web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Real Friends And Real Enemies


Share Button

Two years ago, American Jewish community relations groups were busy patting themselves on the back for achieving a signal victory in turning back the attempt by anti-Israel radicals to hijack the Presbyterian Church USA.

After the Presbyterians became the first Protestant church to embrace divestment from companies doing business in Israel in 2004, Jewish groups worked hard to overturn the decision. When the church voted to back away from this stand in 2006, it was rightly seen as a triumph not just for friends of Israel but also for the tactic of outreach itself as years of tenacious diplomacy paid off.

The celebrations seem to have been premature.

The release of a document by the church last month titled “Vigilance Against Anti-Jewish Bias in the Pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian Peace” was supposed to help its members guard against anti-Semitic rhetoric when discussing the Middle East.

Instead, it is a compendium of charges aimed at deligimitizing the Jewish state.

The document avoids discussing Arab support for terrorism and, rather than serve as a warning against bias, it serves as a justification for anti-Israel invective since it places blame for the conflict solely on Israel rather than on those attempting to destroy it.

In itself, this should justify the outrage and the feelings of betrayal that have been voiced by a wide spectrum of centrist and liberal Jewish denominations and organizations that worked to reverse the previous Presbyterian stand on Israel.

But also buried in the document is a strand of thought that is relevant not only to this battle for the soul of a powerful mainline liberal Protestant church but to the mindset of American Jews as well,

Amid a laundry list of anti-Israel measures in the Presbyterian statement — including opposition to the security fence that effectively ended the Palestinian suicide bombing campaign – is the assertion that “Christian faithfulness, as well as the policies of our church, demands that we maintain our commitments … to criticize forms of Christian Zionism.”

That means that in the same document in which they urge members to avoid couching attacks on Israel in ways that could be labeled anti-Semitic, the Presbyterians specifically attack fellow Christians who have lent their support to the idea that the Jewish people have a right to sovereignty over their historic homeland.

In particular, they singled out evangelicals such as Pastor John Hagee, who was flogged out of the camp of Republican presidential candidate John McCain for saying the Holocaust was caused by the Jewish sin of failing to make aliyah.

To support the contention that Christian Zionists are wrongheaded, the Presbyterian document cited Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the leader of the Union for Reform Judaism, who in a December 2007 speech warned Jews to avoid alliances with the pro-Israel Christian right.

Yoffie, whose Reform movement joined the coalition of Jewish groups that condemned the Presbyterian reversal, is not happy about this. He told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he is “infuriated” about the Presbyterians “embedding” his words in a “doctrine that is so hostile to Israel.”

While some of Yoffie’s criticisms of Hagee are not completely off-target — particularly his reaction to Hagee’s foolish talk about the Holocaust, for which the pastor has since apologized — the Reform leader is right to be embarrassed.

But rather than merely being annoyed by the church’s chutzpah, he ought to be rethinking his own bashing of right-wing Christian Zionists.

Indeed, the Presbyterians’ renewed flirtation with anti-Zionism should serve as a wake-up call for the vast number of American Jews who have clung to their prejudices about evangelicals, despite the sea change in the Protestant world that has occurred in the last generation.

In the past, Jews instinctively looked to mainline liberal Protestant churches, like the Presbyterians, the Methodists, Lutherans and Anglicans (all of whom been debating divestment measures against Israel in recent years) as allies. At the same time, Jews generally assumed that evangelicals, who generally lived outside the coastal urban enclaves where Jewish life has thrived in America, tended to be anti-Semitic.

But in the America of 2008, it is the evangelicals of the Christian right who are instinctively supportive of Israel, while our traditional allies on the Christian left are flirting with a theology that demonizes Israel and the Jews.

Share Button

About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

No Responses to “Real Friends And Real Enemies”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
FBI Wanted poster for Osama bin Laden
Pakistan Library Renamed to Honor bin Laden
Latest Indepth Stories
matza

If itis a mitzva to eat matza all Pesach, then why is there no berakha attached to it?

Masked Palestinian Authority Arabs hurl blocks at Israel Police during and after "worship" at Temple Mount mosque. (archive photo)

When we are united with unconditional love, no stone will be raised against us by our enemies.

Haredim riot after draft-dodger is arrested.

The reporter simply reports the news, but it is greater to be inspired to better the situation.

Bitton-041814

The Big Bang theory marked the scientific community’s first sense of the universe having a beginning.

Freeing convicted murderers returns the status of Jewish existence to something less than sanctified.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall” describes what God had in mind for Olmert.

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

More Articles from Jonathan S. Tobin
Mahmoud Abbas, acting leader of the Palestinian Authority

To admit Israel is a Jewish State would undo Arabs’ claimed victimhood and plans to eliminate Israel.

Robert Malley

When it became known in May 2008 that Malley had met with Hamas terrorists, the Obama campaign severed ties with him.

Friedman has been writing the same column for decades in which he asks Israelis whether they will leave the “West Bank.”

Issuing a statement dredging up Wildstein’s life, Christie’s office raised as many questions as it answered.

No matter how wrong Israel’s leaders may think their American counterparts are, little good comes from public spats.

Lieberman has repeatedly dismissed the Palestinian Authority as not being a peace partner.

This is a political version of replacement theology.

Like Chamberlain, Obama sued the ayatollahs for peace, insisting the only alternative to appeasement is war.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/real-friends-and-real-enemies/2008/07/02/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: