Anti-‘Zionism’ seems to be bustin’ out all over. The Presbyterian Church USA, has become one of the more noisome sinks of it in the US. Its governing body has been thoroughly captured by the Left, although its fast-shrinking rank-and-file membership remains socially conservative,
The battle around anti-Semitism within the church took on a new aspect recently, when a pro-Israel faction, ‘Presbyterians for Middle East Peace’, opposed the church agenda as described in its book Zionism Unsettled. The book has now abruptly been withdrawn, presumably in response to criticism.
Zionism Unsettled was praised by former Ku Klux Klan boss David Duke and Iranian media. Another who praised it was the Rev. Stephen Sizer, the English Anglican clergyman who got into hot water for posting a link accusing Jews and Israel of responsibility for 9/11.
PFMEP’s answer to it is titled The True Agenda: the End of the Jewish State of Israel. The church in 2012 made proposals to divest from Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett-Packard Co. and Motorola because of their business ties to Israel.
The motions were then narrowly defeated, 333-331, with two abstentions, but were re-tabled in 2014 and, phrased so as to be more thorough-going, successfully passed this year. PFMEP said: ‘Since 2004, a small but determined advocacy group within the Presbyterian Church USA, representing the Israel-targeted international Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) Movement, has lobbied the denomination to divest from several companies that supposedly support Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.’ This was regardless of the fact that ‘those same companies support attempts to build the West Bank’s economy.’ It continued: ‘For the past decade, the BDS advocates have strenuously denied that they want to do the Jewish state of Israel any harm… [but] events reveal that these advocates are anything but Israel’s friends.’ They merely want, allegedly, that Israel withdraw from the West Bank. Of course, withdrawing from Judea and Samaria, let alone from the Old City of Jerusalem, would leave Israel strategically naked, without defence in depth from attacks.
The various Palestinian bodies have in any case repeated time and again that their goal is not a ‘two-State solution’, but Israel’s total destruction. Further, Israel occupied the territories only after defeating an Arab invasion in 1967 whose goal had been a second holocaust. The old borders almost cut Israel in two, and a tank could cross it at its narrowest in the time it would take the driver to smoke a cigarette. Anyway, Hamas does not want the ‘occupied territories’ back. It wants the whole of Israel, judenrein, from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, and will settle for nothing less.
Withdrawal from Judea, Samaria and the Old City would gain Israel absolutely nothing in terms of Arab goodwill – it would only be seen as weakness and would bring virtually the whole of Israel within range of improvised rockets, drones or incendiary kites and would also weaken its economy to the extent that its defence budget, already a strain on the economy, would be insupportable
What is the Presbyterian Church doing, promoting what amounts to genocide, siding with a terrorist group and against the one successful, modern, pluralistic and unambiguously democratic state in the Middle East? The only state where Christians as well as other minorities have full human rights, freedom to practice their religion and have reliable security for their lives, businesses and places of worship?
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that a major reason for the dying (its membership almost halved since 2000) church’s hatred of Israel is simply because Israel is successful against all odds. British official Sir John Hope-Simpson wrote in the Twenties ‘The helplessness of the fellah appeals to the British official. The offensive assertion of the Jewish immigrant is, on the other hand, repellent.’ I wonder what the Rev. Mr Tulloch, the gentle, pious old Presbyterian Minister who christened me many years ago, would think.
PFMEP continues: ‘The Israel Palestinian Mission Network (IPMN) and Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) have broadened their attacks on Israel with explicit challenges to Israel’s existence as the Jewish (Zionist) state it was created to be.
‘These challenges are unambiguously rampant in the so-called Zionism Unsettled. The materials in Zionism Unsettled argue that Zionism (a Jewish state) is inherently discriminatory, and that the very idea of a homeland for the Jewish people is illegitimate. The guide states that “The fundamental assumption of this study is that no exceptionalist claims can be justified in our interconnected, pluralistic world”.’ ‘The BDS advocates go so far as to criticise Jewish prayer books around the world for including a prayer for the state of Israel.’
The Prebyterian Assembly must have been a lively affair. It not only refused to condemn Hamas terrorism, but a Muslim at the gathering threatened to kill the anti-Hamas and human rights activist Bassem Eid. Eid had been imprisoned by Yasser Arafat, and attacked for exposing Palestinian human rights violations, but has continued to speak against further violations and anti-Israel bias. He has established a Palestinian human rights monitoring group.
Eid attended the conference on June 18 to testify for a resolution that sought to condemn Hamas for militarising the Palestinian children in the Gaza strip. ‘I work with Gazan people every day and have no doubt that they are using people as a human shield,’ Eid said. To Eid’s dismay, the resolution for which he testified did not pass. ‘PCUSA didn’t condemn Hamas,’ said Eid. ‘These Presbyterians were more extremist than many extremists of the Middle East – they are completely disconnected from reality.’ Criticism of Hamas was not allowed.
Eid said, ‘During a break, I approached a water cooler and suddenly someone was standing beside me, speaking to me in Arabic telling me he was going to kill me. I ignored him, but he followed me on the escalator and again said in Arabic that he will kill me and that I am a traitor and a Zionist collaborator.’
‘Collaborator’ is an accusation that Hamas uses to justify executing Palestinians in Gaza, noted Eid. The man followed Eid to his hotel, where Eid arranged for others to accompany him back to the conference centre. Police identified the man and he received a warning, but was let back into the building nevertheless. Again, what would dear old Mr Tulloch have thought?
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