web analytics
September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Why Birmingham Matters


Something special happened in Birmingham, Alabama last week. Very few Jews realize how important it was.

Two years ago, the Presbyterian Church-USA (PCUSA) became the first mainline Protestant denomination to vote for a process of divestment from companies doing business in Israel. Last week, 94 percent of the delegates to its General Assembly approved a resolution that replaced the language of divestment from Israel with a call for investment in peaceful pursuits. It affirmed Israel’s right to defend itself. A preamble to the document offered apologies to the Jewish people for the hurt they suffered from a resolution they called “flawed.” They followed up with a resolution asking that suicide terror be considered a crime against humanity, further distancing themselves from the wishes of their church’s leaders.

Why is this important, even momentous? Divestment has been the cornerstone of a worldwide campaign to punish the Jewish state for the “sins” of “occupation.” It is not the economic impact that is crucial to those behind the campaign so much as popularizing a potent falsehood. Divestment caught on in a big way with regard to one major human rights abuser – white-ruled South Africa. The proponents of divestment want the American public to equate Jerusalem with an apartheid, illegal colonialist oppressor state.

Unfortunately, many people believe this. It’s a view that’s quite prevalent in Europe and on many American campuses. But until 2004, such corrosive and dangerous rhetoric had not penetrated America’s heartland.

The PCUSA resolution of two years ago changed that, and directly led to every other major Protestant denomination either following suit or considering following suit. This is exactly what the anti-Israel lobby wanted. Anti-Israel activists even have an acronym for their strategy – BDS, which stands for boycott, divestment, and sanctions.

Arab websites have cited the divestment resolution as proof that even the Americans are beginning to come around to their perspective. Divestment talk – even without actually withholding a single dollar from companies in Israel – has therefore been used to support the most extreme elements of the Arab world. As former CIA director (and Presbyterian) Jim Woolsey testified before a committee in Birmingham, “A vote for divestment is a vote for Hamas.”

How did things get so bad? To answer this question, we have to examine the many roads that led to Birmingham.

One of them starts in Geneva, home of the World Council of Churches, an international umbrella group that includes all the mainline American Protestant denominations. This group has long been virulently anti-Israel. One of us was told by a candidate for the office of PCUSA moderator that, recently, the WCC fielded twenty-six resolutions regarding human rights violations around the globe. Of those 26 resolutions, 23 were critical of Israel, leaving very few for the entire expanse of a globe awash in bloodshed and oppression, including Arab repression of Christianity, genocide in Sudan, concentration camps in North Korea, and a host of other horrors. The WCC’s monomaniacal animus toward Israel makes it one of the world’s most important and respectable exporters of hatred of the Jewish state and its supporters.

An even darker road starts in Durban, South Africa, where the UN World conference Against Racism was convened just before 9/11. It was there that a consortium of Human Rights groups and other NGOs (non-governmental Organizations) launched a campaign to have Israel declared the “apartheid” regime of the 21st century. While the U.S. and Israel boycotted the hatefest, Jewish delegates were confronted with open hostility by groups supposedly there to promote “civil society.” Jews were subjected to threats and physical intimidation, culminating with a protest by 17,000 Muslims rallying at a banner that read “Hitler should have finished the job.” On that day, police cautioned Jewish delegates that their safety couldn’t be guaranteed if they attempted to walk to the local Jewish community center.

About the Author: Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein is director of interfaith affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean of the Center.


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.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Why Birmingham Matters”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
NY rally against Met Opera's 'Death of Klinghoffer' opera. Sept. 22, 2014.
New York City Site of Huge Rally Against Met’s Klinghoffer Opera
Latest Indepth Stories
William Safire

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

Particularly galling was the complaint by one Jo Anne Simon about Judge Dear’s supposed “mobilizing on behalf of apartheid and his insensitivity to minority communities.”

Whatever one has to say about Iran, it does have clout in the Middle East and the Gulf region and could play a key role in addressing the ISIS threat.

Rav Shlomo Wolbe states that every member of Klal Yisrael is dependent on the entire nation just as a leaf depends on the tree from which it grows.

“Israel must prepare for waves of immigrants from Arab countries, which may endanger its existence”

“I pray that fellow Jews open their eyes & connect themselves to the national side of being a Jew”

The big service ISIS is doing the West right now is checking Iranian power, just as the Sunni rebels inside Syria are keeping the Iranian agent Hezbollah in check, and just as the PLO is keeping Hamas in check, at least to some degree.

Research shows that high doses of marijuana can produce acute psychotic reactions, lower IQ in teens

The current missionary problem in Samaria is still relatively unknown throughout Israel&to most Jews

Rosh Hashanah is a universal, stock-taking, renewal and hopeful holiday,

No mutual clash between parties, it was Jews repeatedly attacked by Arabs, not the other way around.

Israel would love to be in the coalition,but it’s never going to happen, because, in the end, most of America’s allies would walk away if Israel were on board officially.

Why has his death been treated by some as an invitation for an emotional “autopsy”?

SWOT analysis: Assessing resources, internal Strengths&Weaknesses; external Opportunities&Threats.

More Articles from Rabbis Yitzchok Adlerstein and Abraham Cooper
UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon (L) and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (R) during a joint press conference at Abbas' headquarters in Ramallah, 15 August 2013.

Not one world leader holds Abbas accountable for his part in the breakdown of negotiations.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center. Our job is to stay on top of trends around the world, advocating for Jewish and for human-rights causes.

Across Europe, the lid has come off the demons repressed for a few decades after the Holocaust.

The Anglicans are urging their faithful to “educate the church about the impact of illegal settlements” on the West Bank.

A popular aphorism had it that “wie es sich Christelt, so Juedelt es sich” – as things go for Christians, so they go for Jews. In 2013, however, the conditions for some 200 million Christians can be read from the pages of Jewish history.

No Jewish voices were invited as the World Council of Churches (WCC) convened in Bern, Switzerland this month “an international ecumenical debate” to consider the theological issues related to the Holy Land and help it formulate positions regarding “the Promised Land, the Church and Israel, justice and peace.”

Divestment has been the cornerstone of a worldwide campaign to punish the Jewish state for the “sins” of “occupation.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/why-birmingham-matters/2006/06/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: