Israel, Palestinians & Mid-East

Dialogika Resources

Presbyterian Church USA Proposes Biased Report on Israel

A Statement from United Synagogue About the Proposed Report on Israel Prepared for the Presbyterian Church Convention in July, 2010

This July, the Presbyterian Church USA will consider a report and recommendations from a special committee (MESC, the Middle East Study Committee) that could severely damage its relationship with the Jewish people. This committee was charged with providing a balanced examination of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. Instead it produced a document that is distinctly one-sided, traffics in troubling theology, wildly distorts history, and crosses the boundary separating legitimate debate about Israel’s policies from anti-Semitism. Read the full MESC report .

  • The MESC speaks down to the Jewish community, admonishing mainstream Jewish groups to “catch up” to fringe groups, including one, Jewish Voices for Peace, that doesn’t endorse a two-state solution and that welcomes anti-Zionist Jews. This is a profound insult.

  • The MESC embraces a disturbing theology that negates the use of any biblical claim to justify the modern state of Israel, but conflates biblical and modern Israel to demand that the modern state meet biblical standards.

  • The MESC is an apologia for terror, blaming Israel for the violence it endures. There is a complete failure to address pre-occupation Arab and Palestinian violence, rejectionism, and aggression. The report says: “If there were no occupation, there would be no Palestinian resistance. If there was no Palestinian resistance, Israelis could live in peace and security.”

  • The MESC describes Israel’s and Iran’s nuclear capabilities as equally threatening to world peace. After discussing Iran’s nuclear program, the report continues: “…an equal concern is the number of nuclear warheads that Israel currently stockpiles and thus the growing sense of Iranian vulnerability and insecurity. While Israel will not confirm its possession of nuclear weapons or the number held, it is generally agreed that Israel has stockpiled close to 100 nuclear weapons.”

  • The MESC misrepresents Jewish history: “to state that present day Israelis are returning after two or three millennia to their ancestral home in Palestine and that they uniquely are the descendants of the Jews of Palestine is not supported by scientific evidence.”

  • The MESC praises the virulently anti-Israel Kairos Palestinian document, ignoring its considerable anti-Israel content. The Kairos document employs retrograde theology that has been rejected by most Christians as supercessionist. It refers to Palestinian terror as “legal resistance,” and calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.

  • The MESC risks harming America’s ally Israel by calling on the United States government to consider withholding aid. It calls on the U.S. to exercise influence and possibly withhold aid to “bring Israel to compliance with international law and peacemaking efforts.” No similar condition is placed on Palestinian aid.

  • The MESC describes Israel as the major impediment to peace while justifying the opposition of the Palestinians to the existence of the State of Israel that preceded the post 1967 settlements. “…the major issue for a just peace is the continued occupation that has been ongoing for the past forty-three years”.

  • The MESC furthers the toxic BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement by criticizing and singling out the Caterpillar Company for selling to its dealers in Israel. The document presses Caterpillar to review carefully its position as an obstacle to a just and lasting peace in Israel-Palestine and to take affirmative steps to end its complicity in the violation of human rights. The Presbyterian Church is attempting to punish a company for refusing to participate in a boycott that the company has been advised would be illegal.

For more background information on the Presbyterian Church USA’s Middle East Study Committee Report, please see this attached report produced by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

We urge our rabbis and congregational leaders to familiarize themselves with the content of the MESC report and to appreciate the significance of its adoption by the church, should that be allowed to happen. United Synagogue will help to develop educational programs. This will allow us to approach our Presbyterian friends and delegates to the July convention, and advocate for the defeat of the MESC report there.

We believe that the Middle East conflict can be resolved with the kind of two-state solution that is promoted by moderates in Israel and among the Palestinian leadership and has been endorsed by most world leaders and the United Nations. It is important for the extremists on both sides of the conflict to recognize and accept this reality. The United Nations recognized the State of Israel in 1948 and the government of Israel has recognized the rights of Palestinians to a state of their own. Until that agreement is finalized, Israel has the ethical imperative to defend its citizens against terrorist attacks and provide for their security. It is a tragic consequence of this conflict that innocent people on both sides continue to suffer.

This disproportionate condemnation of Israel and appalling distortions of history do a disservice to the peace process. They are an injustice to fair-minded Presbyterians everywhere. We urge the convention to reject these biased findings and recommendations.