Presbyterianism


I got an email today from the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Office of Public Witness. It was about one of the most important foreign policy issues facing the United States today. That means it had to be about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or the ongoing protests against the authoritarian government of Venezuela, or the continuing civil war in Syria, or the threat of Iran to build nuclear weapons, right? Nope:

With just a few months remaining until Presbyterians gather in Detroit for the 221st General Assembly, the economic conditions for Palestinians living under occupation remain bleak. As Presbyterians we believe strongly in the right of safety, security, and economic opportunity for both Palestinians and Israelis and see the current economic conditions inhibiting a future peace agreement.

Click here to send a message to your members of Congress today!

One of the clearest examples of the continued depressed economy can be seen in the closure of Shuhada Street in the Palestinian city of Hebron. Once the bustling economic center of life in Hebron, a major Palestinian city, Shuhada Street is now effectively inaccessible to Palestinians. What was only supposed to be a temporary closure, following the 1994 massacre of 29 Muslims worshippers by Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein, has now become a nearly decades long reality. The closure of Shuhada Street to Palestinians, while Israeli settlers are free to use the road, continues despite an agreement between the PLO and Israeli government, brokered by the US in 1997, which called for the immediate reopening of the street.

The closure represents a grave hindrance to the right of access for Palestinians as well as a threat to peace and stability for both Israelis and Palestinians. The condition of Shuhada street represents a microcosm of the overall Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Please consider contacting your elected officials to encourage them to ensure that the U.S. brokered deal concerning Shuhada Street is implemented.

Yes, this is definitely what I’m writing my congressman about. I’m sure that with all the other inconsequential stuff going on in the world, he’s overlooked this world-shattering injustice that needs to be addressed by the U.S. Congress NOW!

For the record, I think the Israeli settlement policy incredibly misguided, and the settlement in Hebron–500 Jews, many of them hotheads with a propensity for violence, living amid 125,000 Arabs–especially stupid, and have said so for years. That being said, to elevate this item, one that the email admits is of almost 20 years standing, to one that deserves an “alert” to OPW subscribers is so inane as to provide yet another piece of evidence that PCUSA doesn’t care much about injustice anywhere in the rest of the world unless it’s committed by Jews.

Naming His Grace has pointed out something I didn’t know (yeah, what are the odds, right?). It seems that the comments on Presbyterian News Service articles are moderated. That means that no comments get on their site unless someone at PNS approves them for publication, meaning not that they approve of the content, but consider them fair contributions to discussion.

She then points to the article published January 21, in which the Israel Palestine Mission Network trumpeted their completely unofficial, wholly unconnected to PCUSA congregational study entitled Zionism Unsettled, a pernicious collection of half-truths, significant omissions, and outright lying slanders against Israel, Jews, and Judaism.

Now, for a sample of the fair-minded, unhateful, and reasonable contributions to the debate over the book:

Finally, a major Christian denomination that has the courage to stand up and address the major problem facing our generation and our world. I was raised Lutheran, but you now have a new convert! I’ll be looking for a local church to join in my area that supports your open discussion on the topic. (Peter Jalajas)

Russians invading Ukraine? Iranians developing nuclear weapons? Civil war in Syria? North Korean mass murder? Economic instability? Overwhelming debt around the world? Inconsequential next to the evil that is the existence of a Jewish state.

I applaud The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church for addressing this issue. Zionism is not just bad for the Palestinians, but also, for the rest of the world as well. The Christian Zionist on here who blindly supports the Jews and Israel, does so out of emotion through their religious devotion, not the truth. The Jews can do no wrong in their eyes, and anytime someone points out the fact that the Jews are mere humans, who are capable of having flaws, they call them anti-Semitic. The Talmud is Judaism’s holiest book (actually a collection of books). Its authority takes precedence over the Old Testament in Judaism, and it’s hatred against Gentiles, Christ, and Christians, knows no bounds. Wake up, all of you Christian Zionist! Learn the truth, and stop blindly supporting the evil known as Zionism! (Robert Bowling)

Kudos to PCUSA for standing up to the political correctness that so often stymies open discussion of Jewish supremacism. For too long Christian Zionists have gotten away with enforcing a taboo against any examination of Jewish wrongdoing, claiming instead a bogus requirement that Christians must always bless Jews and their actions, however awful those actions are. (Harry H)

This is good news. Finally a traditional Christian org in America stands up to the uber hypocritical “Jewish” Zionist power structure. Its about time. Fact is, Jewish Zionism is based in Judaism/Talmudism as an all encompassing outward expression of other Jewish controlled movements such as Marxism-Communism. Its end goal is a world Gov seated by the main Anti Christ. Zionism is Judaism and it is the so called “Jews” common law where as true Israelites (European/white/Christians) common law is Christian/Natural law. Both of these common laws show the difference between the DNA/spirit of Esau “Jews” and European/whites-Christians (Jacob-Israel/Judah). The so called Jews, “Israelis” bid for World Gov will happen but it is destined to be replaced by God’s people (Authentic Christians) when the true lord returns, exposing the false and planting HIS kingdom on their apostasy. (By the way- don’t even try and calling me “anti semitic”. I will post “Jewish” admissions to all I have said above, all day long”. 95% of the so called “Jews” don’t have natural links to the tribes of Israel. They are impostors (Rev 2 and 3) coming from Maternal links to Esau and Ashkenaz who are from Japeth, not Shem (Genesis 10:3). (Tyrone Parsons)

Bravo PCUSA: I can not wait to get my copy of Zionism Unsettled. Based on all reviews, including desperately distorted ones from some who share in the guilt. This is a vital need fulfilled. And PCUSA will not be the last. For too long Christian Zionist in American evangelical churches, including, Richard L. Land of the Southern Baptist convention, have blame the victim for every act of brutality against them, and getting away with it. But the movement to discover and expose what Occupation is, is rooted and growing in the traditional churches like the PCUSA, who know abut missions. Scripture is on their side. “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” Restated: Who would Jesus Bomb, or imprison for sixty years? (Charles Carlson, a peddler of Holocaust denial books.)

