadsheet.

Both Israelis and Palestinians require their well-being, security and a just and genuine peace.

Which is never going to happen as long as an organization with the goal of destroying Israel and killing or expelling every Jew from the Holy Land is in charge in Gaza and part of the Palestinian government.

The recent failure of the negotiations and the loss of prospects for a two-state solution and the end of occupation, as well as a just peace and vision of a common future have led to the unbearable and infernal cycle of violence and hatred that we are witnessing today.

No statement on the Middle East from the WCC would be complete without a reference to the “cycle of violence,” a cycle that just happens to always get set into motion by one or more of the various Palestinian terror groups. Daniel Pipes noted on NRO this morning that there was a cease-fire agreed to by Israel and Hamas after the last round of action in November of 2012, and that on June 11 Hamas broke it without any provocation whatsoever. Maybe their stock of rockets had gotten too big, and they needed to draw down inventory. Whatever the reason, pretending that this is part of some unending “cycle,” one that flips repeatedly between the two sides, is ridiculous and dishonest. In other words, par for the WCC.

What is happening in Gaza now is not an isolated tragedy. These events have to be seen in the context of the occupation of Palestinian territories that began in 1967. The WCC has always called for an end to this illegal occupation and the continuous blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel. Without an end to the occupation, the cycle of violence will continue.

Please note that apparently nothing of any note happened before 1967. Pogroms against Jews in the Levant in the 1920s and 1930s, the rejection of the United Nations partition plan and five nation invasion of Israel in 1948, the planned invasion of Israel in 1967 that resulted in the occupation–none of that actually happened. The Garden of Eden existed in the region until Israel just took it into its collective head to capture Sinai, Gaza, and the West Bank in 1967, because Jews really like having to deal with the daily headache of ruling over a hostile people. And it can’t be denied that the Garden would be restored if only Israel would leave the West Bank. Then everything would be rainbows and unicorns, and Hamas would be shown to be the community organizing outfit it really is.

I can’t wait.

Anti-Israel activists have in recent years been seeking to strike at one of the basic foundations for support of the Jewish state in the United States, the evangelical community. They have done so in a variety of ways: through emotional appeals on behalf of beleaguered Palestinians, through deceptively blaming Israel and its occupation for all that ails the Holy Land, by ignoring any contrary evidence or denouncing it so tepidly as to make no difference, and by attacking all support of Israel by evangelicals as theologically toxic “Christian Zionism.” (For the record: “Christian Zionism” is a technical term that has come to be applied to the support of Israel that is driven by eschatology informed by dispensationalism. The majority, perhaps vast majority, of American evangelicals who support Israel, myself included, are no more dispensationalists than we are Zoroastrians.)

Luke Moon of the Institute on Religion and Democracy offers a look at some of the evangelicals who have been leading this charge, including luminaries such as Willow Creek Church’s Lynn Hybels, Wheaton College’s Gary Burge, and dreadlocked Philadelphia activist Shane Claiborne. Here’s an excerpt about an organization that will not be getting any further support from me until they lay off the anti-Israel politics, World Vision:

World Vision’s antagonism toward Israel is largely the work of an activist named Tom Getman. Getman served as director of World Vision’s program in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza before being tasked with establishing World Vision’s office in Washington, DC. After he left World Vision, he was able to abandon his veneer of neutrality and joined the boards of the ferociously pro-Palestinian groups Evangelicals for Mid-East Understandings, Sabeel, Sojourners, and KairosUSA. In a brief interview with fellow anti-Israel activist Rev. Steven Sizer, Getman bragged about his connections in the White House and on Capitol Hill. These “friends,” he claimed, would encourage the U.S. government to engage in dialogue with other friends of his, who happen to be leaders of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.

“We have friends… inside the White House, we have friends in the Senate like people in this room today, who are intent on putting steel in the spine so Obama can follow through on what he has said, not only the words but to do. Like our friends Nasrallah [Hezbollah’s political leader] and Sheik Fedlallah [Hezbollah’s spiritual leader] and many others in the Middle East have said to us, the problem with you Christians is you don’t do what’s in the book. So we are trying to encourage Christians within the administration or active Jews within the administration to really stand up and let Obama be Obama in terms of what his heart says in terms of dialogue.”

