Late last week the Middle East Study Committee of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) issued the first part of what promises to be a damning, anti-Israel analysis of the Arab-Israeli conflict and a few light divest-from-Israel urgings. The rest of the report, which will include recommendations the committee suggests be taken “with our partners in the Middle East and the United States,” will be released later this week. Lest anyone hold his or her breath till then, it is worth noting that in 2004 the PC(USA) became the only religious body in the United States to take up a divestment campaign against the Jewish state. The campaign was only repealed after it rightly drew ire from Christians and Jews alike.
The material that has been released so far is nothing new. It is the same tired rhetoric of human rights abuse and “occupation” that has been hurled at Israel and her supporters for years—all of it, sadly, nothing more than a way of saying Israel should not exist. We hear, for example, the rest of the report advocates for the Palestinian “right of return,” a concept which demographically alone renders null and void the concept of a Jewish homeland.
A comparison of the letter the committee has written to “Our Palestinian Friends” and the one it has written to “Our Israeli Friends” shows a stark one-sidedness. The first note has the tone an admonishing parent might use when chiding a child about not picking up his toys or sneaking an extra cookie before dinner. The second, to the Israelis with whom the PC(USA) is supposedly so friendly, is full of references to Israel’s “dehumanization” of Palestinians, “violations of human rights” and “incumbent violence.”
Nowhere in either letter does the word “terrorism” or any of its derivatives appear. The only passage in which one can deduce terrorism is being mentioned is the following feeble wrist-tap of a paragraph: “We still see the occupation as the major obstacle to regional stability, and to the just solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We do not see it as the only obstacle. Being oppressed does not justify using the means of the oppressor; nor does suffering from the breach of international law permit similar breaches, even if smaller in scale.”
So “occupation” of lands tactically won in a defensive war is still the “main obstacle” to peace? Since the creation of the modern state of Israel, more than 1,600 Israelis have been murdered by Arab terrorists. But apparently this does not constitute a stumbling block on the path to coexistence. We are similarly confused by the “means of the oppressor” line. Since when does the Israeli military use explosive devices strapped to suicide bombers to murder civilians in pizza shops, at checkpoints and in cafes?
Judging from this first part of the PC(USA) report, it will come as no surprise when the remainder of the supposed analysis recommends strangling Israel economically through the undertaking of yet another ill-conceived and backward divestment policy.