The Presbyterian Church USA Is At It Again

When anti-Israel bias gets in the way of peacemaking.

The Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) is at it again, trying to do damage to the Jewish state and once more displaying its anti-Israel bias.  On its website, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the PCUSA announced that it “strongly condemns the U.S. President’s decision to single out Jerusalem as a Jewish capital.  Jerusalem is the spiritual heart of three Abrahamic faiths…” Factually speaking, Jerusalem has never been the capital of any conquering empire that took possession of the Land of Israel.  It has however, been the capital of two Jewish commonwealths, and the capital of King David’s kingdom.  

The Babylonians destroyed the First Temple in Jerusalem but never made the city its capital, neither did the Greeks or the Romans, the Persians or Byzantines.  The Arabs and the Muslim Ottoman Empire made Ramle, not Jerusalem, as their administrative capital in Palestine.  Moreover, for Islam, Mecca and Medina but not Jerusalem, are the “spiritual hearts” of the faith.  Rome, Italy, and more precisely the Vatican, is the capital and spiritual heart of Catholic Christianity, as was Constantinople for Orthodox Christianity.  The Ottoman Turks rendered this one obsolete when they conquered it in 1453.  For Protestant Christianity, Jerusalem is valued only if the Bible they read is inerrant.  

Jerusalem is therefore, not really the spiritual heart of three Abrahamic faiths, but only for one - Judaism.  For more than two millenniums, Jews would use the words on every celebratory occasion: at Weddings, Passover Seders, etc. (Psalms 137:5-6) “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning, let my tongue stick to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.” 

The PCUSA IPMN did not write a letter to the U.S. President during the 19-year (1948-1967) illegal occupation of the Old City of Jerusalem by the Jordanians, who denied Jews access to the remnant of the Temple - the Western Wall, and desecrated synagogues and the ancient Jewish cemetery at the Mount of Olives.  The double-standard and hypocrisy is rather clear.  

In his long statement, responding to President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, General Assembly stated clerk, Presbyterian Church USA, wrote: “Claiming Jerusalem as the capital for one people not only damages hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians…” Yet, when the Jordanian Arabs expelled or killed the Jewish population of the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem in 1948, no such declaration was made by the PCUSA about a “capital for one people only.” And, as far as peace is concerned, long before President Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority (PA) led by Mahmoud Abbas, not to mention the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza, who openly declare their intention to destroy the Jewish state, have rejected peace negotiations, and a peace agreement with Israel.  Israeli Prime Ministers Barak (2000) and Olmert (2008) offered far reaching concessions, including sharing Jerusalem as the capital of both Palestine and Israel.  The Palestinians however, preferred to use the corrupt UN institutions to deal with Israel rather than negotiate, and achieve a true peace with the Jewish state.

Rev. Herbert Nelson, II should ask himself the question of why Israel has been the only state among the 193 member states of the UN whose chosen capital has not been recognized.  If there was any amount of fairness and justice in the Louisville, KY headquarters of the PCUSA, the answer would have been that this is an historic injustice against the Jewish state.  

The PCUSA biased political involvement on Jerusalem was apparently not enough.  Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, the stated clerk of the PCUSA, along with 17 other mainline Protestant leaders sent a letter to Congress, calling on it to “oppose” the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” (Senate Resolution 720, and House Resolution 1697), which was introduced on 3/23/2017.  The letter told Congress that the act would “put legal obstacles in the way of nonviolent peaceful action meant to bring about social change, and would legislate against the freedom to make choices in the stewardship of our financial resources.”  The IPMN pointed out that “boycott is a long-standing and time-tested tradition in our church.  From bus boycotts to Soda-Stream boycotts, Presbyterians have protested injustice over many decades through economic actions such as boycotts, and joined in nonviolent actions against oppression.  We lift up the voices of the oppressed peoples through boycotts and stand with them in their struggles…”

Falsehood under the guise of justice is once again presented by the IPMN pro-Palestinian lobby.  Soda-Stream was founded by an Israeli Jew, who sought a way to peace by bringing Israeli Jews and Palestinian-Arabs to work and get to know each other.  It provided lucrative employment to hundreds of impoverished Palestinian families in the West Bank.  IPMN has taken pride in utilizing boycotts that returned Palestinian families to impoverishment and despair.  

In 2016, this reporter interviewed Bassem Eid, a Palestinian Arab-Muslim civil and human rights activist.  Eid expressed his outrage at the hypocrisy of the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions).  He characterized the BDS campaign against Israel and specifically against the companies operating in Judea and Samaria as “genocide for the Palestinian economy.” Bassem explained that “92,000 Palestinians are working in Israel, and an additional 15,000 in Judea and Samaria.  Should these Palestinians lose their jobs, their extended families and the Palestinian economy would be undermined.” Eid charged angrily, “I would like to ask who appointed the BDS to speak on behalf of the Palestinians?” He added, “The BDS movement is operating in Europe and the U.S., but has no presence in the West Bank and Gaza, or even in the Arab world.  These BDS people are exploiting the Palestinian suffering…” Eid explained that dignity can only come through economic development, and added that economic prosperity is far more important than political meetings arranged by the UN and the EU.  He stressed the point that Palestinians working in Israel earn five times more than Palestinians working in the Palestinian Authority.  Bassem also mentioned that in Gaza, unemployment is at 45% and in the West Bank, 23%.”  

The BDS movement is not only using violent speech, it is anti-Semitic as well.  Germany’s Deutsche Welle reported (9/10/17) that “The international protest movement to boycott Israel is increasingly encountering resistance in Germany’s big cities. Frankfurt, Berlin and Munich have said BDS uses language from the Nazi era.”  BDS proponents have been known to outright threaten, harass, intimidate and attack students or professors who disagree with them, as well as anyone else who gets in their way.

In the U.S., a number of MSA (Muslim Students Association) and SJP (Student for Justice in Palestine) members have been responsible for physically harassing and assaulting Jewish students, vandalizing Jewish communal property, disrupting pro-Israel speakers, and aggressively confronting Jewish students at pro-Israel events… Some MSA and SJP chapters consistently sponsor speakers, films, and exhibits that engage in discourse or use language considered anti-Semitic by the U.S. State Department.

PSUSA and its IPMN are supporting an intolerant, violent, and anti-Semitic manifestation called the BDS movement.  It is targeting a single state – the Jewish state of Israel.  Elements within PCUSA seek to delegitimize the Jewish state and deny its historical connections to Jerusalem (Jews have been the majority in Jerusalem since the mid-19th Century).  The PCUSA, therefore, could never be an Israeli-Palestinian peacemaker, given its gross anti-Israel bias.