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Presbyterian Church Breaks Faith with Jewish Community


The Presbyterian Church USA's vote to divest from companies doing business in Israel fractured the long standing relationship between the two faith communities causing wounds that will be slow to heal.

Photo Credit: Presbyterian Church USA.

In the same sense that French statesman Georges Clemanceau announced that war was too important to be left to the generals, the Presbyterian Church USA just showed the world that political morality is too important to be left to the churches - well, at least the New Age leftist churches.

At its Detroit conference, the church’s governing body voted, by a razor-thin margin of seven votes, to divest from three companies that provide equipment to Israel. Even the most amateurish observer of the New York Stock Exchange knows that the entire PCUSA’s holdings in Caterpillar, for example, do not comprise 3 percent of the company’s daily trading.

Photo Credit: Presbyterian Church USA. Photo Credit: Presbyterian Church USA.

The only impact the PCUSA’s divestiture will realistically have is to give symbolic affirmation to those who have found simple and ahistorical solutions to complex problems. But whatever "good feeling" warms over the people who voted for divestiture, it comes at the cost of rupturing long-standing relations with the Jewish community that will take a long time to heal.

Relations between the two faith communities - long known for sharing common interests - began to unravel when a leftist advocacy group within the PCUSA published a study guide titled, “Zionism Unsettled," which denied the legitimacy, history, and theological underpinnings of the modern Zionist movement. The Jewish community found it ignorant, vicious, and anti-Semitic. The PCUSA denied that it officially endorsed the guide, but it is used throughout its churches, making the denial as offensive as the church’s publication.

The church further offended the Jewish community by embracing the leftist and anti-Zionist Jewish Voice for Peace at its convention. Dressed in black T-shirts emblazed with the slogan, “Another Jew for Divestment," JVP members were conspicuous at the convention. Even within the most leftist and tepid Zionist Jewish communities, like the one in the San Francisco Bay Area, which opens a big tent to incorporate nearly all Jewish religious and political ideologies, the JVP is considered to be neither a voice for peace nor really Jewish, but a front group of radical leftists who use their Jewishness to give legitimacy to Israel’s destruction.

This raised the issue of whether the church was acting as a Christian community, however ignorant of the Middle East, or a community of aging, leftist members of a declining church, who wanted to score one last leftist policy statement under the masquerade of Christ’s followers, just as JVP invoked their Jewishness to fulfill a leftist agenda that had nothing to do with Judaism.

A trail of smoke from rockets fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza toward Israel is seen above Gaza City on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. The militant group Islamic Jihad in Gaza said it fired 20 rockets toward Israel on Wednesday, in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike that killed three of its members the day before. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) A trail of smoke from rockets fired by Palestinian militants from Gaza toward Israel is seen above Gaza City on Wednesday, March 12, 2014. The militant group Islamic Jihad in Gaza said it fired 20 rockets toward Israel on Wednesday, in retaliation for an Israeli airstrike that killed three of its members the day before. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Adding insult to injury, the vote came at a time when Israel is suffering the emotional trauma of trying to find three high school students kidnapped by the terrorist group Hamas. The Palestinians, whom the PCUSA have now embraced, are calling the kidnapping a hoax, as is a United Nations spokesperson, even while Hamas openly takes responsibility for it. News of the vote comes at a time when an innocent Arab-Israeli was shot on the Israeli side of the Syrian border by Syrian troops and rockets are again being launched from Gaza, reflecting the danger with which Israelis constantly live.

The idea that all of the problems between Israel and the Palestinians would go away if the settlements were removed is an idea rooted in unconscionable ignorance. Before there was a single Israeli on the West Bank, there was terrorism and a call for exterminating every Israeli.

The Arabs openly and resolutely described the war of 1948 as a war of extermination. In 1967, when Israel took the West Bank as consequence of Jordanian intervention in Israel’s defensive war with Egypt - one in which she asked the Jordanians not to intervene - Israel waited in vein for a Palestinian gesture for peace. Instead of peace, Israel got the Arab League’s three No’s of Khartoum - no peace, no recognition, and no negotiation.

Since 1939, the Arabs have rejected every opportunity to have an Arab state if it also meant having a Jewish state alongside it. If the Arabs wanted a state, they have had ample opportunity to achieve that goal.

The PCUSA has decided that faced with an implacable enemy that is prideful in its announcement of its attempts to exterminate Jews, Israel has no right to self-defense. The PCUSA has decided that Israel has no right to use the technologies provided by Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola to defend its children from kidnappings, its innocents from suicide bombings and rocket attacks, or its military from those committed to waging perpetual war against it.

Demonstrators wave Israeli flags as they participate in an pro-Israeli demonstration outside of the Israeli embassy in central London on November 15, 2012, which took place amid escalating tensions between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip. The demonstration, along with a counter demonstration by pro-Palestinians, was staged after, according to a Hamas spokesman,the death toll in over 24 hours of Israeli air strikes on Gaza rose to 16, and militants fired more than 380 rockets at Israel, killing three people. Credit: AFP/Getty Images Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Israel unilaterally left Gaza, yielding land for peace. Instead of getting peace the Israelis put their civilian population under the unrelenting attack of Iranian-supplied rockets.

Israel left southern Lebanon, and found that all it did was encourage the Iranian-proxy, Hezbollah, to take up positions from which to harass Israeli civilians and add to the minions now defending the brutal dictatorship of Syria’s Bashir Assad, whose troops recently killed an innocent Arab Israeli.

We all know that the PCUSA will divest, but it will not give up its cell phones using Israeli technology; its mothers and daughters will not give up the Israeli technology that provides a non-invasive test for breast cancer, and its children will not reject the highly effective Israeli-invented blue light treatment for acne. Indeed, the PCUSA will bask in its political correctness, but the medicines, technologies, and discoveries that Israel has given to humanity will not be among the things it boycotts.

As Islam wages an unrelenting brutal war against the remnant of the Christian community in the Middle East, a community that preceded Islam by seven centuries, the PCUSA had absolutely nothing to say about the slaughter of its brethren whether in Egypt, Syria, or Iraq. It had nothing to say about the gays it embraces that are being executed in Iran for the crime of being gay. It had nothing to say about the non-existence of a Presbyterian church anywhere in Saudi Arabia. It had nothing to say about the money flowing from Saudi Arabia and Quatar to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that has taken to killing Christians for the crime of being Christian and is now imposing the dhimmi tax on survivors.

No, the PCUSA could only condemn Israel, and then it wonders why the Jewish community sees this as a vile act of anti-Semitism, unbecoming of real Christians.

Abraham H. Miller is an emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati. He also served on the faculty of the University of California, Davis and the University of Illinois, Urbana.

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