Because World Vision is a trusted organization in most Evangelical churches, it is very easy for them to promote the one-sided message that Israel is 100 percent to blame for Palestinian suffering—especially that of Palestinian Christians. This issue is particularly emotive, and thus one that pro-Palestinian Evangelicals constantly emphasize. In 2011, for example, World Vision started the Palestinian Christian Engagement Initiative (PCEI). According to Steve Haas, Catalyst Officer for World Vision, the purpose of the initiative was to bring together Palestinian churches in order to address the problem of Palestinian Christian emigration. Haas parrots the typical explanation of such emigration, saying, “Christians particular to this part of the world were emigrating very fast, a lot of it simply due to the impact of the occupation and the bad economy it was creating for Palestinians here.” It is true that Christians in the Middle East are emigrating very rapidly. The main reason, however, is not Israel, but Islam. In fact, since 1967, the number of Christians in Israel has increased while the number of Christians in the West Bank and Gaza has plummeted.

World Vision’s focus in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza is based on the noble work of providing assistance to children and families trapped in abject poverty. But its funding for conferences like “Christ at the Checkpoint” and “Impact: Holy Land”, which are created to subvert Evangelical support of Israel, undermines its pledge of neutrality.

Read it all.

 

That anti-Semitism has penetrated the mainline churches in general, and the Presbyterian Church (USA) in particular, is no secret. (I’ve written about it many time, for instance here.) While some of it is open to public view, much of it is not. Now, NGO Monitor, an Israel-based organization that seeks to both expose anti-Semitism in so-called “human rights” and “humanitarian” organizations and hold them accountable for ignoring their own principles, has ripped the mask off of the lead agitator against Israel within the PCUSA. In a devastatingreport, it gives us a picture of the non-public face of the Israel Palestine Mission Network and its allies in the PCUSA and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

After Viola Larson of Naming His Grace, Ethan Felson of the Jewish Public Affairs Council, and I exposed the Facebook page of the IPMN and its habit of linking to anti-Semitic web sites such as Veterans Today, the page was taken down. Not long after, a new Facebook page was established as a “closed but not secret” page. That meant that only those who are approved by the moderators, including Noushin Framke, the prime public face of IPMN, may post or read what’s on the page. According to NGO Monitor, the page has 289 members, including:

Paid staff of the Presbyterian Church (USA):

•Bill Somplatsky-Jarman, Coordinator, Social Witness Ministries at the Presbyterian Church
•Greg Allen Pickett, General Manager, World Mission at Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
•Rev. Kate Taber, Facilitator for Peacemaking and Mission Partnerships at Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and Mission Co-Worker in Israel and Palestine

Presbyterian and Protestant academics:

•Jeri Parris Perkins, Dean of Religious Life at Presbyterian College
•Joshua Ralston, Instructor of Theology at Union Presbyterian Seminary
•Laura Brekke, Director of Religious Diversity at Santa Clara University

Jewish Voice for Peace:

•Rabbi Alissa Shira Wise, JVP’s Co-Director of Organizing
•Rabbi Brant Rosen, Co-Chair, JVP Rabbinic Council
•Rabbi Lynne Gottlieb, Co-founder of Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence, Berkeley, CA, Member of JVP Advisory Board and Rabbinic Council
•Sydney Levy, JVP’s Director of Advocacy

Others:

•Rick Ufford-Chase, for mer PCUSA Moderator and Executive Director, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (an independent body).
•Walt Davis, a key author of Zionism Unsettled and education co-chair of IPMN
•Anna Baltzer, National Organizer at US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
•Jeff Halper, Director of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD)
•Dalit Baum (“Dov Baum” on the IPMN page), Israel-Palestine Program Director in San Francisco of the American Friends Service Committee

In other words, this page is not made up of anonymous crackpots from the sewers of the Internet. It has a lot of members whose names are well-known in the PCUSA, in mainline circles generally, among anti-Israel activists, and in academia. Obviously the moderators have enough control over the page that, where discussion gets out of the bounds of civilized conversation, and veers off into bigotry, hate, or anti-Semitism, they would be able to delete posts and expel the offenders.

