web analytics
July 29, 2015 / 13 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


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.

Current Top Story
The White House will free Pollard but bar him from traveling to Israel for five years.
US Won’t Let Pollard Out of Country for Five Years
Latest Indepth Stories

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

Pollard was a Jewish-head-on-a-pike for all American Jews to see and to learn the explicit lesson.

If the Iran deal passes, Obama’s WH becomes world’s leading financier of terrorism against Americans

{Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through} Some passionate and eloquent liberals have bemoaned the state of inclusiveness among Jews today. Leon Wieseltier, editor of the New Republic penned an angry piece “J Street’s Rejection Is a Scandal” about the exclusion in 2014 of J Street from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. […]

Magnanimity by Moshe Dayan, allowing Muslim control of the Temple Mount, led to today’s situation.

It was modeled upon a similar fund that had been set up by Sephardic Jews in Venice. But Amsterdam’s Dotar was initially more ambitious in scope.

Rav Aharon Margalit is a bestselling author – his book, As Long As I Live, has been translated into four languages – and a standing-room only lecturer. Both religious and non-religious audiences flock to hear him. What makes him so extraordinary? Rav Margalit is a Chasidic Jew who experienced incredible challenges from a very young […]

J Street is the vanguard (Jewish face)in support of Obama’s Vienna Accords Nuclear Deal with Iran

“I hold the woman’s place over that of men in every fundamental aspect of public and private life.”

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: