The rotting corpse of the Presbyterian Church got another nail in its coffin with the vote on Friday at its general convention to divest from companies doing business with Israel. It’s bad enough that the Church is hemorrhaging members faster than Donald Sterling is hemorrhaging Los Angeles Clippers fans. Now the Church demonstrates that it has no moral compass and suffers from a healthy does of “underdogma” whereby right and wrong are determined not by biblical mandate or moral teaching but by whomever is the weaker party.
The Presbyterians supposedly believe in the Bible. I say supposedly because I’m confused by their general approach to morality, which seems to follow a show of hands every year at their general conference.
But be that as it may, when it comes to murder the Bible is clear. It’s forbidden. It’s right there in the Ten Commandments. You can’t dismember people because you feel aggrieved. You can’t blow people up because you feel disenfranchised. Israel’s checkpoints, which the Church strongly objects to, are designed to simply ensure that innocent Israelis are not blown to smithereens on buses.
When I was a student in Israel in the mid 1980s there were almost no checkpoints.
This was the era before suicide bombings. Young Muslims were not being encouraged by the PLO and Hamas to detonate themselves in order to strike a blow for their religion.
Things, however, have changed and in the wake of Israel granting the PLO political autonomy in the West Bank after Oslo I and II the equivalent of about 60,000 Americans were murdered in Israel.
What responsible country would not take measures to protect their citizens? What would the Presbyterian Church have Israel do about the existential threat it faces each and every day? Should terrorists be allowed to come from the West Bank and murder children? But wait a second. Doesn’t the Church simply want Israel to simply withdraw fully from the West Bank? Isn’t that just? To which I answer: and leave what behind? Afghanistan? Gaza? Iraq? The Middle East is currently in a downward death spiral. The withdrawal of American troops from Iraq has led to thousands of civilians murdered there in the past two years by sectarian violence and marketplace bombs. Pakistan’s second largest airport, in Karachi, was recently overrun by terrorists. In Libya civilians are also being blow sky-high and an American ambassador has already been murdered there. Afghanistan is a viper’s nest of Taliban butchery and in Syria we’ve seen 150,000 killed in the civil war, including thousands of Arab children gassed to death by Syrian President Bashar Assad. Gaza, from which Israel withdrew in 2005, sports a Hamas theocracy filled with honor killings of women and rampant murder of homosexuals and those accused of collaboration with Israel On all this the Presbyterian church has nothing moral to offer. Blissful silence is the order of the day. Just two days before their vote to impose an economic boycott on Israel the Presbyterians voted to allow same-sex marriage.
But that did not lead them to condemn the horrific and murderous treatment of gays in Muslim countries. No, they decided that the problem with the Middle East lies in its sole democracy, the Jewish State of Israel.
There was no condemnation of Bashar Assad for using poison gas against his own people. The Church synod offered no condemnation for the ingrate Prime Minister Nouri Maliki for slowly becoming a despot in Iraq. There was no condemnation for the Palestinian Authority joining with Hamas to create a unity government, even while the Hamas charter continues to call for the genocide of the Jews wherever they may be found.
No, the Church fixed its gaze instead on blue-chip American companies creating American jobs, like Hewlett-Packard, Motorola and Caterpillar, because they help Israel protect itself from West Bank terrorists at checkpoints.
Nobody wants the checkpoints, least of all Israeli soldiers who would much rather be studying at university then checking cars for bombs. But then, no-one wants to have to go through TSA Security at airports, which is a major pain the rear – except that it prevents planes from being flown into buildings.
I’m not surprised that the Presbyterians – once the Church of choice for American presidents – is on a steep downward decline and seeing its membership being slowly decimated. The first responsibility of a religion is to serve as a moral voice and teach people right from wrong.
In a world of moral relativism, young people especially are looking for ethical direction. And any religion that doesn’t get the justice of Israel’s cause in simply trying to keep its children alive is morally lost. Likewise, a Church that does not raise its voice in support of our Muslim brothers and sisters who suffer so mightily under terrorist organizations like the Taliban and Hamas is squandering its moral authority.
Then there is the ongoing catastrophe of Christian communities in the Middle East. In Iraq alone, the Christian community has declined by 60 percent since 2003, the victims of targeted murder and violence. One would think that an American Church would use its wealth and influence to save its Christian brothers in the world’s most dangerous places. But it turns out that rather than come to the rescue of endangered co-religionists the Presbyterians remain obsessed with the Jews.
The author is founder of This World: The Values Network, the foremost organization influencing politics, media and culture with Jewish values. He has just published Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.