Zionism is anti-Christ. Ask the Jewish-Zionists. They aren’t interested in God’s and Jesus’s message of loving their neighbors. They stomp on their neighbors trying to get them to submit under Jewish supremacy. They steal their land by force of arms. Have you heard the racism and ethnic bigotry coming out of Jewish-Zionist leaders? It’s wicked. How can the Church not stand opposed to twisted, worldly Zionism? (Tom Usher)

Thank God PCUSA is restoring the church and seriously addressing the Jewish supremacism that drives hatred of others and a corrupt American foreign policy. They have no love for us or Christ. (A.H. Lindbergh)

The Jewish supremacists should take this report seriously. It shows that the church will not shill for their lies any more. (George Duke)

So in the land of Presbyterian journalism, this is the kind of stuff that is admissible as part of the debate over Middle East issues. Is it any wonder that people are fleeing the PCUSA in droves?

UPDATE: My friend Viola Larson, the writer of Naming His Grace, has updated her post on this subject, and it’s pertinent to the question of who’s responsible for this slop:

A friend sent me this information: “For several years now, all kinds of entities of the PCUSA have published stuff on the same web address that PNS uses. However, PNS has no responsibility for anything that is not clearly published by PNS itself. The article about Zionism Unsettled says it was published by The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). They are free to do what they want, including opening up the possibility for responses, without PNS doing the same thing for their articles, and they don’t need PNS permission for it.”

So it’s actually the IPMN, using the free space they get whenever they want it from PNS, that is actually responsible.

Apparently stung by all the criticism of its new Israel bash-fest Zionism Unsettled, the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the PCUSA has struck by with a self-congratulatory response to the critics:

“I am proud that the PC(USA) does not shy from controversial issues,” says Rev. Katherine Cunningham, moderator of IPMN and member of Presbytery of the Palisades in New Jersey. “The church confronts all the divisive issues of our wider society – including, for instance, attitudes toward homosexuality and same-sex marriage.”

Yes, and hasn’t that gone well?

“Zionism Unsettled takes a new approach to one of the most hotly-debated and intractable issues of our day – the historical and contemporary relationship between Israel and the Palestinians – by examining the ideology and theology that have shaped the conflict.”

The approach is isn’t new, of course–IPMN has been putting out bilge like this for years. It’s all the same stuff, over and over: Zionism is uniquely evil, Israel is uniquely evil, there’s no instance worth mentioning of Arab nations or terrorist group ever being beastly to Israel, all the blame resides on one side, and, oh, if you think others, RACIST!

In its new publication exploring the effects of Zionism on Israelis and Palestinians, IPMN draws inspiration from the PC(USA)’s stated commitment to justice issues. In 2012, the 220th General Assembly in Pittsburgh overwhelmingly passed a resolution to “recognize with joy and thanks to God the historic stance of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in pursuit of justice as a central mandate of our church, a mandate that calls us to uphold the need to be faithfully partisan in situations of injustice and to speak truth to power, wherever necessary as we pursue justice, without fear of retribution or the delay of deflection.”

To paraphrase the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, they keep using that word “justice.” I don’t think it means what they think it means.

Pauline Coffman, resident of Chicago Presbytery and one of several content editors of the book, explains the framework of the study guide. “On the one hand, Zionism Unsettled lifts up the tragic history of Jewish persecution that led many Jews to embrace Zionism as a necessity for Jewish self-preservation. At the same time, the book relates the less-well-known and also traumatic history of Palestinian displacement and loss that has occurred as a consequence of the establishment of a Jewish state in their midst.” Coffman continues, “An understanding of both people’s narratives is absolutely essential to understanding the contemporary struggle for rights and land.”

The book does indeed mention the history of Jewish persecution–not by Muslims, but whatever. That history is only mentioned in order to be denigrated as inadequate reason for Jews to have the temerity to seek a national homeland. The rest of Coffman’s statement is boilerplate that bears no resemblance to the actual tract, which offers no understanding of the Israeli or Jewish “narrative” at all, instead preferring to criticize the founding of Israel and the Zionist ideology on which it is based as “tribal,” “primitive,” and “dangerous,” even as it contends that Palestinians, unlike Jews, have a right to self-determination.

“We understand there are those who hold strong opinions that diverge from the multiplicity of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim perspectives presented in Zionism Unsettled,” says IPMN member Don Maclay, a resident of Philadelphia Presbytery. “We respect their right to disagree. We are also heartened by thoughtful, supportive reviews by Rabbi Brant Rosen and Mark Braverman.”

Yes, well, no far left Gentile critique of Israel would be complete without its Jewish fig leaves. Somehow, though, I think a review has a little less validity when its of a book in which your story is extensively, affirmatively quoted (Brant) or your writings are used extensively as source material (Braverman).

As for the “multiplicity of…perspectives” supposedly embodied in the tract, this is the kind of “diversity” that college campuses are increasingly fond of. There is only one perspective in this tract, which is why it is not a “study” but propaganda. It just happens to be that that perspective is shared by all of the Christians, Jews, and Muslims used as sources or quoted.

“Talking about emotionally-charged issues is difficult, but necessary,” observes Rev. Craig Hunter, a member of Grace Presbytery in Texas. “We hope that even as our interfaith relations with some Jews are challenged by disagreements over Israeli policy, all parties will be able to maintain a civil and respectful approach to those disagreements.”

Translation: Screw the Jews. We’ve got a political, ideological, and theological axe to grind, and they better not try to stand in the way!

Rev. Katherine Cunningham says, “In publishing Zionism Unsettled, we are upholding deeply-felt convictions and principles rooted in our faith. Our vision for interfaith relations is not based on self-censorship or avoidance of controversy, but a mutual capacity to recognize and transcend disagreement based on shared values. We invite civil and respectful dialogue among Christians, Jews, and Muslims.”

That may be what they invite, but it is not what they engage in.

Can’t end this without indulging a bit of that guilt-by-association stuff that we conservatives are so fond of. Check out the endorsements page, and who do we find in amongst the usual suspects? Why it’s James Wall, who is listed as a Contributing Editor for Christian Century, rather than identified by his latest gig, as Associate Editor and Featured Columnist for the anti-Semitic cesspool Veterans News Now, a sister publication of Veterans Today. Among the fifty “most read articles” this week on a web site that uses the good name of American veterans to hide its hate:

James Wall is the associate editor of a web site that puts out anti-Semitic stuff like this, and IPMN is proud to have his endorsement for Zionism Unsettled? Tells me all I need to know.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has a lot of problems, from declining membership and attendance to fleeing congregations to heresy run rampant in its seminaries and pulpits and the internal warfare on its own members that has resulted from the spread of false teaching and the need to protect it. By and large, those are internal concerns. What the rest of the Christian world should be concerned about is its growing embrace of anti-Semitism, a phenomenon recently highlighted by the publication of a so-called “congregational study resource” called Zionism Unsettled by the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN).

