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.

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.

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