Dexter Van Zile
Dexter Van Zile

Give them their due: UCC leaders in Cleveland have perfect timing

You have to give them credit.

The folks who run the United Church of Christ out of its headquarters in Cleveland picked the perfect time to draw attention to the so-called “peacemaking” resolution that will be debated, and likely approved, at the denomination’s upcoming General Synod scheduled to take place online in mid-July.

The resolution, titled “Declaration for a Just Peace Between Palestine and Israel,”  has been on the denomination’s website for a few months, but was given its first publicity blast on Thursday, May 20, 2021, just as Jews were suffering from antisemitic attacks at the hands of “pro-Palestinian” activists at rallies and public gatherings throughout the world.

The news article promoting the article, which declared that the UCC’s Synod is being asked, “as a matter of faith, to reject oppression of Palestinians,” said nothing about these attacks, but instead repeated the resolution’s litany of accusations against Israel that serve to portray the Jewish state as worthy of being isolated from the community of nations. It’s the perfect message you’d want to broadcast if you are interested in seeing more violence against Jews in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Just perfect!

Like I said, the timing was spectacular. Four days before UCC staffers in Cleveland publicized the resolution on its website, a convoy of pro-Palestinian activists in London used megaphones to chant terrible obscenities and urge violence against Jews.

Two days after that, another convoy of “pro-Palestinian activists” attacked Jews and non-Jews alike at a kosher restaurant in Los Angeles, kicking one of their victims as he lay on the ground.

And the same day the UCC promoted the resolution on its website, Jews were viciously attacked in the Diamond District in New York City.

Maybe the national leaders of the UCC are not all that concerned with public safety and order. At the height of the BLM/Antifa riots last year, staffers who work at the denomination’s headquarters in Cleveland gave a platform to Linda Sarsour, the anti-Israel activist who declared that reform of law enforcement in the U.S. was impossible and that it is necessary to “burn it down.”

She was speaking “figuratively” of course, but a few hours after her comments were broadcast on a UCC webinar, protesters set St. John’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. on fire. Like I said, such exquisite timing!

No, you can’t draw a straight line between Sarsour’s incendiary rhetoric and the firebombing of a church in D.C. last summer.

Still, why are the UCC’s leaders in Cleveland, who fanned the flames of enmity in American society during last summer’s riots, doing the same thing again one year later? Have they learned nothing?

Why, in the midst of a terrible round of anti-Jewish violence in the U.S., Israel, and the rest of the world, are the UCC’s leaders in Cleveland promoting propaganda that will only encourage further attacks on Jews?

The resolution set for approval at the upcoming online synod isn’t likely to have a calming effect on Palestinians or a reassuring effect on Israeli or American Jews. The introductory summary describes the resolution as a “Declaration on the Requirements for a Just Peace Between Palestine and Israel articulating the principles that must be in place and honored in any future just and peaceful relationship between Israel and Palestine.”

Don’t kid yourself. This is not a peace document, but a one-sided bill of particulars that justifies years of Palestinian violence against Israel. The resolution speaks of Palestinians suffering and Israeli wrongdoing but offers not one word of consolation to Israelis nor one word of criticism of Palestinian leaders who have used attacks on Israel to divert people’s attention from their own incompetence, corruption, and disunity.

The resolution asserts that the Palestinians have faced dispossession and displacement but says nothing about the 800,000 Jews forced out of their homes in Arab and Muslim countries in the years after the 1948 war.

It talks about home demolitions, the arrest of children, restrictions on travel, and other depredations suffered by Palestinians and falsely accuses Israel of apartheid, but says nothing about the millions of Israelis, Jew and Arab, who have been forced to hide in basements, saferooms, bomb shelters, and apartment stairwells in the face of thousands of rocket attacks.

If the text’s authors were serious about enunciating the requirements for peace, they would condemn antisemitic and genocidal incitement promoted by both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

They would condemn the PA for paying the salaries of terrorists who kill Israeli civilians.

They would condemn Mahmoud Abbas for praising young men who stabbed and killed Israelis during the “stabbing intifada” a few years back.

But they didn’t.

This was no honest mistake. The folks who wrote this resolution knew what they were doing. They weren’t about peace.

Maybe the pastors who lead local churches and the congregants who pay their salaries will start paying attention and voice their objections to what UCC staffers in Cleveland are doing and insist that the resolution be voted down in July.

The question for the people in the pews and the local pulpits is: do they really want to be part of a church whose national staffers promote incendiary propaganda in the midst of an already raging firestorm of social conflict?

Hopefully not.

About the Author
Dexter Van Zile is Shillman Research Fellow at the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis.
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