The IPMN–“mandated,” according to a recent press release, by the PCUSA General Assembly in 2004–has had its share of controversy. It has a disturbing habit of relying on the scribblings of known anti-Semitic writers and web sites, even having to shut down its Facebook page so as to try to scrub away its dirty laundry (it keeps popping up, over and over again, on their Twitter feed, however). Now, however, they decided to do a “greatest hits” collection of sorts, combining all of their various tropes into one handy package.

Let’s just say that reading Zionism Unsettled was right up there with plunging steak knives into my eyeballs as a fun way to spend an afternoon. Here are a few examples of why.

•One of the chief techniques used by IPMN is to simply ignore anything that might inconvenience the narrative. For instance, when dealing with the events of the so-called Nakba (“catastrophe”) that was the founding of Israel, they tell us that things got ugly in May of 1948:

As expected, war broke out between Jewish and Arab forces when Israel declared independence in May 1948. (p. 13)

Actually, what happened was that on May 15, the armies of Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and a token force from Saudi Arabia attacked Israel without provocation in an attempt to destroy the Jewish state in its cradle. The attack was accompanied by calls for the extermination, not just of the state, but of all Jews living in the Holy Land.

Another example is on the matter of refugees, where Zionism Unsettled says:

From December 1947 until the armistice between Israel and its Arab neighbors in 1949, this strategy of ethnic cleansing would force all the inhabitants from more than 500 Palestinian villages, totally and deliberately destroy the structures in 400 Palestinian villages, create 750,000 Palestinia refugees, kill most who resisted the dispossession of their lands, and homes, and prevent the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes after the cessation of hostilities. (p. 14)

How is this dishonest? Let us count the ways:

1) It fails to mention the Arab broadcasts that explicitly told Palestinians to leave or be treated as enemies. The Economist reported on October 2, “Of the 62,000 Arabs who formerly lived in Haifa not more than 5,000 or 6,000 remained. Various factors influenced their decision to seek safety in flight. There is but little doubt that the most potent of the factors were the announcements made over the air by the Higher Arab Executive, urging the Arabs to quit.. . . It was clearly intimated that those Arabs who remained in Haifa and accepted Jewish protection would be regarded as renegades.”

2) At least some of the destruction that the IPMN attributes solely to Israel was the result of fighting in and around Arab villages, making the invading Arab armies as responsible for it as the Israeli Defense Force.

3) The number of refugees is exaggerated–the real figure is much closer to half a million than three quarters, and in any event it is impossible to know what percentage of those who left the country did so out of fear of the Jews, out of fear of their Arab brethren, or out of obedience to the repeated broadcasts that called on them to do so.

4) Even before the declaration of independence, Arabs were leaving the country. The Lebanese daily Al-Telegraph, on September 6, 1948, quoted the secretary of the Arab High Council, Emil Ghory, saying “The flight of Arabs from the territory allotted by the UN for the Jewish state began immediately after the General Assembly decision [on partition] at the end of November 1947. This wave of emigration, which lasted several weeks, comprised some thirty thousand people, chiefly well-to-do-families.”

Yet another piece of dishonesty by omission is found in p. 14, where Zionism Unsettled says:

In the first decade of the life of the new state, the Jewish population almost doubled….Hundreds of thousands of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries flooded Israel to escape the actual violent blowback or fear of blowback as the region became inflamed at the perceived injustice of the enforced partition of Palestine, the creation of a Jewish state, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1947-48, and the Sinai War of 1956.

In fact, violence against Jews in the countries mentioned started before Israel’s independence, and even the partition, much less the creation of the refugee problem or the Sinai war. For example, in Libya, “The 2,000 year-old Jewish community of Libya, which numbered almost 60,000 by the 1940s, was the target of mass anti-Jewish violence in November 1945. In Tripoli alone, 120 Jews were massacred, over 500 wounded, 2,000 were made homeless, and synagogues were torched. There were more pogroms in January 1946, with 75 Jews massacred in Zanzur, and more than 100 murdered in other towns.” In all, over 875,000 Jews were expelled from various Arab countries, and over $13 billion in property and possessions expropriated. While the Palestinian population of both Israel and the West Bank has grown tremendously in the years since the establishment of the Jewish state, here’s one estimate of the size of the Jewish populations of the Arab nations that denounce the “racism” and “exclusivity” of Israel:

Algeria: less than 100
Egypt: less than 100
Iraq: 60
Libya: less than 100
Morocco: 7,000
Syria: 100

None of this is mentioned in Zionism Unsettled, and those are significant omissions from just two pages of this propaganda.

Perhaps the most ludicrous form of the technique of omission is in the vignette page entitled “Extremism and Intolerance In Israel” (p. 36). There’s a picture of a sticker in a house window in Hebron that says “Kahane Was Right!” (referring to Meir Kahane, the infamous racist rabbi who advocated the expulsion of all Arabs from Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza). There’s another picture from Hebron, this one of graffiti that says “Gas the Arabs.” These are presented as if they are typical of Israeli attitudes:

Racism and intolerance are in no way confined to Israel’s religious extremists and settlers. Many observers who care deeply about Israel [who are neither named nor cited–DF] express grave concern that a rising tide of racial prejudice and extremism is becoming normalized not only among religious Jews but also among political figures and private citizens within Israel proper.

