Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Refuting Palestinian Lies

"Israel discriminates against its Arab citizens."
Israel is one of the most open societies in the world. Out of a population of 6.7 million, about 1.3 million — 20 percent of the population — are non-Jews (approximately 1.1 million Muslims, 130,000 Christians and 100,000 Druze).1
Arabs in Israel have equal voting rights; in fact, it is one of the few places in the Middle East where Arab women may vote. Arabs currently hold 8 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Israeli Arabs have also held various government posts, including one who served as Israel's ambassador to Finland and the current deputy mayor of Tel Aviv. Oscar Abu Razaq was appointed Director General of the Ministry of Interior, the first Arab citizen to become chief executive of a key government ministry. Ariel Sharon's original cabinet included the first Arab minister, Salah Tarif, aDruze who served as a minister without portfolio. An Arab is also a Supreme Court justice.
Arabic, like Hebrew, is an official language in Israel. More than 300,000 Arab children attend Israeli schools. At the time of Israel's founding, there was one Arab high school in the country. Today, there are hundreds of Arab schools.2
In 2002, the Israeli Supreme Court also ruled that the government cannot allocate land based on religion or ethnicity, and may not prevent Arab citizens from living wherever they choose.2a
The sole legal distinction between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel is that the latter are not required to serve in the Israeli army. This is to spare Arab citizens the need to take up arms against their brethren. Nevertheless, Bedouins have served in paratroop units and other Arabs have volunteered for military duty. Compulsory military service is applied to the Druze and Circassiancommunities at their own request.
Some economic and social gaps between Israeli Jews and Arabs result from the latter not serving in the military. Veterans qualify for many benefits not available to non-veterans. Moreover, the army aids in the socialization process.
On the other hand, Arabs do have an advantage in obtaining some jobs during the years Israelis are in the military. In addition, industries like construction and trucking have come to be dominated by Israeli Arabs.
Although Israeli Arabs have occasionally been involved in terrorist activities, they have generally behaved as loyal citizens. During the 1967, 1973 and 1982 wars, none engaged in any acts of sabotage or disloyalty. Sometimes, in fact, Arabs volunteered to take over civilian functions for reservists. During the outbreak of violence in the territories that began in September 2000, Israeli Arabs for the first time engaged in widespread protests with some violence.
The United States has been independent for almost 230 years and still has not integrated all of its diverse communities. Even today, 60 years after civil rights legislation was adopted, discrimination has not been eradicated. It should not be surprising that Israel has not solved all of its social problems in only 57 years.
"Israel discriminates against Israeli Arabs by barring them from buying land."
In the early part of the century, the Jewish National Fund was established by the World Zionist Congress to purchase land in Palestine for Jewish settlement. This land, and that acquired after Israel's War of Independence, was taken over by the government. Of the total area of Israel, 92 percent belongs to the State and is managed by the Land Management Authority. It is not for sale to anyone, Jew or Arab. The remaining 8 percent of the territory is privately owned. The Arab Waqf (the Muslim charitable endowment), for example, owns land that is for the express use and benefit of Muslim Arabs. Government land can be leased by anyone, regardless of race, religion or sex. All Arab citizens of Israel are eligible to lease government land.
"Israeli Arabs are discriminated against in employment."
Israeli law prohibits discrimination in employment. According to the State Department, all Israeli workers "may join and establish labor organizations freely." Most unions are part of the Histadrutor the smaller Histadrut Haovdim Haleumit (National Federation of Labor), both of which are independent of the Government.
"Arabs held in Israeli jails are tortured, beaten and killed."
Prison is not a pleasant place for anyone and complaints about the treatment of prisoners in American institutions abound. Israel's prisons are probably among the most closely scrutinized in the world. One reason is the government has allowed representatives of the Red Cross and other groups to inspect them regularly.
Israeli law prohibits arbitrary arrest of citizens, defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty and have the right to writs of habeas corpus and other procedural safeguards. Israel holds no political prisoners and maintains an independent judiciary.
Some prisoners, particularly Arabs suspected of involvement in terrorism, were interrogated using severe methods that have been criticized as excessive. Israel's Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in 1999 prohibiting the use of a variety of abusive practices.
The death penalty has been applied just once, in the case of Adolf Eichmann, the man largely responsible for the "Final Solution." No Arab has ever been given the death penalty, even after the most heinous acts of terrorism.
"Israel uses administrative detention to imprison peaceful Arabs without trial."
Israel inherited and continued certain laws adopted by the British. One is the use of administrative detention, which is permitted under certain circumstances in security cases. The detainee is entitled to be represented by counsel, and may appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court. The burden is on the prosecution to justify holding closed proceedings. Often, officials believe presenting evidence in open court would compromise its methods of gathering intelligence and endanger the lives of individuals who have provided information about planned terrorist activities.
Administrative detention is not necessary in much of the Arab world because the authorities frequently arrest people and throw them in jail without due process. No lawyers, human rights organizations or independent media can protest. Even in the United States, with its exceptionally liberal bail policy, people may be held for extended periods awaiting trial, and special legal standards have .been applied to allow the prolonged incarceration of Taliban and al-Qaida members captured in Afghanistan.
“One does not judge a democracy by the way its soldiers immediately react, young men and women under tremendous provocation. One judges a democracy by the way its courts react, in the dispassionate cool of judicial chambers. And the Israeli Supreme Court and other courts have reacted magnificently. For the first time in Mideast history, there is an independent judiciary willing to listen to grievances of Arabs — that judiciary is called the Israeli Supreme Court.”
— Alan Dershowitz3
"Israel has long sought to deny residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip their political rights."
