Presbyterian Church led by anti-Israel activists

By Ted Belman

Stand with Us published an article by Roberta Seid PhD entitled “Presbyterian Dissonance. In it she covers the recent Presbyterian General Assembly which passed a good resolution and a horrible one. The latter contradicted the former and strangely both were approved overwhelmingly.

At this GA many Jewish organization address the members to make sure they heard Israel’s side. To no avail.

    [..] How can this apparent contradiction be explained, and what does it bode for the future?

    The fact is that the Church is deeply divided about Israeli-Palestinian issues. Anti-Israel forces dominate the Church bureaucracy and leadership, the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP), and the various Middle East related organs, from the Church’s Office of the Middle East and Europe headed by Victor Makari to the IPMN and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. But Presbyterian pews around the country tend to be sympathetic to Israel, and were caught by surprise with the 2004 divestment resolution. Presbyterian leaders have emerged who are dedicated to reversing the anti-Israel positions, from Reverends William Harter and Jim Cushman to Jim Roberts and Gary Green. They have been struggling to counter the anti-Israel positions of the entrenched bureaucracy. They have an uphill battle.

    [..] But that very democracy is one of the reasons for the contradictory vote on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Many of the committee members, who are all chosen randomly just months before the Assembly starts, and many of the delegates-at-large simply don’t know much about the conflict and its history. Yet, they are asked to make judgments on it that will represent the voice of the 2.2 million-member Presbyterian Church.

    They are easy prey for the Church’s anti-Israel bureaucracy. They rely on them as experts, and see no reason to distrust their input. When points of information or clarification were requested as the Committee delegates debated the Israel-related Overtures, ACSWP supplied the answers. The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) sent letters to delegates before the Assembly began which blamed the “40 years of Occupation” for the conflict, and urged delegates to vote for the eight anti-Israel Overtures and against the three balanced Overtures that were to be presented in committee.[1]

    As with many similar groups that have sprung up in other denominations, the anti-Israel activists dominate key church positions and are well organized. They led the original divestment campaign in 2004. Taken aback by the check on divestment in 2006, this year, they and their allies, such as JVP, mailed the delegates their literature. They frame their political agenda in the theological and peace and justice language that resonates with Presbyterians, with Palestinians depicted only as innocent victims of a predatory, land-grabbing power, Israel.

    Delegates could also be easily saturated by the many events that showcased anti-Israel speakers. Instead of the controversial Palestinian Christian Rev. Naim Ateek who has been accused of blatant anti-Semitism, the Church brought Israeli-Arab Archbishop of the Galilee, Elias Chacour of the Melkite Catholic Church. But Chacour shares Ateek’s anti-Israel views, as became evident in his talks. He just presents them in more acceptable language.

    Chacour led the services at the Wednesday morning Ecumenical Service where the current Church leader (“Stated Clerk”) Clifton Kirkpatrick warmly endorsed him, introducing him as “one of the great reconcilers and peacemakers of this century” and where Chacour disarmed worshippers by stating, “I am a Palestinian,” then opening his clothing and saying, “I have no bombs”—thereby belittling Israelis concerns about terrorism while eliciting appreciative laughter. He praised the Presbyterians’ previous anti-Israel positions, declaring that “your church has shown the courage of saying the truth in the face of mighty people.” As one attendee told me, he warmed worshippers’ hearts with his vision of Jews, Muslims, and Christians all living peacefully together.

    Chacour then was featured at a 10 AM press conference with Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, where he praised Haifa as a model of true integration that should be extended throughout Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. He expressed his “wishful” hope for one “secular democratic state where Christians, Jews and Muslims can worship God or not worship God,” and declared that it was necessary to “prove to Israel that every non-Jew is not an enemy.” He also blamed Israel for the Holy Land’s declining Christian population, denying that Israel is the one nation in the Middle East where the Christian population has grown in the last half-century instead of declined.

    Chacour’s busy day was not yet over. On Wednesday night, local Presbyterian churches sponsored a dinner for him which drew over 250 people. Those who did not attend the Chacour events needn’t have worried about missing his message. The next day, the back page of the General Assembly News featured two large articles about his talks.

    But Chacour was not the only featured speaker. On Wednesday, delegates could go to the “Peace Breakfast” or an afternoon event at the Israel/Palestine booth to meet Jerusalem-born Mubarak Awad who is often hailed as the Palestinian Ghandi. But Awad has condemned Palestinian violence only for tactical, not moral, reasons, [2] and according to the Princeton student newspaper, he told a 2002 audience that “The history of the Jewish religion has contributed to the Israeli-Palestinian problem and Israel cannot continue to exist.” [3]

    On Wednesday, delegates could also attend a session entitled “Facts on the Ground” put on at a local Presbyterian Church wtih Awad, and two speakers who share his views, veteran Jewish anti-Israel activist Jeff Halper, and Israeli-Arab American, Jonathan Kuttab.

    The victory of Committee and Assembly approval of Overture 11-06 also could have passed unnoticed by the delegates at large. The General Assembly News report after the Assembly vote did not even mention 11-06, and instead wrote about 11-01, and about the Assembly’s rejection of a floor amendment to delete 11-01’s clause approving the “Amman Call.”

    These Assembly actions occurred within a larger, disconcerting debate.

It seems to me that the dice were loaded.

July 4, 2008 | 9 Comments »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

Leave a Reply

9 Comments / 9 Comments

  1. The Indian Act of 1831, Jewish assimilation in America, the death camps of the Holocaust, secular Zionism, the invasion of Afghanistan after 9/11, and the Disengagement in Israel are all birds of the same feather.

  2. 2Co 11:13 For such men are false apostles, b deceitful c workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. d
    2Co 11:14 And no wonder, for Satan e himself masquerades as an angel of light.
    2Co 11:15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. f

  3. “prove to Israel that every non-Jew is not an enemy.”

    It is muslims who see all non-muslims as the enemy. It disgusts me the way this dhimmi piece of trash projects muslim behavior onto Jews. He deserves to be beheaded by his jihadist friends. Any so-called “christian” who sides with these monsters deserves to suffer violence from their hands.

  4. My first real girlfriend was Presbyterian, and I can tell you all that they are not a happy go lucky lot. They are Americas equivalent to To the Anglican Church and that puts them a short rung below Catholicism. They are so full of themselves and so hateful towards Jews they were not even into conversions of Jews Just hated Jews period. They just wished us to be gone out of sight and out of mind , well almost!

  5. Is it my imagination that the Presbyterian church is looking more and more like the Catholic church?

    Comment by keelie — July 4, 2008 @ 7:24 am

    They all look the same to me.

    Steeples……. belfries……. hunchbacks……..

  6. Thanks. I’d better get the lead out.

    Comment by Ted Belman — July 4, 2008 @ 7:25 am

    Please! This is a family blog! 🙂

  7. Is it my imagination that the Presbyterian church is looking more and more like the Catholic church?