That there is racism, prejudice, and hate for Arabs in Israel is hardly a surprise. Jews are no more immune to the failings of human beings, including their worst impulses, than any other people. That such people are sometimes loud, obnoxious, and listened to by a segment of the population is also no surprise. Such instances, no matter who spews them, are deserving of nothing but contempt and condemnation. What is surprising is that, in a “study guide” that presumes to speak of the problems of Israel and Palestine, there is no mention whatsoever of the daily demonization, dehumanization, and hate that is directed at Israel and Jews by Arab media, education, and political and religious leadership. The New York Times, not noted as a friend of Israel, recently offered a few examples:

Adolf Hitler is quoted on the Facebook pages of Palestinian Authority schools. A young girl appears on Palestinian television, describing Jews as “barbaric monkeys, wretched pigs” and the “murderers of Muhammad,” the Islamic prophet. Maps on the Facebook page of the Palestinian presidential guards do not show Israel. President Mahmoud Abbas himself embraced as “heroes” released Palestinian prisoners who killed Israelis.

•One of the primary goals of the tract is to delegitimize the idea of Israel as a Jewish state. Supposedly this is a “new idea” introduced into the diplomatic lexicon by Colin Powell in a 2001 speech. Zionism Unsettled claims:

Since the Powell speech, this insistence on explicit Palestinian recognition of a “Jewish state” has become almost routine, but it is relatively new language for negotiations and for the international community….This demand presents a major obstacle to peace because, just as Jews want a “right of return” to the land, so too do the millions of Palestinians who have languished in refugee camps for three generations. Non-Zionists point out that a “Jewish state” is anethnocracy, not a democracy. [Emphasis in original.]

What’s wrong with this? To begin with, it ignores that the original intention of the U.N. partition was to create an “Arab state” and a “Jewish state.” The idea was that Arabs would live in Israel, and Jews in Palestine, with guaranteed rights of full citizenship for minorities in both countries. The Arabs rejected that, of course, and sought to create yet another Arab state while destroying the Jewish one. The demand for Palestinian recognition of Israel as a “Jewish state” is nothing more than a demand for Palestinians to reject the exterminationist goals of terror groups like Hamas. For another thing, the reference to the Jewish state as an “ethnocracy” is laughable coming from people who have no apparent problem with the tribalism and political repression of the almost two dozen Arab states. The writers of this garbage should ask themselves, how many mosques are there in Israel, as opposed to synagogues in Saudi Arabia? How many Arabs sit in the Israel Knesset, as opposed to Jews in Iraq’s Parliament? How many Arab-language publications are there in Israel, as opposed to Hebrew-language publications in Libya? How many Arab voters are there in Israel as opposed to Jewish voters in Egypt? Oh, wait, I forgot–essentially all the Jews have been expelled from Syria, Iraq, and Egypt, and were never allowed in Saudi Arabia, while 20% of Israel’s population is Arab.

The persistent drumbeat for the Palestinian “right of return” (a prominent feature of the advocacy in Zionism Unsettled) is nothing more than a bid to change the demographic reality in Israel. Regardless of the motives of the advocates (which I’m sure are pure as the driven snow), the effect of deconstructing the Jewish “ethnocracy” would be to create yet another Arab-dominated state in which Jews would be allowed to live until such time as the Arab majority decided they were tired of having them around. Oddly enough, Zionism Unsettled does recognize that one of the primary reasons for Israel’s founding was to provide a haven to Jews in the midst of a world that has marginalized, mistreated, ghettoized, and killed them with brutal regularity for centuries, and yet still calls for the dismantling of that haven. What was that about motives, again?

•Through the use of emotionally charged language and hysterical charges, the IPMN seeks to demonize Israel in a way that bears little if any relationship to reality. Foremost among the examples of this is the use of the term “apartheid” (comparison is also made with Jim Crow segregation in the American South on p. 18). It’s a word that conjures up images of oppression, violence, and racism, and has nothing whatsoever to do with what Israel is doing. Let’s look at one example of its use in Zionism Unsettled:

[T]here is a growing consensus–except, notably, in the US and Israel–that the existing de facto one-state situation/solution is irreversible and that the Israeli form of apartheid (segregation and separate development) is becoming increasingly entrenched. (p. 23)

This is nonsensical on several levels, but it’s the use of the word “apartheid” that is especially objectionable. As I wrote once on The Reformed Pastor:

[T]here is virtually no comparison between the two situations. In South Africa, blacks objected to being banished to “independent” Bantustans; the Palestinians are desperate for a state of their own (if anything, it’s Hamas and their desire for a single, Judenrein Palestinian state that most resemble the Afrikaaners). In South Africa, it was the state that beat up on its own people; in the Holy Land, the Palestinians aren’t citizens of Israel, but would-be invaders from outside. In South Africa, blacks had no rights to speak of; in Israel, Palestinian Arabs who are citizens–about one-sixth of the population–have all the rights of Jewish citizens, including the right to vote, to be elected to the Knesset, to sit in the government, even to speak out in support of their non-Israeli brethren. In South Africa, the courts facilitated the brutal treatment of blacks; in Israel, the courts protect the rights of Palestinians, even to the point of ordering the government to change many of its policies over the years (it is the Israeli Supreme Court, for instance, not the powerless International Court of Justice, that got the government to make changes in the route the security fence takes, ordering it to avoid as much as possible infringing on Palestinian-owned lands, orchards, and farms).

Using the word “apartheid” in reference to Israel is nothing more than name-calling designed to provoke an emotional response, rather than a serious attempt to understand the situation. Worse, it deliberately poisons the well, and stirs animosity toward the Jewish state that has little if anything to do with what the word actually means.

•Most egregiously, Zionism Unsettled is meant to delegitimize Judaism in the eyes of Christians as the IPMN arrogates to itself the right to separate “real” Judaism from its Zionist-infected counterfeit.

In the section entitled “A Jewish Theology of Liberation,” we read this:

In his important book Justice and Only Justice, Canon Ateek, a Palestinian Israeli and 1948 refugee from his ancestral home in Beisan, Palestine (now northern Israel), identifies three ideological streams within the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament). First, the tribalist-nationalist-separatist tradition of the conquest of Canaan and and the establishment of Israelite kingship so that Israel could become a military power like surrounding nations; second, the Torah-oriented tradition of the Pharisees which evolved into Rabbinic Judaism after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E.; and third, the prophetic tradition that rejected the idea of a tribal god in favor of Yahweh who not only ruled over the world but would eventually redeem all humanity. Ateek writes:

What is quite clear from a Palestinian Christian point of view…is that the emergence of the Zionist movement in the twentieth century is a retrogression of the Jewish community into the history of its very distant past, with its most elementary and primitive forms of the concept of God. Zionism has succeeded in re-animating the nationalist tradition within Judaism. Its inspiration has been drawn not from the profound thoughts of the Hebrew Scriptures, but from those portions that betray a narrow and exclusive concept of a tribal god.

