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The Church of Anti-Semitism By: P. David Hornik
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, April 29, 2005

The United Church of Christ appears set to hop on the bandwagon of mainline Protestant initiatives to divest from Israel.

Since the Presbyterians’ resolution last July, which called for “selective phased divestment” from companies operating in Israel, the idea has also gained traction among Anglicans, Episcopalians, and Methodists. The Presbyterians, for their part, have now persuaded the Geneva-based World Council of Churches to encourage its member churches to pursue divestment as well.

On April 21, the website of the United Church of Christ posted two resolutions by its General Synod calling for divestment. They are steeped in what can at best be called abysmal ignorance and bias.


“This resolution,” one of them claims, “requires the United Church of Christ’s Corporate Social Responsibility Ministry to begin the process of divestment from companies involved with Israel’s illegal (by UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338) occupations of the West Bank and Gaza. . . . During the era of apartheid in South Africa, the United Church of Christ, along with other . . . organizations, successfully used divestment . . . . we [now] urge the use of selective divestment in bringing justice to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. . . . the United Church of Christ has repeatedly affirmed that the State of Israel has a right to exist, and that the Palestinian people also have a right to their own state, whether it is through a one-state or two-state solution. . . . we condemn the violence on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but also believe that the roots of terrorism begin in the unjust and inequitable situation in Israel/Palestine. . . .”


The other resolution chimes in: “Israeli governments and Zionist expansionist organizations—in the almost sixty years since the United Nations’ sanction of their settlement in a part of historical Palestine—have progressively dispossessed the lands and property of Palestinians, who have maintained an historic presence and retain deep roots in the land. . . .”


A fact-checker would have a field day with the above statements. One might begin by listing these (and many other) problems:

  • Resolution 242 nowhere says that Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza is “illegal”; it does call for “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories [not the or all territories—a crucial and deliberate wording that is lost on the Synod] occupied in the recent conflict,” but only in tandem with the “termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries”—something that does not precisely accord with the genocidal and politicidal declarations that are made constantly and openly by the Palestinian actors Israel has to contend with. (“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it. . . . There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. . . .—from the charter of Hamas, which won the recent Palestinian municipal elections in a landslide. “The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time. . . . The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national duty . . . and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine”—from the never-revoked Palestinian National Covenant of Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas’s PLO.)  
  • The equation with South Africa is either willfully malevolent or based on gross ignorance of the status of Israeli Arabs as fully participating citizens of a democracy with ample representation in the Knesset, and of the transfer to the Palestinian Authority of civil authority over the lives of almost all the Palestinians of the territories.
  • The reference to a “one-state solution” directly and immediately contradicts the “affirmation” of Israel’s “right to exist,” positing as it does the dissolution of the world’s sole Jewish state into a Jewish-Arab one as an acceptable “solution” to the conflict.
  • The statement locating the “roots of terrorism . . . in the unjust and inequitable situation in Israel/Palestine” is a legitimization, by a body vested with a spiritual and moral status, of mass murder by anyone claiming a political or ideological justification for it.
  • The claim that Israel has “progressively dispossessed the lands and property of Palestinians” would be true if since before the moment of its birth the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world had not—while rejecting hands-down the Palestinian state called for in 1947 by the United Nations—waged a relentless onslaught of warfare, terrorism, boycott, incitement, and hatred against Israel that forced it to take actions to defend itself rather than existing peacefully in the very modest boundaries that the UN—but not the Arab or Muslim worlds—was willing to grant it.

As James Hutchins, a UCC activist who opposes the resolutions, points out, “Both of [them] were constructed with a clear bias against Israel and are functionally anti-Semitic.” And in a statement released on April 21 by the Judeo-Christian Alliance, an initiative of the Boston-based David Project, its director Dexter Zan Zile—also a member of the UCC—notes that, “Both resolutions are written as if occupation was the cause of Palestinian violence. Palestinian violence is the cause of the occupation. . . . The Palestinian violence against Israel takes place in the context of a worldwide Jihad intended to impose religious apartheid on non-Muslims. Hamas’s constitution makes that plain.”


The president of the Jewish-Christian Alliance, Dennis Hale, said the UCC resolutions were based on an ignorance that is “inexcusable because the truth is readily available to anyone who will look for it; but in its zeal to demonize Israel, the UCC, like other mainline Protestant denominations, has taken the fatal steps from willful ignorance to appeasement and then to active collaboration with the real enemies of peace. . . . Their actions bring shame on Christians everywhere.”


In the aftermath of World War II, mainline churches like the Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopalian, United Church of Christ, and others reformed the theology of contempt toward Jews and Judaism and seemingly ushered in a new era. But following the Six Day War they grew more and more critical of Israel while buying more and more into Palestinian victimology. One factor was the mainliners’ personal comradeship with Palestinian Christians that grew out of frequent visits; another was their fierce antipathy on a range of issues to the Evangelicals, known for their support for Israel. The result is that mainline churches are reverting to age-old practices of vilifying Jews, accepting their enemies’ lies and distortions at face value, and singling out their state—alone on the world stage with its many thuggish and murderous regimes—for discriminatory treatment.


The mainline churches could, of course, be more critical and careful about the claims of their Palestinian brethren; and their rivalry with the Evangelicals is not a reason to dump on the Jews. Then again, some old habits die hard.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Jerusalem whose work has appeared in many Israeli, Jewish, and political publications. Reach him at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva. He blogs at http://pdavidhornik.typepad.com/. He can be reached at pdavidh2001@yahoo.com.

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