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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Institute on Religion and Democracy’

Church’s New Study Guide is Textbook Example of Israel Hatred

Friday, February 7th, 2014

It is a standard, if stale, practice for Israel critics to portray themselves as bravely daring to “break the silence” with their public criticism of Israel. It is a passive form of aggressive manipulation, and it continues, because it seems to work.

One of the practitioners of this pretend courage is the Presbyterian Church (USA). A current manifestation of that role playing by the PCUSA is an ugly attack on Israel, masquerading as a “study guide,” called Zionism Unsettled.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) has long been regarded as a church hostile to Israel as a Jewish State. It typically dresses up that hostility as loving concern for the Arab population within Israel and in the disputed territories.

PAST DIVESTMENT VOTES

In 2004, the church voted to approach corporations that “aiding Israel’s occupation of the West Bank,” and asking them to reconsider business with the Jewish state. This position was repeatedly reaffirmed in subsequent votes.

In July of 2012, the PCUSA brought to a vote another resolution targeting Israel. That divestment resolution was directed at companies which “sell military equipment to the Israeli military in the West Bank” was defeated by only two votes 331 – 333 – with two abstentions.

FINANCIAL AND OTHER SUPPORT FOR MESSIANIC CHURCHES

The PCUSA has exhibited its hostility to Judaism in other ways in recent years as well. For a time it directly funded efforts by “Jews for Jesus” to hoodwink, proselytize and convert Jews to Christianity.

For example, in 2004, the Philadelphia area Presbytery poured more than $250,000 into launching a church masquerading as a synagogue. The church was set up in a church at the Plymouth Meeting Mall, and the congregation was named Avodat Yisrael.

An exposé in the Wall Street Journal that fall revealed the congregation leader, Rev. Andrew Sparks, publicly and falsely claimed he was a rabbi. By 2005 the Presbytery chose to discontinue funding what they had called its “new church development.” Nevertheless, the congregation continued as a messianic church, under the name “Messiah Now Ministries,” with Rev. Sparks as its leader.

PCUSA’S LATEST UNSETTLING ATTACK

The PCUSA’s latest attack, its “teaching guide,” made available through its online store, is a doozy.

This new guide, Zionism Unsettled, has accomplished one neat feat thus far, however. It has united Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel in their immediate and unequivocal denunciations.

Zionism Unsettled is a 74 page booklet and comes with accompanying DVD which PCUSA says is a “how-to guide for class leaders with focused discussion prompts.” It is being marketed as an “ideal resource for multi-week exploratory educational programs in churches, synagogues, mosques and all classroom settings, faith-based or secular.”

Ah yes. Surely they are trying to use this booklet to explain, as they claim, “what steps can be taken to bring peace, reconciliation and justice to the homeland that Palestinians and Israelis share?”

But one of the quotes from a church leader makes clear exactly what the PCUSA is trying to do by promoting this booklet.

Walter Brueggemann, professor emeritus at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, remarks “The urgency of the Palestinian plight in the face of Israeli intransigence indicates that intentional, concrete and sustained public action is necessary to respond credibly to the crisis. Zionism Unsettled is a welcome study guide. It will prove an effective vehicle for helping to mobilize public opinion so that both attitudes and policies can be transformed in the face of an imperious and exploitative ideology.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center knows exactly what the PCUSA is up to with its latest anti-Israel effort.

“This outrageous screed is the theological twin of the infamous 1975 UN ‘Zionism is Racism’ resolution,” charged Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the SWC.

Anti-Israel Church Groups Slam Scarlett and SodaStream

Friday, January 31st, 2014

While most Israel supporters were celebrating the rebuff of Oxfam International and the rest of the anti-Israel crowd by movie actress Scarlett Johansson, several anti-Israel church groups had the opposite reaction.

When SodaStream, the company that produces a home-use product to make carbonated drinks, announced that Johansson was its new spokesperson a few weeks ago, members of the BDS movement – Boycott of, Divestment from and Sanctions against Israel – cried foul.  SodaStream has been a popular target of the BDS crowd both because it has a manufacturing plant in the disputed territories and because it is a highly visible product.

It doesn’t matter to the BDS crowd that, as Johansson pointed out, SodaStream employs large numbers of Palestinian Arabs who are paid the same salaries and receive the same benefits as do Israeli workers.  The BDS crowd would prefer those Arabs join the huge percentage of unemployed amongst their brethren.

The church groups involved in the BDS crowd include the Palestinian liberation theology group Sabeel, and several agencies and caucuses within the United Methodist Church, along with the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the United Church of Christ Palestine/Israel Network and the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, all of which are members of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO).

Anti-Israel church groups sought to pass a divestment resolution at the United Methodist General Conference and Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly in 2012.  The measure failed, but informed observers such as those at the Institute on Religion and Democracy anticipate another divestment measure will be introduced and voted on at this years General Assembly which will be held in Detroit, Michigan in June.

“It is revealing that Israel is the only country targeted for divestment,” IRD President Mark Tooley commented on anti-Israel activity by certain church groups.

“Why are these church activists typically silent on grievous violations in Syria, Egypt and bombings in Kenya and Nigeria? Is the focus here on human rights violations, or is it actually opposition to Israel?”

For those unfamiliar with some of those anti-Israel church groups, just consider what members of that anti-Israel church group Friends of Sabeel came up with to sing at a seminar held at the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. in November, 2012, as reported at the IRD site:

“When Zionists Came to Palestine” (Tune: When Israel was in Egypt land)

When Zionists came to Palestine, Free Palestinians now. They said, “let all the land be mine,” Free Palestinians now. Tell all Israel, end the occupation now. Israel, Bibi, end the occupation now.

“Ode to Liberation” (Tune: Ode to Joy)

Israel, end your occupation,
There’s no peace on stolen land.
Well sing out for liberation,
‘till you hear and understand
Ethnic cleansing and apartheid
should belong to history.
Human rights cannot be silenced,
Palestine will soon be free.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/anti-israel-church-groups-slam-scarlett-and-sodastream/2014/01/31/

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