Liberal Presbyterians vs. Israel, U.S. army–or not? or not yet?

Have you noticed that the liberal, mainline Protestant denominations are asserting themselves more?   Consider what the PCUSA is about to do:

The Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUSA) is about to release a report which denounces Israel as a “racist” nation which has absolutely no historical, covenantal, or theological right to the Holy Land. The report calls for the United States to withhold financial and military aid to Israel and for boycotts and sanctions against Israel. That’s not all. The report also endorses a Palestinian “right of return” and “apologizes to Palestinians for even conceding that Israel has a right to exist.” According to the press release, it also states that Israel’s history begins only with the Holocaust and that Israel is “a nation mistakenly created by Western powers at the expense of the Palestinian people to solve the ‘Jewish problem’.”

In addition, PCUSA has also resolved to divest in companies that supply military equipment to the American Army, e.g. Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, etc.

via Chesler Chronicles » Presbyterians Usher in the Jewish Holiday of Purim.

UPDATE: Thanks to Webmonk for contacting the PCUSA to ask them about this. The church denies what the Simon Wiesenthal Center is saying. The PCUSA gave him a statement that reads in part as follows:

“We want to be sure to say to you in no uncertain terms: We support the existence of Israel as a sovereign nation within secure and recognized borders. No “but,” no “let’s get this out of the way so we can say what we really want to say.” We support Israel’s existence as granted by the U.N. General Assembly. We support Israel’s existence as a home for the Jewish people. We have said this before, and we say this again. We say it because we believe it; we say it because we want it to continue to be true.”

I’d still like to learn what the Simon Wiesenthal Center–a respected battler of anti-semitism and defender of Jews–is quoting here. Maybe a draft of a study group that has not been approved by the entire church body. I’ll try to find out more.

UPDATE: I found the answer on the PCUSA website.
The Wiesenthal Center was quoting a draft document from a study group that will be presented for adoption at the PCUSA’s next convention in July. So this is something that the PCUSA is considering and that the Simon Wiesenthal Center is trying to stop.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Jonathan

    Now there’s some good investment strategy. The military-industrial sector is about one of the few that is actually making profit and paying dividends these days. This is more rush toward irrelevance.

  • Jonathan

    Now there’s some good investment strategy. The military-industrial sector is about one of the few that is actually making profit and paying dividends these days. This is more rush toward irrelevance.

  • WebMonk

    No, the military-industrial sector is not doing much different than the rest of the stock market. Some are above the DOW average, some are below.

  • WebMonk

    No, the military-industrial sector is not doing much different than the rest of the stock market. Some are above the DOW average, some are below.

  • Steven Peterson

    While I don’t think the Israeli government is the fount of all evil, I don’t think the reaction to the PCUSA is to go to the exact opposite stance and hold Israel up as a paragon of virtue that can do no wrong. Both sides generally manage to bring out the worst in the other.

  • Steven Peterson

    While I don’t think the Israeli government is the fount of all evil, I don’t think the reaction to the PCUSA is to go to the exact opposite stance and hold Israel up as a paragon of virtue that can do no wrong. Both sides generally manage to bring out the worst in the other.

  • Cincinnatus

    Huh. I actually agree with the PCUSA here.

  • Cincinnatus

    Huh. I actually agree with the PCUSA here.

  • kerner

    I don’t want to bash Israel, necessarily, but I have read a lot about this, and the Presbyterians have a point. Zionism sounded great in theory, but most of us completely ignore the level of violence and repression it took, and still takes, to put it into practice.

    Focusing on today, the charge of racism is based on the fact that there are about as many Arabs in Israeli controlled territory as there are Israelis. Birth rates being what they are, there will soon be considerably more Arabs than Israelis. Most of these Arabs are not allowed to vote and are allowed few of the freedoms we take for granted.

    There is little economic activity in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. There is some agriculture and construction industry, but basically, if an Arab wants a real job, he/she has to go to Israel to get it.

    As I understand it, the attitudes, and treatment, of the Christian Arabs in Israel and the territories under Israeli control are substantially the same as that of Muslim Arabs. That is, the Christians are treated no better than the Muslims are, and like it no better than the Muslims do. Not that the Muslim Arabs always get along with the Christians; they don’t. But Christian Arabs tend to identify more with other Arabs than they do with Israelis.

    Israel exists largely because the USA supported it in 1948, and it continues to exist because the USA continues to support it. I realize that it is difficult to reverse a position that we have held for 60 years, but I sure wish I knew how we are benefitting from supporting Israel. I suppose dropping Israel now could cause us even greater problems, but that’s the only argument for supporting them that makes much sense to me.

  • kerner

    I don’t want to bash Israel, necessarily, but I have read a lot about this, and the Presbyterians have a point. Zionism sounded great in theory, but most of us completely ignore the level of violence and repression it took, and still takes, to put it into practice.

    Focusing on today, the charge of racism is based on the fact that there are about as many Arabs in Israeli controlled territory as there are Israelis. Birth rates being what they are, there will soon be considerably more Arabs than Israelis. Most of these Arabs are not allowed to vote and are allowed few of the freedoms we take for granted.

    There is little economic activity in the West Bank or Gaza Strip. There is some agriculture and construction industry, but basically, if an Arab wants a real job, he/she has to go to Israel to get it.

    As I understand it, the attitudes, and treatment, of the Christian Arabs in Israel and the territories under Israeli control are substantially the same as that of Muslim Arabs. That is, the Christians are treated no better than the Muslims are, and like it no better than the Muslims do. Not that the Muslim Arabs always get along with the Christians; they don’t. But Christian Arabs tend to identify more with other Arabs than they do with Israelis.

    Israel exists largely because the USA supported it in 1948, and it continues to exist because the USA continues to support it. I realize that it is difficult to reverse a position that we have held for 60 years, but I sure wish I knew how we are benefitting from supporting Israel. I suppose dropping Israel now could cause us even greater problems, but that’s the only argument for supporting them that makes much sense to me.

  • WebMonk

    I started looking into this and frankly I am becoming very skeptical of the reality of this proposed release. EVERYTHING that is said about this on the Internet all stems from an !!!Action Alert!!! from an advocacy group.

    Looking through the PCUSA website and employing my Google-fu, I haven’t found any hint of the “press release” the advocacy group is claiming. Their claim also seems to be at wild odds with what the existing press and news releases from the PCUSA. PCUSA has made critical statements about Israel (and others in the Middle East) that severity of what they say is DRASTICALLY different than what the advocacy group is claiming.

    I think Veith and others got suckered in by an exaggerating advocacy group looking to stir up their members.

  • WebMonk

    I started looking into this and frankly I am becoming very skeptical of the reality of this proposed release. EVERYTHING that is said about this on the Internet all stems from an !!!Action Alert!!! from an advocacy group.

    Looking through the PCUSA website and employing my Google-fu, I haven’t found any hint of the “press release” the advocacy group is claiming. Their claim also seems to be at wild odds with what the existing press and news releases from the PCUSA. PCUSA has made critical statements about Israel (and others in the Middle East) that severity of what they say is DRASTICALLY different than what the advocacy group is claiming.

    I think Veith and others got suckered in by an exaggerating advocacy group looking to stir up their members.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I blame Persia and Babylon for all of this. Oh, wait … no, I’m wrong.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    I blame Persia and Babylon for all of this. Oh, wait … no, I’m wrong.

  • http://howtobeagodlymanlyman.blogspot.com JoeS

    WebMonk, I have seen the divestment piece on the PC(USA) site (its been around for a few years), but yes, this goes deeper than just divestment.

    I doubt that any PC(USA)ers who are behind this are concerned about the secular nature of modern Israel and are calling for the Jews in Israel to repent and turn back to God. That’s the problem I have with “my” (*cough*) denomination. They (HQ) have replaced the true Gospel, which has implications for international policy, with a “gospel” of political justice.

  • http://howtobeagodlymanlyman.blogspot.com JoeS

    WebMonk, I have seen the divestment piece on the PC(USA) site (its been around for a few years), but yes, this goes deeper than just divestment.

    I doubt that any PC(USA)ers who are behind this are concerned about the secular nature of modern Israel and are calling for the Jews in Israel to repent and turn back to God. That’s the problem I have with “my” (*cough*) denomination. They (HQ) have replaced the true Gospel, which has implications for international policy, with a “gospel” of political justice.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    A fellow denomination of the CPUSA (oops, PCUSA, I get ‘em confused) actually had a lot to do with my coming to Christ. They ran a “peace center” at the campus church I tried, and having just attempted to get an appointment to USMA, I knew the other side of the debate and was….

    ….not very impressed, and I went elsewhere. Hence the ultraliberal propaganda of that church drove me, indirectly, into the arms of Christ. So this can be, ironically, a good thing.

    (and regarding the specific issues, I’ll start to feel some sympathy for economic privation in Gaza and such when people there stop launching rocket attacks at elementary schools and hospitals from elementary schools and hospitals…..)

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    A fellow denomination of the CPUSA (oops, PCUSA, I get ‘em confused) actually had a lot to do with my coming to Christ. They ran a “peace center” at the campus church I tried, and having just attempted to get an appointment to USMA, I knew the other side of the debate and was….

    ….not very impressed, and I went elsewhere. Hence the ultraliberal propaganda of that church drove me, indirectly, into the arms of Christ. So this can be, ironically, a good thing.

    (and regarding the specific issues, I’ll start to feel some sympathy for economic privation in Gaza and such when people there stop launching rocket attacks at elementary schools and hospitals from elementary schools and hospitals…..)

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Isreal has as much right to that land as the United States has to the land we possess. And calling Israel racist is just buying into a load of crap resonating from people pissed they lost a war, a war they started with the avowed goal to drive every Jew into the sea.
    Yet for those interested, there are Arabs and Palestinians who are actually citizens of Israel and do get to vote in their elections. There are just many of them who refuse to go with the politcal process.
    but if you want to support mass genocide, go ahead and play along with the PCUSA.
    A good Idea for the Missouri Synod though, would be to issue a statement in support of Israel at this time, which might show the world who the real anti-Semites are, even find a Luther quote or two about the support of good government. It might do something to break the Shirer myth.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Isreal has as much right to that land as the United States has to the land we possess. And calling Israel racist is just buying into a load of crap resonating from people pissed they lost a war, a war they started with the avowed goal to drive every Jew into the sea.
    Yet for those interested, there are Arabs and Palestinians who are actually citizens of Israel and do get to vote in their elections. There are just many of them who refuse to go with the politcal process.
    but if you want to support mass genocide, go ahead and play along with the PCUSA.
    A good Idea for the Missouri Synod though, would be to issue a statement in support of Israel at this time, which might show the world who the real anti-Semites are, even find a Luther quote or two about the support of good government. It might do something to break the Shirer myth.

  • WebMonk

    JoeS – that’s exactly what I mean. Divestment is one thing. What the Simon Wiesenthal Center is claiming they are saying is a whole ‘nuther ball game. Liberal positions are one thing; shifting to a hard-core, Ahmedinejab-like position is so wildly different that I find it hard to believe.

  • WebMonk

    JoeS – that’s exactly what I mean. Divestment is one thing. What the Simon Wiesenthal Center is claiming they are saying is a whole ‘nuther ball game. Liberal positions are one thing; shifting to a hard-core, Ahmedinejab-like position is so wildly different that I find it hard to believe.

  • http://howtobeagodlymanlyman.blogspot.com JoeS

    WebMonk – I’m on board with what you’re saying. I also remembered there was an uproar about a statement that came out about the same time as the divestment press release that had changed some “potentially anti-Semitic” language into “most likely anti-Semitic” language.

