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Middle East Issues





Presbyterian "Peacemakers" Go Off the Rails, Again


Very few people are going to mistake the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) as a genuine peacemaking organization. Instead of promoting peace, the organization has a well-earned reputation for trafficking in anti-Semitic and racist commentary about the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Things got so bad a while back that the organization was forced to take down its Facebook page because of some of the ugly cartoons that IPMN activists posted there. At one point, IPMN activist Noushin Framke encouraged Hamas – an anti-Semitic organization that seeks Israel's destruction – to hold onto kidnapped IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit until the Palestinians achieve right of return. She has also denied the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state. Such statements are contrary to the IPMN's mandate to educate and inform members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) about the Arab-Israeli conflict.

They are acts of demonization and defamation that incite hostility toward Israel, which seems to be the actual intent of the organization's leaders and activists.

The IPMN has issued a shrill press release through the Religion News Service, which, for a couple of hundred dollars, will send a statement to news outlets throughout the country.

Editors and producers on the RNS email list should beware however, because the press release, issued today (October 10, 2013), includes at least one misstatement of fact that predictably enough, serves to demonize Israel. It also condemns Hewlett-Packard for selling Israel a product that is actually making life easier for the Palestinians.

That simply doesn't make any sense.

Factual Misstatement

The press release states:

The United States gives Israel $3.1B in military aid every year, as compared to $2.4B in U.S. military aid that is divided among 80 other nations in the world. U.S. aid is deposited into an Israeli interest-bearing account, early in the year.

Here, the IPMN is suggesting that Israel is getting more foreign military aid than the rest of the countries in the world combined. But just how much sense does that make?

Yes the U.S. does give approximately $3 billion worth of military aid to Israel. But the $2.4 billion figure that the IPMN reports is divided among other 80 nations in the world is junk, simply junk.

This chart from PBS for military aid indicates that in 2010, the United States gave $14.5 billion to foreign militaries in 2010, of which Israel got approximately 20 percent. This website, published by USAID indicates that in 2011 the United States gave close to $18 billion to foreign militaries and that Afghanistan got significantly more military aid than Israel. And more recently, the National Priorities Project reports that in 2013 the U.S. will give $14 billion to foreign militaries.

Hand Scanner Controversy

The IPMN also claims that Hewlett-Packard“provides biometric scanning equipment (hand scanning as ID) to monitor only Palestinians at checkpoints inside the West Bank in order to restrictPalestinian movement.” The release then states“This is outright racial profiling.”

First off, it's not racial profiling. The Palestinians are not subjected to checkpoints because they are another race, but because they are part of a national movement whose leaders have regularly declared their intent to destroy the Jewish state. The scanners are used to keep terrorists out of Israeli shopping malls and pizza parlors and allow permitted workers into Israel so that they can go to their jobs. The IPMN's charge of racism is ludicrous.

Secondly, Israel has installed the biometric scanners in an attempt to get people through the checkpoints faster and so that Palestinians won't have to wait in line waiting to have their documents checked by soldiers.

This article, published by Ynet in 2010 reports that the goal of electronic scanners is to reduce friction between Israelis and Palestinians to minimize the time it takes for people to get through the checkpoints.

This has been an ongoing concern. In 2009, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel issued a report that lamented the amount of time it took for Palestinians to get through the checkpoints. In the report, the EAPPI stated that the scanners are sometimes unreliable and called for them to be made more reliable.

So here we have the IPMN complaining about the scanners and the EAPPI calling for them to be improved.

It's case of Israel being damned if it does, damned if it doesn't.

Journalists who rely on the IPMN press for factual information and background about the Arab-Israeli conflict do so at their own risk. Not only does the organization have a history of hate speech, it broadcasts misinformation about the conflict to the church it serves and to the general public.


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