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Middle East Issues





PC(USA) Anti-Zionists Destroying Their Church by Attacking Israel


Note: The following piece appeared in The Algemeiner on Feb. 13, 2014.
 

Given the hostility that emanates from the Presbyterian Church (USA) towards Israel and the Jewish people, it’s hard to see how a self-respecting Jew could set foot in a PC(USA) church.

It’s hard to see how self-respecting Presbyterianscan set foot in PC(USA) churches!

The denomination has been hijacked by people who have it in for Jews and their homeland. When it comes to promoting peace and human rights, PC(USA) peacemakers have Jews on the brain.

Just how bad is it? A Presbyterian report prepared by the denomination’s peacemakers – and sold on the denomination’s website - has gotten glowing reviews from both David Duke and Iran’s PressTV. Here is David Duke’s victory lap:
In a major breakthrough in the worldwide struggle against Zionist extremism, the largest Presbyterian church in the United States, the PC(USA), has issued a formal statement calling Zionism “Jewish Supremacism” — a term first coined and made popular by Dr. David Duke.
 
Endorsements like this are the logical consequence of a process that began in 2004 when the PC(USA)’s General Assembly approved an overture calling on the denomination to sell its stock in companies that do business with Israel. With the passage of this initiative (which was ultimately rescinded), the General Assembly set the stage for a well-choreographed kabuki dance that has repeated itself, like clockwork, every two years.
 

It goes like this: Sometime early in every even-numbered year, the Jew-obsessed peacemakers in the PC(USA) release booklets and statements that attack Israel and American Jews in a pretty ham-handed way.

They also submit overtures to the denomination’s General Assembly calling on the church to declare Israel an apartheid state or to sell its stock in companies that do business with the Jewish state. The overtures come from local presbyteries (groups of local churches) within the denomination or they come from standing committees created by the denomination’s General Assembly.

The anti-Israel reports and overtures prompt outrage on the part of American Jewish leaders. Some of the more responsible folks within the denomination (there are a few) come forward to ask “What are we doing? Do we really want to be doing this?”
 
The General Assembly passes, some but not all, of the overtures put forth by the anti-Israel “peace” activists. People lament the extremism of the anti-Israel folks and sometimes the pro-Israel activists inside the church will get an overture passed that calls on the church to be a genuine force for peace and not to demonize anyone involved in the Arab-Israeli conflict. (These overtures are ignored both by the anti-Israel activists and denominational leaders in Louisville who go on attacking Israel between General Assemblies.)
 
At the end of the General Assembly, the pro-Israel folks inside the denomination talk about what needs to be done to take the momentum away from the anti-Israel folks inside the PC(USA).
Sadly, it’s always the anti-Israel folks who get off the first shot when the cycle begins again with the release of yet another anti-Zionist booklet released in the months before the General Assembly. And at about the same time, the texts of divestment overtures targeting Israel are posted on the denomination’s website.
This prompts people inside and outside the denomination to declaim just how tired everyone is of dealing with anti-Zionists in the PC(USA). Jewish leaders say the denomination has really done it this time and there is simply no dealing with this church.
The pro-Israel folks inside the denomination are caught flat-footed, again, by the reports and overtures and declare that this time, something really, really has to change.

And still everyone dances to the tune set by the anti-Zionists inside the PC(USA). The fact is, the anti-Zionists come to every General Assembly ready to play while the pro-Israel folks are still lacing up their skates when the puck is dropped.

These folks are simply obsessed. One of the most surreal moments of my life came in 2010 when I walked past a young man outside the plenary session of the General Assembly in Minneapolis. He held up quart-sized freezer bag filled with small stones. As delegates filed into vote on an Israel-related resolution, he told people that they were rocks from a Palestinian home that was demolished by the IDF.

These days, when I go to Israel, I buy rosary beads from a store in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem. This guy went to West Bank and grabbed an artifact that testified to the evils of the Jewish state. Think about it.

Predictably enough, the dance has begun again in 2014. This year, the ballet begins with the publication of Zionism Unsettled, a 74-page booklet published by the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the PC (USA), a group created by a vote of the denomination’s 2004 General Assembly and charged with “educating” the church about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
 
This seems like a reasonable mandate, but the IPMN has fulfilled these duties by posting racist and anti-Semitic imagery on its (now defunct) Facebook Page. The booklet is much the same. Jonathan Tobin is absolutely right when he declares: “As a work of political science or history, Zionism Unsettled is unworthy of serious discussion.”
 
At points, the document actually insults the intelligence. For example, it invokes the testimony of Mustafa Abu Sway, an imam from Jerusalem, who has expressed his hope that the Jewish state “would disappear.” In Zionism Unsettled, Sway talks about the inclusive nature of Islam and juxtaposes this with Zionist exclusivity.
 
Given that Christians and Jews have been oppressed in Muslim-majority countries throughout the Middle East, about the only people who can take this report seriously are David Duke and the people at PressTV.
 
Coinciding with the release of this document is an announcement that the General Assembly will be voting on a resolution that calls on the church to sell its stock in three companies that do business with Israel.
 
Ultimately, it’s up to the people inside the PC(USA) to fix this problem. Outside Jewish groups can raise a hue and cry, but ultimately, the people inside the church have to do the heavy lifting. They have to explain to their fellow Presbyterians that a PC(USA) organization – the IPMN – has dragged the church into the orbit of folks like David Duke.
 
And then self-respecting Presbyterians have to act.
 
Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).

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