Though they have that control, it would seem that the bounds of civilized discussion at “Friends of IPMN-PC(USA) Israel Palestine Mission Network” are extremely elastic. I can’t get on to the page, but NGO Monitor did, and here’s some of what has appeared without any approbation from the moderators:

 

Not content with declaring that Zionists aren’t Jews, things get down to the Stormfront level when IPMN members decide that Jews aren’t Jews:

And now we’re into Louis Farrakhan “Judaism is a gutter religion” territory. Of course, that “tribal god” line is also used in the “Zionism Unsettled” document, so that’s nothing new for these people.

There’s more, and you’re welcome to take a look at the link to the NGO Monitor report, but I think you get the idea.

As I said above, the moderators from IPMN have more than enough control over this to toss bigots and delete anti-Semitic postings. Why don’t they? Has to be one of two things: either they don’t see, e.g., questioning the Jewishness of millions of Jews as anti-Semitism, or they agree enough so that they have no problem letting it stay there. It’s also interesting that none of the PCUSA leadership, academics, BDS leaders, or Jewish (!) activists have protested any of this. (They can say they have, but that’s meaningless until the page is opened up for public scrutiny.)

So now that these cockroaches have been flushed into the public square, Gradye Parsons and his band of merry pranksters have a choice. They can denounce the IPMN for the anti-Semites and anti-Semite enablers that they are. They can sever all ties between the denomination and the group. (Despite protests to the contrary, PCUSA and IPMN are linked–IPMN gets space on the denominational web site, donations are run through the denomination in order to be tax exempt, the group calls itself the “Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA),” etc.) They can apologize for enabling this hate group to flourish under their wing for so long. They can demand that all material suggesting a connection between PCUSA and IPMN be removed from the latter’s web site and propaganda.

They can do all of this. And I predict that they will do none of it. Because deep down in their black little bureaucrat hearts, Gradye Parsons and the Louisville Mafia agree with the IPMN.

I dare them to prove me wrong.

(Hat tip on NGO Monitor: Viola Larson.)

The Presbyterian Church (USA), having just taken a series of actions to demonize Israel as the source of all evil in the world, now wants American Jews who support Israel to turn the other cheek. The leadership has published “An Open Letter of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to our American Jewish Interfaith Partners” in which they patronize, obfuscate, and desperately seek cover for the tolerance of anti-Semitism in the denomination’s ranks:

We are reaching out to you after our General Assembly’s action, by a 310-303 vote, to recommend to the Presbyterian Foundation and the Board of Pensions to divest from three North American corporations following extensive corporate engagement. The assembly concluded that further engagement would not bring an end to their pursuits that further the Israeli occupation in Palestine. Many of you were with us in Detroit, and your presence and voices were significant. From your presence with us, it was clear that if the assembly acted on divestment, it would deeply affect your communities as well as impact some of our most longstanding interfaith relationships. The assembly’s action came about through much prayer and discernment.

Actually, PCUSA divestment will not end the corporate activities of those companies, either. But it does make the self-righteous Israel-haters feel very good about themselves. As for their “prayer and discernment,” what they actually meant was “political lobbying, one-sided debate, and open demonization of the Middle East’s only democracy.” Whatever.

Of central importance in our deliberations was our continued concern for Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace. How selective divestment may affect the many significant Jewish and Christian relationships at the congregational and national level was also part of the discussion. The close nature of the vote revealed how deeply Presbyterians care about both Jewish and Palestinian neighbors and the assembly’s struggle to make this decision. The assembly explicitly stated that our action to selectively divest was not in support of the global BDS movement. Instead it is one of many examples of our commitment to ethical investing.

What a load of crap. It doesn’t matter how “explicitly” they said they weren’t supporting the BDS movement. That, in fact, is what they did. Words don’t matter, actions do. Their actions, celebrated by BDSers far and wide, were predicated on support for that movement.

As far as their “commitment to ethical investing” goes, here are a few questions for them: do they invest in companies doing business in China? Beijing has occupied Tibet for over 60 years, and done so with far more brutality than Israel would ever hope to muster. Do they invest in companies that do business in Turkey? What do they say about Cyprus? Did they even notice that in the weeks leading up to their recently concluded General Assembly, Russia occupied and then annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine? Did they say a word about it (answer: no)? What about Morocco? It has occupied Western Sahara for forty years, and the PCUSA has just gotten around to thinking about whether they’ll say anything about it. But to PCUSA, none of that matters, because the only real evil that must be confronted world-wide is that of Israel.

