Print Edition
Church of Scotland 370.(Photo by: Wikimedia Commons/Green Lane)
Church of Scotland’s chutzpah debases interfaith trust
COS’s brazen plunging of a dagger into interfaith understanding does not improve the lot of a single Palestinian.
Helen Keller, one of Alexander Graham Bell’s deaf students, once said that his goal was to penetrate the “inhuman silence which separates and estranges.” By declaring that the Jewish people has no biblical claim to the land of Israel, the Church of Scotland (COS) has reversed the work of the great Scottish inventor of the telephone.

The Inheritance of Abraham? A Report on the ‘Promised Land,’ wraps an extremist anti-Israel agenda in toxic medieval theological anti-Semitism. It besmirches ancient Judaic teachings and seeks to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish state. Indeed, it has succeeded in separating and estranging two faith communities.

Here are some of the reasons why Jews are so furious: The report questions the notion that the Bible “supports an essentially Jewish state of Israel.” “Possession of any land is clearly conditional,” Jews are lectured. “The question that arises is this: Would the Jewish people today have a fairer claim to the land if they dealt justly with the Palestinians?” Biblical promises about the land of Israel were never intended to be taken literally, or as applying to a defined geographical territory, the report argues. Instead, it declares: “They are a way of speaking about how to live under God so that justice and peace reign, the weak and poor are protected.... This ‘promised land’ can be found – or built – anywhere.”

“The desire of many in the state of Israel to acquire the land of Palestine for the Jewish people is wrong. The fact that the land is currently being taken by settlement expansion, the separation barrier, house clearance, theft and force makes it doubly wrong to seek biblical sanction for this.”

“There is guilt among Western Christianity about centuries of anti-Semitism that led to discrimination against the Jews, culminating in the total evil of the Holocaust.”

The implication? That Israeli “crimes” cancel out earlier Christian sins.

Could it be that COS’ real problem is with the fact that there is today an empowered Jewish state? COS alleges that Israel’s lack of a constitution is the source of its “limiting civil liberties.” But civil liberties are zealously protected and expanded by Israel’s very activist Supreme Court based on its enforceable Basic Laws.

Meanwhile,minorities in Syria and Egypt find no protection under the law—literally being slaughtered in Syria and under siege in Egypt.

And by the way, neither Scotland nor the UK has a constitution.

On May 14, 1948, Israel became an independent nation. In response, five Arab armies sought to erase the UN vote recognizing the Jewish state. One percent of the entire Jewish population, among them Holocaust survivors, perished in that defensive war for survival. COS describes that struggle as “violence used to deprive 750,000 Palestinian people from their homes.”

COS goes on to propagate the evil canard that Israel – which extends to its Arab citizens voting rights, seats in the Knesset and on the Supreme Court – is an “apartheid” state.

Its understanding of Exodus 19:3-6, “You shall be to me a kingdom of priests, my holy nation,” as creating an “interpretation of the covenant,” that constitutes the “final difficulty... Jewish ‘exceptionalism’” is, simply put, theological anti-Semitism.

Which theological wizard guided COS Elders in their interpretation of the Bible? First we thought of Stephen Hawking, who recently canceled a trip to Israel to celebrate Shimon Peres’ 90th birthday to satisfy Palestinian protests. Then we remembered: Hawking is an atheist, and hardly a likely instructor in Biblical exegesis.

COS must have gotten its inspiration from a fellow Christian, like Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, founder of the Sabeel Liberation Theology Center. Ateek, who is cited approvingly in the document, said in an April 2001 homily, “In this season of Lent, it seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him.... The Israeli government crucifixion system is operating daily.”

Ateek, and the 2009 Kairos Palestine Document (KPD) broke the taboo against turning biblical language into politics, which is a tested recipe for producing extremism and violence. KPD denies Jewish connection to the Holy Land. It denies a covenant with the Jewish people. It serves as a stealth delivery system for a return to the medieval replacement theology, wherein Jews are replaced by Christians as the new Jews.

While it is true that many Christians reject the notion of a land covenant based on their understanding of passages in the Christian Bible, they do not deign to tell Jews how to read their Scripture. Sadly, the decades of Protestant- Jewish dialogue have taught the COS only one word from the Jewish lexicon: chutzpah.

It was Christians who sought interfaith dialogue in the aftermath of World War II, when they realized Christendom’s contribution to the anti-Semitism that powered the Holocaust. Decades of fruitful dialogue were based on principles of mutual respect and genuine understanding of the core beliefs and self-definition of the other. COS and its ilk, however, have understood nothing about the centrality of Israel in Jewish life, or about the 3,500-year connection of the People of the Book to its Torah.

COS’s brazen plunging of a dagger into interfaith understanding does not improve the lot of a single Palestinian.

Other denominations, including COS’s US sister, Presbyterian Church (USA), are achieving that through economic investment in the region.

In response to condemnation from many circles, COS has reportedly said that it recognizes Israel’s right to exist.

That does nothing to change the substance of the report, and further substantiates that they disrespect Jewish history and beliefs. What chutzpah.

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein is the director of Interfaith Relations for the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
print gohome Arab-Israeli Conflict | Israel News | Diaspora | Middle East | Opinion | Premium | Blogs | Not Just News | Edition Francaise | Green Israel

Copyright © 2014 Jpost Inc. All rights reserved • Terms of UsePrivacy Policy