Leave aside Ateek’s approach to the Old Testament, which is essentially Marcionite (he tosses the parts that morally offend him, and deride them as a “lower” form of revelation from a Demiurge or “tribal god”). What Ateek does here is dress up in theological language the old idea that the Jews, alone among the world’s multitude of peoples, have no legitimate claim to the safety, security, and dignity that goes along with sovereignty. Keep in mind, of course, that Ateek and his fanboys at the IPMN are positively passionate about what they see as the Palestinian claim to a sovereign state (preferably one that would include all of Israel as well). Such things just aren’t for Jews, apparently.

Oh, and let’s not miss this little head-fake: “Zionism has succeeded in re-animating the nationalist tradition within Judaism.” Really? Here I thought that the reason for the re-emergence of the desire for a national home for the Jewish people came about because Gentiles–Christians and Muslims, Europeans and Turks and Arabs–kicked them from pillar to post, expelled them, turned them into dhimmis, periodically persecuted and robbed them when they needed a political diversion, or systematically exterminated them. Turns out it was all just a political/ideological/racist ploy on the part of those evil Zionists to displace the Palestinians. Who’d a thunk it?

What’s all this got to do with anti-Semitism? Let me suggest these connections:

1) The source of this tract is the IPMN. As mentioned above, this hate group doesn’t hesitate to traffic with anti-Semites and use material off of their web sites. They are also fond of using materials from people and sites that are so far left, and so uniquely and disproportionately hostile to Israel that they might as well fall into the same category. Among those who feature in the text and endnotes are Ilan Pappe, Paul Findley, Rashid Khalidi, Max Blumenthal, I.F. Stone, Naim Ateek, Neve Gordon, Edward Said, Jonathan Cook, Jewish Voice for Peace,Mondoweiss.netElectronic IntifadaTruthout.orgAl Jazeera, and Occupied Palestine.

2) By failing to present anything that even remotely resembles a balanced picture, the IPMN has offered a Manichean view of the conflict that casts Israel as devil and Palestinians as saints. One would never know from this propaganda that Arabs had ever treated Jews as anything other than full and equal residents of the region, living side-by-side in harmony, until the evil Jews decided to get all nationalistic and start treating the Arabs as sub-human, at which point the latter naturally took offense and defended themselves. The history of dhimmitude under Muslim rule, the periodic outbreaks of official or mob violence, the invasion of Israel in 1948, the planned invasion of 1967, the surprise attack of 1973, the use of terrorism against Israel’s civilian population by terror organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah–most of these are entirely absent, and the rest make nothing more than cameo appearances in Zionism Unsettled.

3) Granted that the IPMN is a special interest group, there is never even the slightest hint that things in the rest of the Arab world are anything but peachy, while Israel is regularly compared with apartheid South Africa and even Nazi Germany (see the section entitled “A Palestinian Muslim Experience with Zionism,” which alludes to the analogy, and has an extended discussion of “ethnic cleansing,” something the Israel must be really bad at, given that there are so many Palestinian citizens of Israel, much less the West Bank or Gaza). One would think that in a catalog of Palestinian suffering, there might be some mention of the failures of their Arab brethren–for instance, their refusal to take in and naturalize any of the refugees from 1948 or their descendants, or their repeated military failures that have hardened Israel’s resolve to protect itself, or their treatment of Palestinians as second-class citizens (Kuwait, Jordan, and others have done this for years). But no. Once again, it is the Jewish state that is uniquely evil, uniquely violent, uniquely prejudiced, and that is practically the very definition of anti-Semitism.

Zionism Unsettled has been getting a lot of attention from both Jewish critics and Christian supporters of Israel. So far the PCUSA, however, has essentially turned a blind eye to the cancer in its midst. A search of the PCUSA web site got only two hits–one for press release from IPMN blowing its own horn, and another from PCUSA News Service in which the head of the denomination’s mission agency, in which the IPMN is housed, said this:

“Our church has a long history of engaging many points of view when it comes to dialogue on critical issues facing the world around us — it’s who we are, part of our DNA,” said Linda Valentine, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “There are likely as many differing opinions as there are Presbyterians — and, like many denominations, we don’t always agree.”

“There are myriad voices within congregations, and some would like to see the church go beyond that stance,” added Valentine. “But we remain guided by the policies of the General Assembly, seeking peace for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

The news item also propounds the fiction that the IPMN–a creation of the church’s General Assembly–is “independent,” and “speaks to the church and not for the church,” a meaningless distinction in terms of the message that it sends to the world. That message is this: the PCUSA is perfectly comfortable with one of its constituent groups making repeated forays into the swamps of falsehood, bigotry, and hate. It is a scandal for the denomination, and one that this summer’s General Assembly would be wise to address.

The 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is in the books, and I’ve got to say its been an eventful week. It started off looking like it was going to be a disaster for evangelicals, supporters of traditional marriage, and supporters of Israel, but in the end the lemmings managed for once to step away from the edge of the cliff.

First, on traditional marriage: the good news is that the Assembly refused, by a 52%-48% margin, to change the way marriage is defined and practiced in the PCUSA. “One man and one woman” remains the standard. It continues to be the case that those who perform ceremonies that are represented as solemnizing marriages will be in violation of their ordination vows and subject to presbyterial discipline (though the latter is very much a hit-or-miss proposition).

The bad news is that for the next couple of years, the denomination will engage in a “season of study and prayer,” which will essentially mean people continuing to shout at one another, the Louisville headquarters putting together propaganda for gay marriage, and more evangelicals leaving because they know the issue is going to come back at them relentlessly every other year. In addition, as more and more presbyteries decide that it goes against the local ideology, or because they can’t afford it, or simply because it’s too much trouble, there will be fewer and fewer judicatories that will take the prohibition on same-sex marriage rites seriously. That, in turn, will speed up the exit of evangelicals as they see the problem is no longer just with the national church, but with their next-town-over neighbors, and the refusal of their presbytery to do anything about it. I don’t know whether the tipping point will come in the next Assembly (I thought it would be this one, and was obviously wrong), but it will come. For now, the lemmings stand at the edge and look over, and contemplate what it would be like to take that last step.