    I still don’t know where the Simon Wiesenthal Center would get a ‘not-yet released’ press release.

  • http://howtobeagodlymanlyman.blogspot.com JoeS

    WebMonk – I’m on board with what you’re saying. I also remembered there was an uproar about a statement that came out about the same time as the divestment press release that had changed some “potentially anti-Semitic” language into “most likely anti-Semitic” language.

    I still don’t know where the Simon Wiesenthal Center would get a ‘not-yet released’ press release.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The Jews are a remarkably talented people who are envied and hated all over the world. Wherever they go, they tend to rise to the top. The Arabs have had a particularly vicious hatred for the Jews, well demonstrated during WWII when they allied with Hitler.

    As to modern Israel, George Gilder writes that it … has become one of the most important economies in the world, and is second only to the United States in its pioneering of technologies benefitting human life, prosperity, and peace.

    The state of Israel is perfectly legitimate.

    Jewish people gave the world ethical monotheism and its Savior. The liberal Presbyterian view of Israel is based on profound ignorance.

  • Peter Leavitt

    The Jews are a remarkably talented people who are envied and hated all over the world. Wherever they go, they tend to rise to the top. The Arabs have had a particularly vicious hatred for the Jews, well demonstrated during WWII when they allied with Hitler.

    As to modern Israel, George Gilder writes that it … has become one of the most important economies in the world, and is second only to the United States in its pioneering of technologies benefitting human life, prosperity, and peace.

    The state of Israel is perfectly legitimate.

    Jewish people gave the world ethical monotheism and its Savior. The liberal Presbyterian view of Israel is based on profound ignorance.

  • DonS

    The note of caution being sounded here regarding this alleged release is probably a good one. It’s hard to believe even the PCUSA would issue something this radical. I can understand a neutral stance, or a divestment strategy related to the so-called “military-industrial complex”, but to unreservedly decry Israel’s very right to exist, to denounce any claim they have to the historical land God gave His chosen people, and to one-sidedly condemn Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians while not also condemning Arab treatment of Jews and Christians strikes me as far too radical even for one of our very silly mainline Protestant denominations. Such a declaration would complete their descent into utter irrelevance.

  • DonS

    The note of caution being sounded here regarding this alleged release is probably a good one. It’s hard to believe even the PCUSA would issue something this radical. I can understand a neutral stance, or a divestment strategy related to the so-called “military-industrial complex”, but to unreservedly decry Israel’s very right to exist, to denounce any claim they have to the historical land God gave His chosen people, and to one-sidedly condemn Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians while not also condemning Arab treatment of Jews and Christians strikes me as far too radical even for one of our very silly mainline Protestant denominations. Such a declaration would complete their descent into utter irrelevance.

  • Peter Leavitt

    George Gilder is probably the ablest American writer who understands the contribution, historically and at present, of the Jews to religion and civilization. A good introduction to Gilders view is Capitalism, Jewish Achievement, and the Israel Test including:

    Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good.
    In his book Human Accomplishment Murray focused on the fact that the three-tenths of 1 percent of the world population that is Jewish has contributed some 25 percent of notable human intellectual accomplishment in the modern period. Murray cites the historical record:

    In the first half of the twentieth century, despite pervasive and continuing social discrimination against Jews throughout the Western world, despite the retraction of legal rights, and despite the Holocaust, Jews won 14 percent of Nobel Prizes in literature, chemistry, physics, and medicine/physiology.

  • Peter Leavitt

    George Gilder is probably the ablest American writer who understands the contribution, historically and at present, of the Jews to religion and civilization. A good introduction to Gilders view is Capitalism, Jewish Achievement, and the Israel Test including:

    Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good.
    In his book Human Accomplishment Murray focused on the fact that the three-tenths of 1 percent of the world population that is Jewish has contributed some 25 percent of notable human intellectual accomplishment in the modern period. Murray cites the historical record:

    In the first half of the twentieth century, despite pervasive and continuing social discrimination against Jews throughout the Western world, despite the retraction of legal rights, and despite the Holocaust, Jews won 14 percent of Nobel Prizes in literature, chemistry, physics, and medicine/physiology.

  • G

    PCUSA or CPUSA?

  • G

    PCUSA or CPUSA?

  • WebMonk

    Ok, just to set things straight, I contacted the PCUSA central offices and asked for clarification.

    The report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center is … let’s say “incorrect” if we want to be nice about it, a “total fabrication” if we don’t want to be so polite. This has apparently been a known issue for them because they sent me a rather lengthy letter already written and apparently sent out as a standard statement on the topic, and with excerpts from the coming press release about which the SWC is squawking.

    Here’s just part of their letter. You can hear the annoyance at what is being said:

    “We want to be sure to say to you in no uncertain terms: We support the existence of Israel as a sovereign nation within secure and recognized borders. No “but,” no “let’s get this out of the way so we can say what we really want to say.” We support Israel’s existence as granted by the U.N. General Assembly. We support Israel’s existence as a home for the Jewish people. We have said this before, and we say this again. We say it because we believe it; we say it because we want it to continue to be true.”

    Sorry Dr. Veith, I’m afraid you picked up a piece of rather slimy rabble-rousing. You aren’t the only one to have been sucked in though.

  • WebMonk

    Ok, just to set things straight, I contacted the PCUSA central offices and asked for clarification.

    The report by the Simon Wiesenthal Center is … let’s say “incorrect” if we want to be nice about it, a “total fabrication” if we don’t want to be so polite. This has apparently been a known issue for them because they sent me a rather lengthy letter already written and apparently sent out as a standard statement on the topic, and with excerpts from the coming press release about which the SWC is squawking.

    Here’s just part of their letter. You can hear the annoyance at what is being said:

    “We want to be sure to say to you in no uncertain terms: We support the existence of Israel as a sovereign nation within secure and recognized borders. No “but,” no “let’s get this out of the way so we can say what we really want to say.” We support Israel’s existence as granted by the U.N. General Assembly. We support Israel’s existence as a home for the Jewish people. We have said this before, and we say this again. We say it because we believe it; we say it because we want it to continue to be true.”

    Sorry Dr. Veith, I’m afraid you picked up a piece of rather slimy rabble-rousing. You aren’t the only one to have been sucked in though.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Many thanks, Webmonk, for taking this step and getting this statement. I’ll post a correction. But what did they say about the source of what the Simon Wiesenthal Center is referring to? Is there a committee report or a draft document, neither of which have been approved by the church body? What is the Simon Wiesenthal Center quoting? Are they saying this respected Jewish advocacy group has forged a document?

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Many thanks, Webmonk, for taking this step and getting this statement. I’ll post a correction. But what did they say about the source of what the Simon Wiesenthal Center is referring to? Is there a committee report or a draft document, neither of which have been approved by the church body? What is the Simon Wiesenthal Center quoting? Are they saying this respected Jewish advocacy group has forged a document?

  • kerner

    Forgive me for being cranky about this, but why should any Christian denomination be supporting, or condemning, the existence of any particular sovereign nation with secure borders? Or calling on the U.N. to establish these things?

    Do the Presbyterians similarly support the existence, sovereignty and security of Czechoslovakia? Taiwan? Tibet? Kurdistan? Georgia? Kosovo? Scotland? or any number of “nations” that have been, are now, or may want to be, sovereign, secure and in existence?

  • kerner

    Forgive me for being cranky about this, but why should any Christian denomination be supporting, or condemning, the existence of any particular sovereign nation with secure borders? Or calling on the U.N. to establish these things?

    Do the Presbyterians similarly support the existence, sovereignty and security of Czechoslovakia? Taiwan? Tibet? Kurdistan? Georgia? Kosovo? Scotland? or any number of “nations” that have been, are now, or may want to be, sovereign, secure and in existence?


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