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:
- “Zionism is dividing humanity”–-Dieudonne
- Were Israel’s secret services behind the 2001 anthrax attacks?
- William Cook : The Do Nothing Peace Machine: Why Zionism Negates Peace
- Was 9/11 an Inside Job or a Mossad Job?
- Earth’s alpha predator: Zionist Mafia
- Israeli militarism predicated on 9/11 deception
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.