The assembly was explicit: our selective divestment of American companies engaged in non-peaceful pursuits that furthers the occupation does not constitute divestment from Israel itself.

Nor does this indicate any desire for the PC(USA) to walk away from our deeply held, multilateral Jewish-Christian relationships. The action included an affirmation of continued interfaith engagement with the Jewish community. We are committed more than ever to sitting at the table and living in community with you.

Yes, they want to continue to talk to Jews, so that they can continue to spit in their faces. At the same time, they continue to harbor in their midst the Israel Palestine Mission Network, a noisy collection of some of the most vicious Israel-haters and, yes, anti-Semites in all of mainline Protestantism. (More on them Monday.) Sure, I can see why Jews should take their protestations of filial feeling seriously.

We believe that being in relationship with the American Jewish communities in authentic ways are central to our Christian values and our shared religious history.

And Jews should care why?

We recognize the hurt that these decisions have caused. We ask that you remain open to us as we participate with you in all our shared spheres of interfaith relationship: our houses of worship, our shared neighborhoods, our workplaces, and even our interfaith families.

They “recognize the hurt.” Big deal. They were warned ahead of time, and they did it anyway, and from all accounts stacked the deck to make sure it happened. The Jewish community should tell them to pound salt.

They then conclude by quoting the full text of resolution 04-04, “On Supporting Middle East Peacemaking.” They did not quote, or refer in any way, to either 04-01 (which calls for PCUSA to ponder the possibility of dropping the mask and calling for a single, Palestinian-dominated state) or 04-09 (which calls for “equal rights” in Israel and the West Bank, without uttering a syllable regarding Palestinian human rights violations or the latter’s desire for a Judenreinstate), both of which passed with large majorities.

With regard to its relationship with American Jews, the PCUSA has made its bed, and then soiled it. It should be made to lie in it until the smell gets overwhelming.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has been slandering Israel and beatifying the Palestinians for years now, but when the General Assembly effectively decided to join the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement late last week, it finally got noticed in high places. The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, gave them both barrels on “Meet the Press” Sunday, as reported by Agence France Press:

“It’s so disgraceful,” Netanyahu said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” news program. “Most Americans understand that Israel is a beacon of civilization and moderation.”

He said that while much of the Middle East was “riveted by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions,” Israel is “the one democracy that upholds basic human rights, that guards the rights of all minorities, that protects Christians.”

Netanyahu advised the Presbyterians to “fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference.”

“I would give them two pieces of advice—one is make sure it’s an armor-plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christian.”

The prime minister may be too polite to say so, but that last is why so many outside the PCUSA bubble consider this move anti-Semitic. The denomination’s tunnel-visioned focus on Israel to the exclusion of virtually all other injustice in the world and especially the Middle East says it all. The terrorism that Israel faces is barely mentioned in General Assembly documents (one even put it in scare quotes when referring to the actions of Hamas, Hezbollah, and comrades). That every other state in the region is a guilty of some form of human rights violations, many on a massive scale, is beneath notice. That other minority groups (Kurds in Iraq and Turkey, Baha’is in Iran, Christians everywhere) are subjected to discrimination, persecution, and sometimes outright murder is cause for mild rebuke at best. (The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns wanted to strike the word “persecution” from the linked overture, contending “The suffering of the church in Egypt and other parts of the world is not only ‘due to sectarian violence and persecution.’ There are many factors involved, including geopolitical and economic factors. The General Assembly should consider all the factors that result in and contribute to sectarian violence. For example, our mission partners in the Middle East have clearly pointed out that U.S. government policies (and Western attempts to dominate in general) affect them adversely by fueling sectarian tension. Therefore, the role of the U.S. government (often seeking national or special interests rather than principles the U.S. purports to support) should be addressed by the overture….Use of the word “persecution” mischaracterizes the nature of the maltreatment of Christians in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East, and in many cases would be an unhelpful exaggeration.”)

Like the UN Human Rights Council whose help is sought by one of the approved resolutions, PCUSA is so obsessed with the sins of Israel that those of the rest of the world simply disappear from view, and action all out of proportion to the offense is taken in the name of “justice.” The anti-Semitism of the PCUSA is not the Mein Kampf or “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” type. Rather, it is the type that see the Jewish state as uniquely evil, uniquely responsible, and therefore uniquely deserving of denunciation and punishment among all the peoples of the world. And it is worthy of the anathema of Christians of good will everywhere.

