Presbyterianism


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.

Sorry I haven’t been posting. In part it’s from being on vacation for two weeks, partly catching up from doing so, and partly getting ready to go to the EPC General Assembly in Knoxville. I’ll have more about the EPC soon, but there’s another Presbyterian denomination meeting this week, and that means there’s evil afoot.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is meeting this week in Detroit–a brilliant metaphor for the state of the denomination, which is also being depopulated–and there are two primary issues that have captured the attention of liberal activists. One is the attempt to commit institutional, theological, and intellectual suicide by finishing the capitulation to the gay lobby. (More on that to come.) The other is the attempt by misguided liberals, Palestinian sympathizers, and organized anti-Semites in the Israel Palestine Mission Network (along with their outside allies in the political far left) to further demonize Israel. This latter move will have no effect in the real world–it’s hard to believe that Benjamin Netanyahu is laying awake at night wonderingwhat will the Presbyterians do?–but it does have an undoubted impact on relations between Jews and Christians.

So far, the General Assembly has not taken up the resolutions sent to them by the Middle East Issues committee, but that committee has completed its work. Among its products soon to be voted on:

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

Anti-Israel activists have been fighting hard for this one. One of their fondest wishes is to reverse PCUSA support for the two-state solution, because they know that a unitary state in the Holy Land will mean Palestinian control and the mass expulsion of Jews. Passage of this one will be an indication that PCUSA has been essentially captured by the anti-Jew wing of Protestant liberalism.

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

These three companies (along with SodaStream, an Israeli company that has built facilities in the West Bank and seeks to bring Jews and Arabs together rather than driving them apart) have long been the bête noires of the anti-Israel left. Because no one on the left has any idea how real-world economics works, they think that the PCUSA selling its holdings will actually have some kind of effect on company policies. It won’t. But it will make activists feel like they’ve struck a mighty blow against Zionism.

•04-04: “On Supporting Middle East Peacemaking”

This one is straight out of the Harry Reid School of Legislative Sausage-Making. A resolution from the Presbytery of New Covenant that originally overtured the GA to

Reject any proposed divestment and economic sanctions against the state of Israel or any application of the PC(USA)’s corporate engagement policies toward such ends

now reads

Instruct the Presbyterian Foundation and the Board of Pensions of the PC(U.S.A.), to divest from Caterpillar, Inc., Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions, in accord with our church’s decades-long socially responsible investment (SRI) history, and not to reinvest in these companies until the Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee of the PC(USA) is fully satisfied that product sales and services by these companies are no longer in conflict with our church investment policy. This action on divestment does not mean an alignment with the overall strategy of the global BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) movement.

So much for authorial intent. That last sentence is pure boilerplate meant to fool the rubes. Divestment by PCUSA does indeed align it firmly with the BDS (also known as IDS, for Israel Derangement Syndrome) movement, with all the anti-Semitic baggage carried around by that particular entity.

One other interesting thing about this overture. It also contradicts 04-01 by stating that General Assembly:

Declare its commitment to a [negotiated] two-state solution [(two states for two peoples)] in which a secure and universally recognized State of Israel lives alongside a free, viable, and secure state for the Palestinian people.

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

This one demonstrates just how one-sided and dishonest the whole discussion has become in the PCUSA. It reads in part:

Despite decades of General Assembly and other international support for the freedom and self-determination of the Palestinian people, yet recognizing that the right to vote and personal freedoms have been denied or limited for most Palestinians under occupation and within Israel, the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy recommends that the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approve the following measures (a) to support equal rights and unblocked economic development for all inhabitants of Israel and the occupied territories including Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, and (b) to support the open and faithful discussion of this need for equal rights and legal standing within congregational and other forums:

A. Regarding the provision of equal rights, the General Assembly supports:
•1. The establishment and protection of equal human rights for all inhabitants of Israel including:
•the establishment and protection of equal human rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, giving them parity with “Jewish Nationals;”
•freedom of travel and worship, including legal protection for non-Jewish sites;
•full protection of property rights without penalty for absence from Israel for business, education, family, or personal reasons;
•unhindered opportunities for economic development; and
•benefit from U.S. of financial aid without identity-based discrimination or exclusion.
2. The establishment and protection of equal human rights for all inhabitants of the occupied territories including Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza including:
•fair due process for all Palestinian inhabitants of the occupied territories who are arrested, convicted, and imprisoned either by the Israeli Defense Force or the Palestinian Authority;
•the ability to marry residents of other Palestinian areas without losing residency;
•special care in protecting the human rights of children;
•freedom of travel and worship;
•full protection of property rights, including freedom from arbitrary or unjust home demolitions;
•unhindered opportunities for economic development, including full access to international economic aid without identity-based discrimination; and
•access to tax revenues illegally sequestered.