On another homosexuality-related matter, the Assembly revisited the subject of ordination of sexually active gays, and refused to send to the presbyteries a constitutional amendment that would have restored the status quo ante that existed before the “fidelity in marriage, chastity in singleness” requirement was deleted last year. In a discussion so ridiculous that one doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry, a proposal to add the phrase “repentance of sin and diligent use of the means of grace” to the qualifications and manner of life expected of ordained persons turned out to be very controversial. James Berkley of the Layman Online reports on the discussion:

One teaching elder dramatically called the introduction of repentance “redundant, unnecessary, and possibly confusing.”

To that, teaching elder Pat Thompson from Central Washington Presbytery asked questions he had asked in committee. “Why wouldn’t we want the phrase ‘repentance of sin’ or the use of ‘means of grace’?” he asked incredulously. “What is wrong with the repentance of sin? If you are against the repentance of sin, then vote against it. If you’re against Jesus dying on the cross, then vote against it.”

In the end only 46% of the commissioners thought calling for a life of repentance on the part of the ordained was “redundant, unnecessary, and possibly confusing.” They did decide, however, to pass a resolution that declared, “We decline to take an action that would have the effect of imposing on the whole Presbyterian Church (USA) one interpretation of Scripture in this matter” of homosexual behavior. Berkley said that this amounted to “declar[ing] formally that Scripture is too confusing, too subject to varied interpretations to unite around to decide matters of same-sex sexual morality.”

The other matter that was especially controversial had to do with Israel. The Israel Palestine Mission Network and its various non-Presbyterian, non-Christian, and far-left allies sought to enlist the PCUSA in their single-minded crusade to boycott and divest from companies doing business in Israel, as a way of indicating their belief that Israel is the focus of evil in the world. (No similar efforts were made with regard to Syria, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, China, Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran, or any of the other murderous and totalitarian regimes that blight our planet. Israel alone is apparently worthy of being so condemned and treated.) After tortured debate that included a full-court press on the General Assembly Twitter feed (which got so bad that some pro-divestment commissioners were calling on the activists to knock it off), the Assembly finally decided by a 30 vote margin to not authorize divestment, but rather to support investment in the Palestinian territories. One commissioner memorably complained about “parliamentary sleight of hand,” simply because her side lost. As it turned out, she was engaged in a whopping piece of projection.

She and her allies tried every parliamentary trick in the book to bring divestment back for another vote. They tried to amend other resolutions to tack it on, they tried to claim they’d been denied a fair vote, one even claimed that she’d voted the wrong way in order to get the divestment resolution reconsidered (there was no way for her to prove this claim, since individual votes aren’t recorded, but the moderator allowed to to make the motion anyway–it lost, in part because of people getting frustrated with the tactics of the activists).

The activists also tried–again–to get the Assembly on record as believing that the Israeli occupation constitutes “apartheid.” This is a claim that has no relationship to reality–one commissioner, who described himself as a “fifth generation South African,” said so, not that it mattered to the True Believers–but is very important for those looking to demonize Israel, in the same way that certain segments of American society find that the most effective way to ostracize someone they don’t like is to call them a racist. Despite the fact that the Israel Palestine Mission Network and at least some of its allies have no problem associating with Holocaust deniers and other anti-Semites, they are fanatical is trying to label Israel “racist.” They failed, badly.

In the end, the anti-Israel forces had to settle for a meaningless boycott of Israeli companies using products made in the settlements or using resources found on Palestinian lands (even when willingly sold to those companies by Palestinians themselves). It’s meaningless because 1) a year from now fewer than 1 in 100 Presbyterians will know anything about it; 2) many who do know will not participate; and 3) many don’t even have access to the products in question. So what it amounts to is that the activists, who are already boycotting, will continue to do so, and a handful of others may join them. The practical effect: zero. But that’s not what this is about, of course. It’s being able to say, “see, even the PCUSA thinks the Israelis are evil, rotten, racist no-goodniks!” I’ll let you judge whether they succeeded in that or not.

So there you have it: the PCUSA stays on the edge of the cliff, small pieces of it continuing to break off underneath its feet. It will have another opportunity, two years from now, to decide whether to step back from the crumbling precipice, or to boldly jump over the side. I know what my money will be on, even if I hope I’ll be wrong again.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly has just begun the debate over gay marriage. I’ll be live blogging the debate (which you can watch for yourself here), and let you know whether PCUSA is ready to head over the cliff.

UPDATE: The moderator is extolling the Civil Union and Marriage Committee’s ability to “be divided without being divisive.” Whoopee.

UPDATE: First recommendation is to call denomination to “a season of prayer and study” on Christian marriage. The second recommendation is to go ahead and change the Directory on Worship to essentially approve of the use of same sex blessings and marriage liturgies in the PCUSA. Lord save us from irrational compromisers.

UPDATE: First item to be dealt with is Resolution 13-04, which would change PCUSA worship to allow same sex marriage. That, of course, is the primary action. The other item is a sop to evangelicals, and essentially meaningless, except as a way of facilitating denominational propaganda.

UPDATE: Another member of the committee is presenting the minority report, which is to leave things as they are. He makes the point that study and listening is what are needed, not legislation that will do nothing but explode infighting.

UPDATE: A commissioner is asking for a point of order that contends that Res. 13-04 conflicts with the current PCUSA Constitution, and specifically its confessions. Advisory Committee on Constitution responds by separating Book of Confessions from PCUSA government, meaning confessions can be ignored in order to force change through. In other words, PCUSA can ignore its statements of belief at will. ACA guy ends by tossing it back to the leadership, which rules against point of order. The ruling is then appealed to the full GA. Debate follows. So essentially here’s what the Assembly is voting on: to uphold the moderator’s ruling that the Book of Confessions can be ignored as the Assembly desires in order to change polity, even if such changes conflict with the uniform teaching of the Confessions. The vote is to uphold moderator’s ruling by 70-30%.

UPDATE: There’s now a move to limit debate. I don’t know what the motives of the commissioners are, but this is a standard mainline leadership procedure–wait until late in the week of a denominational meeting, in order to limit debate on the most important issues before the body, rather than dealing with the most important or controversial ones first. They get away with it time after time. They did so again, by 344-300.

