Presbyterians push to demonize Israel

Church's report unconvincing in support of Israel.

You probably don’t remember but before June 1967 there was peace in the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. There were no fedayeen, no terror attacks, no PLO. Only after it was “colonized in the 20th century” by Jewish immigrants from Europe who took “the land of Palestine from a majority of its inhabitants at gunpoint” did things go sour.
First came the Nakba, the catastrophe that was the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, followed 19 years later by the “illegal” occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
That’s the view the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) will be asked to endorse next month when it meets in Minneapolis to consider a report by its Middle East study committee.
Peace could again prevail over the land if the Israelis would only withdraw from all the lands occupied in 1967. To that end, the report calls for the US to halt all military and economic assistance for Israel.
“If there were no occupation, there would be no Palestinian resistance,” says the report.
The Israeli occupation is “the major obstacle to regional stability” and is “an evil that must be resisted and removed.” The authors show they understand “resistance” is a euphemism for terrorism, but say it is the Israelis’ own fault for inflicting so much suffering on the Palestinians.
“Resistance is a right and a duty for the Christian.”
IT WOULD be too easy to dismiss such unreality as terminal naïveté, but there is something much more poisonous here.
The 172-page PCUSA report says the “primary” cause of the Middle East conflict is “the ongoing Israeli occupation...
and American complicity in this unjust enterprise.”
You can read it at pdf/middleeastpeace- fullreport.pdf. It also includes a lengthy Kairos Palestine document, by an affiliated group of Christian Palestinians, that further pushes the demonization and delegitimization of Israel.
Taken together, the contempt for Israel is so blinding that it not only justifies Palestinian terror against the Jewish state but is little bothered by the avowed goal of Hamas and Hizbullah, like their Iranian mentors, to wipe Israel off the map.
But that may be because the authors question whether Israel should be on the map in the first place. The report insists “we support the existence of Israel,” but that is unconvincing in the context of the entire document.
This document ignores Arab refusal to recognize the Jewish state, the attempts to destroy it at birth and the threats to drive it into the sea. It was the Jews’ own fault for being there in the first place. The report reaches back to biblical times to delegitimize Jewish claims to the land. Jacob, aka Israel, stole the birthright from his brother Esau and refused later entreaties to combine their interests and dwell in the land together.
(Proof those Jews can’t get along with anyone.) It denies that the Jews have “rights” to the land as Abraham’s descendants, only “responsibilities... for what is being done in and with it.”
Abraham’s covenant applies equally to Jews and Christians.
The ancient Hebrews under Joshua took the land illegally from the Canaanites by “holy war.” In a very revealing footnote (p. 21), it says: “The phrase ‘the right of Israel to exist’ is a source of pain” for authors of the report, “who are in solidarity with Palestinians who feel that the State of Israel has denied them their inalienable human rights.”
While questioning Israel’s Law of Return for Jews, it insists there must be a “right of return or compensation” for Palestinians “to Palestine- Israel.”
National Jewish organizations, which the report accuses of “complicity in the excesses of Israeli policy,” have unders t a n d a b l y denounced the document.
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism has said it is “distinctly onesided, traffics in troubling theology, misr e p r e s e n t s Jewish history.”
ADL has called it a “toxic mix of bad history, p o l i t i c a l l y motivated distortions and o f f e n s i v e attacks on Judaism and Israel.” The Jewish Council of Public Affairs has called it “blatantly anti-Israel and reduces the Arab-Israeli- Palestinian conflict to a caricature of right and wrong.”
“It’s a highly-selective use of text, history and circumstances to form an anti-Israel narrative,” said JCPA’s Ethan Felson. “They give significant voice to anti-Zionists, condemn companies that sell to Israel and allow for the demonization of Israel. That’s several red lines.”
AT ITS 2004 meeting PCUSA voted for divestment from Israel but was forced to back down two years later when many members objected, but this latest report leaves little doubt its authors endorse the policy. The group promised to take a more balanced approach but so far there the evidence points in the opposite direction.
Next month’s PCUSA meeting in Minneapolis has an opportunity to reject the anti- Israel, anti-Jewish excesses of its study committee or to inflict further damage on the church’s relations with the Jewish community.
“The church has a choice to make,” Felson added. “There is much valid witness for Palestinians that does not call into question the church’s integrity or endanger its relationship with Jews, or they can choose this brand of witness with all its toxicity.”
The Presbyterians say their goal is peace, but their heavily biased assessment can only make peace harder to attain by reinforcing the growing skepticism by an Israeli public that sees delegitimization, not a twostate agreement, as the goal of the Palestinians and their supporters – and give fuel to those Palestinians who believe the time is coming when the world will force Israel to, in the immortal words of Helen Thomas, “get the hell out of Palestine.”