Claiming that “Palestinians” (also known as “Israeli citizens”) have been denied the “right to vote and personal freedoms” in Israel proper is simply a lie (if they are talking about non-Israeli Palestinians, then they obviously have no concept of what citizenship is about). Regarding the rest of these demands–many of which are essentially demands that Israel give up any leverage it might have with the Palestinian Authority in any negotiations–do you notice what is missing? In this call for “equal rights,” there is nothing said about the right of Israelis, including Israeli Arabs, to any kind of security. That Israelis live under the daily threat of rocket and mortar attacks is of no concern to these prophets of equal rights. That Israel has a right to self-defense, including the raising of barriers to terrorism, is of no account. The protection of Jewish holy sites, subject to regular desecration in the West Bank, never occurs to them. In the minds of the Israel-haters, there is only one aggrieved party in this conflict, only one aggressor, only one scapegoat to be scourged. To claim they are interested in “equal rights” is as plausible coming from them as it would have been coming from U.S. senator and Klansman Theodore Bilbo (D-Mississippi) in the 1930s.

One other thing about this resolution, which passed the committee 61-4. It originally included this laughable piece of tripe:

Recommends the inclusion of a full range of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian viewpoints in conversations, including the increasing number of prophetic voices committed to nonviolence and equal rights such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, Kairos Palestine U. S., Friends of Sabeel North America, Muslims for Progressive Values, and coalitions like the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation;

The list of organizations–a laundry list of far left and Israel-hating groups–was later removed. There’s good reason for that: these groups not only are not excluded from the “conversation,” but in fact completely dominate it. Viola Larson of Naming His Grace offers this eyewitness account of the travesty that this committee–whose original chairman was removed because the leadership worried that he’d be even-handed–embodies:

Today forty chairs were set up for resource people such as Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment and the Presbyterian Foundation. The back side of the room was filled with people from Jewish Voices for Peace, the people who made personal calls to commissioners [in violation of established practice–DF]. And everywhere one looked were resource people [i.e., denominational bureaucrats-DF] moving about the room.

The committee voted to put aside 04-08 and to take up 04-04, an item which reinforces the Presbyterian policy of a two state solution for Israel and Palestine, and speaks of positive investment, disallowing divestment. Immediately after voting to do this a commissioner made a motion that number two in item 04-04 be changed from saying, “Reject any proposed divestment and economic sanctions against the state of Israel or any application of the PC(USA)’s corporate engagement policies toward such end”  to a call for divestment.

And just after this happened, which of course moved the committee toward the coming big debate on divestment, past moderator Rick Ufford-Chase entered the room and with a few nods and conversations with various people controlling the committee, as well as using the rights of a moderator, spoke at length about the importance of divestment. And then again the various organizations which are controlling this committee asked a pastor from South Africa to speak; it was almost a sermon on divestment. Since there was some protest about the speaker from South Africa, the committee voted for him after he was announced.

In a sense the commissioners are not debating this at all, instead an army of resource people are giving a monologue to the committee.

However one commissioner complained that they were not hearing the other side. And after a break another commissioner asked if John Wimberly of Presbyterians For Middle East Peace could speak. Again the committee voted and it was allowed. But he was only given three minutes.

Jim Berkley, formerly of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and also in attendance, estimated in the comments that the ration of anti- to pro-Israel discussion was on the order of 10:1.

Now the General Assembly is in the hot seat. Will it ratify the agenda of the Israel-haters? I’ll let you know.


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Occasionally, something comes out of the mainline churches that is so wrong, so delusional, so bizarre, so incomprehensible, that it makes one wonder whether hallucinogenic drugs are involved. Such is the statement that the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PCUSA), which had this response to a resolution submitted for this summer’s General Assembly that would address the growing persecution of Christians:

The Church is called to prayer for those who suffer due to their faith. The Presbyterian Mission Agency reminds commissioners and advisory delegates the suffering of the church in the world is not only due to “persecution”, but there are many factors involved. These include geopolitical and economic factors. The General Assembly should consider all the factors that result in and contribute to sectarian violence. Use of the word “persecuted” mischaracterizes the nature of the maltreatment of Christians in the world, and in many cases would be an unhelpful exaggeration. [Emphasis added.]

There are no words for how loathsome that statement is. Anathema!

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.

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