UPDATE: They have now moved on to main debate, which begins with the question of whether to substitute the minority report that leaves the status quo in place. The debate is about what you’d expect: advocates of the minority report offering dire predictions about the future of the denomination, as well as opposition to same sex marriage; opponents asking that proponents of same sex marriage be allowed to “live into their calling,” and citing individual situations that are supposed to justify institutional change. Director of World Mission offered information to the effect that of almost 100 “mission partners,” 40 said OK, 35 indicated that changes in definition of Christian marriage would damage relationships, 6 would make public statements against such a move, while 17 said they would have to break relationships. (If I were guessing, I’d say that most of the “yeas” were in Europe and North America.)  A Korean pastor in California sought to reinforce this message. And then the feed from Pittsburgh cut out. More shortly.

UPDATE: Feed back. Apparently while I was away, a lesbian Young Adult Advisory Delegate emoted. Twitter feed goes wild. Yawn. A teaching elder from New York, an “out lesbian,” essentially says it doesn’t matter what the GA does; she has done and will continue to do it anyway.

UPDATE: After a minute of silence in which commissioners were invited to listen to see if the Holy Spirit will contradict Himself regarding the nature of Christian marriage revealed in Scripture, they are now going into small groups to share what they “heard.” We will soon find out if God has indeed changed His mind because some judges and state legislatures in the United States have persuaded Him to Do The Right Thing. I appreciate the desire to be prayerful in business sessions, but there is no point to praying for discernment about this–the truth is already out there, and does not have to be sought, as if God has been trying make up His mind about this since the Stonewall Riots made Him notice that maybe He’s been wrong all these years.

UPDATE: Debate has ended on whether to substitute the minority report. Young Adult Advisory Delegates (whose votes are only “advisory,” and thus don’t count for the actual action) voted 28-105 no, Theological Students Advisory Delegates voted 1-17 no. Tells you a lot about the future leadership of the denomination, no? Anyway, here’s the vote that counts:  Anyway, here’s the vote that counts: 323-346-3. The minority report is defeated.

UPDATE: There is a second minority report. This one reaffirms the current definition, and does so via what’s called an “Authoritative Interpretation” of the <i>Book of Order</i>, which would state in unambiguous language exactly what the definition of marriage is. Given the vote on the previous item, I don’t see this one passes, but they’ll debate it nonetheless. At this point, my suspicion is that the PCUSA is about to throw itself headlong over a cliff. They’re in recess for five minutes. Back shortly.

UPDATE: Debate now on substituting second minority report. Began with the Ecumenical Advisory Delegate from the Presbyterian Church of Guatemala, who suggested that if the Assembly cares about its ecumenical partners, it will actually listen to them and consider their opposition to re-defining Christian marriage. A later commissioner basically told the Guatemalan delegate to pound salt, since other partners think same-sex marriage is hunky-dory. Commissioner says adoption of minority report will “only continue intimidation and bullying” of homosexuals in the PCUSA. Thanks for that. A theological student from South Louisiana claims that he’s a “conservative,” but that he stands for “social justice,” and redefining marriage. Right. So here’s the vote on this possible substitution: 266-397-2, the substitution being defeated.

UPDATE: So now they go to the original motion from the committee, which will change the understanding of marriage embodied in the Directory of Worship. This debate also went essentially the way you would expect–lots of “shellfish” arguments, lots of Scripture quoted, not all of it helpfully, worries about the future of the church, recitations of personal anecdotes, etc. To cut to the chase, here’s the vote: 308-338-2. They backed away from the cliff!

I missed this yesterday, but it seems Gradye Parsons, the Stated Clerk (highest executive official) in the Presbyterian Church (USA) took to the pages of the Washington Post on Wednesday to try to influence his General Assembly to support the divestment resolutions. He wrote:

After initially identifying five corporations involved in the above practices and six years of corporate engagement and dialogue, the MRTI has recommended divesting from three of the companies that we believe profit from non-peaceful activities – Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s investing agencies hold stock in companies that do business in Israel and Palestine, including for example Intel, Oracle, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, IBM, Microsoft, McDonald’s and American Express. The MRTI’s dialogue has been focused, as the General Assembly has repeatedly directed, on companies it feels are engaged, in particular, in roadblocks to peace, profiting from non-peaceful pursuits in Israel-Palestine. Therefore, the General Assembly is not, nor has it ever been, asked to divest from all companies doing business in Israel and/or Palestine.

The recommendation to divest comes out of a strong faithfulness to the principles of socially responsible investing and a deep commitment to peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians alike.

So in the PCUSA, the chief executive is also a policy-maker, who does not just seek to carry out the directives of the denomination’s highest policy-making body, the General Assembly, but seeks to get the GA to do what he wants it to do. Pity they didn’t listen to you and your buddies at the Israel Palestine Mission Network, eh, Gradye?

The PCUSA messed me up yesterday. My intention was to live blog the debate over the Middle East resolution on divestment and boycott, and they kept pushing them back so that I had to miss them. (I was out all evening.) Well, this morning it appears they’ve given my a second chance.

Last night, by a vote of 333-331-2, the General Assembly voted to substitute a positive alternative to invest in Palestine for the original motion to divest from Israel. The Assembly then voted by over 55% to pass that. This morning, claiming that she’d pushed the wrong button on the first vote, a commissioner asked to reconsider the whole thing. That’s what they’re doing now, so I’ll give it to you as it happens. Then they’ll be considering the other Middle East resolutions, and I’ll have them as well.

UPDATE: 62% voted not to reconsider last night’s action. So the PCUSA has avoided falling off the cliff on divestment. But that doesn’t mean that the anti-Israel forces are done. A commissioner immediately took the microphone to make a speech asking commissioner to stand in silence “against oppression,” etc. The usual stuff.

UPDATE: The chair of the MIddle East committee has proposed that all of the pro-divestment resolutions that were going to be placed before the Assembly be answered by the action previously taken. The first response from the floor was a motion to have the Assembly take up each of those resolutions separately. The effect of that action, if approved, would be to leave the Assembly either wasting a lot of time on stuff that will inevitably be defeated, or in hopeless contradiction to itself if any of them are passed. Gotta love it. The Assembly then voted on the motion, and voted not to by 15%-85%. I suspect even some pro-divestment folks are getting tired of the relentless inability of their colleagues to accept that they’ve lost.

