The Presbyterians don’t speak for me

I’m not quite sure what Israel did to the Presbyterians, but it must have been pretty bad.

Take the recent Zionism Unsettled report released by the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s quasi-official “Israel Palestine Mission Network.” Glossy, high-color, and bundled with a nifty DVD, the report provides “an invaluable guide to deeper understanding” of what just might be the universe’s most important conflict.

Its conclusion is straightforward: Zionism is the ultimate source of the world’s problems and those Jews and Christians who support Jewish sovereignty (or should I say “the Zionist quest for demographic control of the land”) are no better than war criminals for sanctioning Israel’s colonization of the Palestinian homeland.

The Presbyterians who drafted this shameless polemic have one goal in mind: to sway delegates who will be attending the PC-USA’s June assembly to vote in favor of divesting from Israel. A similar measure was narrowly defeated in 2012; this year’s vote is expected to be just as close.

The good news for Israelis is that not all Christians, not all Protestants, not all Reformed churches, and not even all Presbyterians support this heinous initiative. We’re talking about a small, albeit loud and powerful, faction within Christianity that – for whatever reason – has nothing better to do than to criticize the Jewish state. Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, and North Korea no doubt look on with mild amusement.

The bad news is that, while the brazen anti-Israel camp in the church is small, a growing number of Christians have been stepping back their support for Israel in favor of a more “balanced” position that tends to castigate Jewish “oppression” while raising the banner of Palestinian nationalism. I have detailed the various causes underlying this new movement in a recent article entitled “Evangelicals and Israel: What American Jews Don’t Want to Know (but Need to).”

I encourage everyone, whether Christian or Jewish, to read the article and investigate what’s going on. Although my Jewish readers may have little interest in a case of intra-Christian squabbling, I submit that this case merits attention by anyone who believes in the necessity of preserving the State of Israel.

In the meantime, Israelis should note that the Presbyterian church doesn’t speak for me. It doesn’t speak for lots of Christians around the world.

Heck, it doesn’t even speak for all Presbyterians.

About the Author
Robert Nicholson is a recent Tikvah Fellow and former Marine who researches law, religion, and the relationship between Christians and Jews. He holds a JD and MA in history from Syracuse University and a BA in Hebrew Studies from SUNY Binghamton, and has published articles in, among other places, Mosaic Magazine, The Jerusalem Post, and The Libya Herald. He lives with his wife Lyndsey and daughter Brooke in New York City.
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