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has wrapped up its work of spitting in the face of Israel and its supporters and placing a halo on the heads of Palestinians dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state. In my previous post, PCUSA: Considering the Demands of the Israel-Haters,” I detailed some of the resolutions the GA was considering. Turns out they not only considered, but approved of those demands:

Resolution 04-01: “On Reviewing General Assembly Policy Regarding the Two-State Solution in Israel Palestine”

Passed 482-88. PCUSA is now on its way to declaring in 2016 that it now has no opinion about whether Jews have a right to a national homeland free of persecution. One thing I failed to mention in the last post is that a report on the Israeli occupation of the West Bank is supposed to be made to the next General Assembly that should draw its information from “United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Council, the World Council of Churches, other corresponding ecumenical partners, and reliable human rights organizations.” Which is to say, from sources that have pre-determined that Israel is the source of all evil in the Middle East, if not in the world.

•04-02: “On Divestment from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions”

Instead of passing this, they substituted

04-04: “On Supporting Middle East Peacemaking”

Passed 310-303. This is the one that was changed from a prohibition of divestment to a mandate for it when the Middle East Issues committee resorted to Harry Reid tactics. It doesn’t matter that a change of four minds would have defeated this; majority rules, and PCUSA is now a part of the BDS movement, its protests to the contrary notwithstanding. That aligns it with a variety of far left and anti-Semitic organizations and media outlets. I hope they enjoy the company they are now keeping.

At some point, as a sop to opponents, the following item was added:

“[1.  Reaffirm Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign nation within secure and internationally recognized borders in accordance with the United Nations resolutions.]”

Not as a Jewish state, of course; only non-Jews (especially Muslims) are permitted states that reflect their character without qualm or protest.

04-09: “Resolution on Equal Rights for All Inhabitants of Israel and Palestine and on Conversations with Prophetic Voices”

Equal rights in the Holy Land are now officially supported, as long as the rights are those of Palestinians. Israelis–particularly those under daily rocket fire, those who live in fear of terrorism, those who have seen a political party dedicated to the destruction of their state and the driving of all Jews from their historic homeland join the Palestinian government, and those who have lost loved ones to the war crimes of those who deliberately target civilians–need not apply.

These actions will likely lead to the end of meaningful conversation between Jews and Presbyterians. Indeed, the Simon Weisenthal Center has already done so:

“We are severing all dialogue with PCUSA, because of a pattern of malicious behavior on the part of church administration,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Center, pointing to Zionism Unsettled, a 74-page document released in December and sold on PCUSA’s website. “This demonization of an entire nation and its supporters around the world is an outrage that makes further conversation with this church impossible. Zionism Unsettled does not merely attack Israeli policies, but calls the quest for a Jewish State racist and illegal. This invokes memories of the UN’s notorious ‘Zionism is racism’ resolution of 1974—which was repealed in 1991 – but this time PCUSA has substituted theological language to dismiss the Jewish people’s 3,500 year presence in and association with the Holy Land,” Cooper added. “The long-standing protocols of interfaith dialogue have always demanded that no partner attack the core beliefs of the other. This document, and the cynical response of church leaders to criticism of it from other Presbyterians, is a frontal assault on the central place of the Jewish State in Jewish life and thought,” the rabbi said.

In 2004, PCUSA became the first mainline denomination to vote for divestment from Israel. Strong opposition by church rank and file led to an overturning of that resolution in 2006. “While Israel enjoyed strong support from the ordinary worshipers and pastors of this church – including a large cadre of tireless workers for balance and fairness to all peoples of the Middle East – their wishes were frustrated by church leadership bent on taking the church in a different direction,” said Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the Center’s Director of Interfaith Affairs.

“After every defeat at a biennial General Assembly, the church administration raised the ante, building partnerships with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement that abandoned the very two-state solution that was the historic policy of the church. It gerrymandered key committee appointments, and tolerated overt anti-Semitism on church websites,” he added.

“We stayed in an abusive relationship too long. We will continue to love Presbyterians, but we will inform our community that PCUSA is a group that disrespects the Jewish People,” Rabbi Adlerstein concluded.

But then, I don’t imagine that will bother the PCUSA much.

Next Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 69 other followers