UPDATE: A great example of that inability. A commissioner from the DC area accused…someone…of “parliamentary sleight of hand” because the Assembly voted to substitute a minority for a majority report. Can you say, “sore loser”? I know you can.

UPDATE: Pathetic. Now the same commissioner (a pastor, no less) who claimed she mis-voted last night gets up and says she doesn’t know much about these issues, but that the Assembly should “trust the committee” and take up and pass each (pro-divestment) resolution that was passed in committee individually. These people have no shame.

UPDATE: So now we have the vote on whether to answer the divestment resolutions with last night’s action. Approval given by 75%.

UPDATE: The Assembly is now considering a resolution to boycott Ahava Labs and Hadiklaim date growers, as well as any other Israeli companies that use products made or grown on the Palestinian territories, particularly by settler communities. One commissioner tried to amend this to bring the divestment issue back in, and got booed (as well as ruled out of order) for her trouble. On this resolution, the vote is 457-130-3. A meaningless action (how many Presbyterians will even hear about this, much less follow through, much less have access to the products in question?) has now allowed the GA to say it’s taken the side of the angels. Good for them.

UPDATE: The Assembly is now taking up the resolution to label Israel an “apartheid state.” This didn’t even pass the committee, which recommended disapproval. An ecumenical delegate from Lebanon claims to speak for all 15 million Arab Christians in favor of the apartheid designation. She also claims that they are following the Assembly and that they are terribly disappointed at the divestment votes. It must be nice to be able to read so many minds at so much distance so quickly. Another commissioner says he comes from the “moderate middle” of the PCUSA, but that the PCUSA must “speak the truth to a friend.” Some moderate, huh? A pastor who is from South Africa assures the Assembly that he knows apartheid, and the situation in the territories ain’t it. This wrapped up by defeating the effort to defame Israel by a vote of 463-175-2.

UPDATE: One final item had to do with Syria, specifically a call to pray, to ask the U.S. government to support negotiations, and to refrain from military action, while seeking UN non-military intervention to bring about a cessation of violence. Interestingly enough, this one included no specific condemnation of the Syrian government for slaughtering civilians–that is reserved for Israel. This one passed overwhelmingly and without debate.

That wraps up the Middle East issues debate. Supporters of Israel won all the way around, those seeking to single out Israel as uniquely evil and worthy of Presbyterian attention lost and showed themselves sore losers, and Jewish-Presbyterian relations were permitted to continue without break for another couple of years.

Oops, they aren’t done. The sore losers have moved to have the denomination’s Board of Pensions to come up with a “relief of conscience” program that will allow anti-Israel advocates to sleep at night knowing that some of their money is going to Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard. BoP will have two years to come up with such a balm. This one passed without debate 355-257-16. A representative of the BoP, for some reason, waited until after the vote to inform the Assembly that because of the way the Board works, it’s impossible to put the proposal into effect. The Moderator then asked the BoP to try to find a way to do the impossible. And then they moved on to worship.

Not wanting to be accused of dealing only with the weighty issues of the day, the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly has decided that corporal punishment is evil, and should be disapproved of by all right-thinking Presbyterians. Seriously. This was just passed by a vote of 334-306-9:

1. The Presbyterian Church (USA)

a. encourages its members to adopt discipline methods at home, in schools, pediatric facilities, and institutions (e.g. hospitals, orphanages, clinics, state institutions) and child-care facilities that do not include corporal punishment of children, and

b. encourages congregations to offer opportunities for dialogue and education on effective discipline of children.

2. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) calls upon all states to enact licensing laws prohibiting corporal punishment in schools and day and residential childcare facilities.

You are duly advised–no spanking!

Having settled this earth-shaking matter, the General Assembly is now going to go to Middle East affairs. Go figure.

As one of the “ecumenical greeters” at the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly this morning, Rabbi Gil Rosenthal of the National Council of Synagogues took the opportunity to warn the Presbys that they were endangering ecumenical relationships if they plunged ahead on divestment. The Layman Online reports:

“It will embattle Israel and embolden those who would like to delegitimize it and destroy it,” Rosenthal said, adding, “Make no mistake that is the goal of many in that region,” referring to a passage from the Hamas Charter that states, “We want to destroy the Zionist entity.”

He could also have been speaking of the PCUSA’s Israel Palestine Mission Network, which has the same goal.

Rosenthal said that, like Presbyterians, there are many things that both unite and divide Jews. However, he added, that the vast majority share a “devotion to and love for the state of Israel and concern for its safety” in a dangerous time. He also added that most Jews favor a two-state option for Israel and Palestine.

Most Jews do. Not the ones that the GA’s Middle East Committee has been listening to, and that the denominational leadership support, but most. The latter have an almost pathological hatred of the Jewish state, and have been doing everything in their power to get the General Assembly to validate their hate, as Viola Larson documents in her blog post “The 220th GA’s Middle East and Peacemaking Issues committee and too many controls” this morning.

Rather than being the only mainline church to support divestment, Rosenthal instead encouraged the PCUSA to “encourage both parties to come to the table and work hard.”

“People who don’t speak to one another, do unspeakable things to one another,” he said.

Rosenthal urged commissioners to follow Isaiah 1:18 as the divestment overture comes to the floor: “Come now and let us reason together.”

“I fear sincerely that divestment would cast a pall and fracture relationships — perhaps irreparably [between Jews and the PCUSA],” Rosenthal warned.

“Do not undo all we have accomplished so beautifully together,” he added.

One tweeter, in response to Rabbi Rosenthal, wrote, “Can scarcely believe the disrespectful use of an interfaith greeting to lobby on an issue pending in today’s business.” Yeah, that really was rude of him. How dare he address the single biggest issue threatening to fracture Jewish-PCUSA relations! He should have done in the committee meeting, like all the anti-Israel activists, and on the #ga220 Twitter feed, which has nearly as many anti-Israel tweets on it as it does stuff about the Assembly. How dare he speak truth to power in a setting where the power actually has to listen to him!

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