While defending its existence against hostile Arab forces, Israel took control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Facing a violent insurrection, Israel has been forced to restrict some activities of Palestinians. Israel cannot concede to Palestinians all the rights Americans take for granted in a nation that is not at war, while Arab states maintain a state of belligerency with Israel, and Palestinians engage in terrorism against Israelis.
Given the constraints of Israel's security requirements, efforts were made from the outset to allow Palestinians the greatest possible freedom. After the Six-Day War, the traditional pro-Jordanian leadership continued to hold many civil service positions and was paid by Jordan. Municipal elections were held in 1972 and 1976. For the first time, women and non-landowners were allowed to vote.
The 1976 election brought Arab mayors to power who represented various PLO factions. Muhammad Milhem of Halhoul, Fahd Kawasmeh of Hebron, and Bassam Shaka of Nablus were affiliated with Fatah. Karim Khalaf of Ramallah represented the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Ibrahim Tawil of El-Bireh was associated with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.4
In 1978, these mayors and other radicals formed the National Guidance Committee, which vigorously opposed any accommodation with Israel, attempted to stir up broad allegiance to the PLO on the West Bank and incited rejection of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. In 1981, Israel expelled Milhem and Kawasmeh. They were allowed to return to appeal the expulsion order, but it was upheld by the Israeli Supreme Court.
Two weeks after his expulsion, Milhem said: "There is no room for the existence of the Zionists under a situation of true peace. They are only capable of existing in a situation of tension and war...and that goes for all the parties...[they are] neither doves nor hawks, only pigs."5
Kawasmeh was appointed to the PLO Executive Committee in 1984. Later that year, he was assassinated by Palestinian radicals in Amman.
As part of the Camp David negotiations, Israel proposed an autonomy plan to grant the Palestinians greater control over their affairs. The Palestinians rejected autonomy as an option, however, holding out hope for the creation of a Palestinian state.
For the rest of the decade, Israel, nevertheless, attempted to shift increasing responsibilities from the military to civilian administrators and to Palestinians. Efforts to give Palestinians greater responsibility for their affairs were undermined by the intifada. During the uprising, Palestinian Arabs who wished to cooperate with Israel came under attack and were silenced either through intimidation or murder. Israeli government officials sought to maintain a dialogue with many Palestinians, but those whose identities were discovered became targets.
In secret negotiations in Oslo, Norway, in 1993, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to a plan that would give the latter limited self-government. Subsequent negotiations have resulted in Israeli withdrawal from nearly half the West Bank and most of the Gaza Strip, and increasing Palestinian control over their own affairs. The Palestinian Authority now governs virtually all civil affairs for approximately 98 percent of the Palestinians in the territories. The expectation is that a final political settlement will result in the creation of a Palestinian state in most of the areas once controlled by Israel.
"Israel is stealing water from Arabs in the territories. Israel allows Jews to drill wells, but prevents Arabs from doing so."
In the years immediately following the 1967 war, water resources for the West Bank improved considerably. The water system in the southern Hebron region, for instance, was expanded. New wells were drilled near Jenin, Nablus and Tulkarm. More than 60 towns in the West Bank were given new water supply systems, or had antiquated ones upgraded by the Israeli administration in the territories.
In the late 1970's and early 1980's, however, the Middle East suffered from one of the worst droughts in modern history. Water in the Jordan River and Sea of Galilee dropped to critical levels. The situation deteriorated further at the beginning of the 1990's and has continued to be a problem in the new millennium.
Under these conditions, the Israeli government restricted the drilling of new wells on the West Bank. It had little choice because the West Bank and Israel share the same water table, and the drawing off of fresh water resources could promote saline water seepage.
Arab farmers on the West Bank are served by approximately 100 springs and 300 wells — many dug decades ago and now overutilized. Restrictions on over-exploitation of shallow wells were meant to prevent seepage or total depletion of saline water. Some wells were dug so that Jewish villages could tap new, deep aquifers never before used. These water pools as a rule do not draw from the shallower Arab sources.
At the end of 1991, a conference was scheduled in Turkey to discuss regional water problems. The meeting was torpedoed by Syria. The Syrians, Jordanians and Palestinians all boycotted themultilateral talks in Moscow in January 1992, which included a working group on water issues.
Following the Oslo agreements, Palestinians were more interested in cooperating on water issues. At the meeting of the multilateral working group in Oman in April 1994, an Israeli proposal to rehabilitate and make more efficient water systems in medium-sized communities (in the West Bank/Gaza, Israel and elsewhere in the region) was endorsed. About the same time, a Palestinian Water Authority was created as called for in the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles.
In November 1994, the working group met in Greece and the Israelis, Jordanians, and Palestinians agreed to begin discussion on principles or guidelines for cooperation on water issues. Further progress was made on a variety of issues during the 1995 meeting in Amman and the 1996 meeting in Tunisia. The working groups have not met since.
Israel has not cut the amount of water allocated to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and is planning to examine the possibility of increasing it despite the cut in water allocations within Israel and the requirement of supplying considerable amounts of water to Jordan as mandated by the peace treaty.
In contrast to claims by the Palestinian side, Israel did not even determine the amount of water to be supplied to the territories. The amount was specified in negotiations between the two sides, with the Americans participating. By the consent of both parties, the amount of water was increased relative to the situation prior to the Interim Agreement. Similarly, a formula was decided upon for increasing the water allocation gradually over the interim period.
The negotiations also led to agreements defining the number of wells that Israel is obligated to dig, and the number the PA and international bodies are obligated to dig. Cooperation on issues of sewage and environment were also defined. It was further decided that jurisdiction over water would be transferred to the Palestinians in the framework of the transfer of civil powers, and that the water situation would be supervised by joint monitoring teams
Israel has fulfilled all of her obligations under the Interim Agreement. The water quota agreed upon, and more, is being supplied. Jurisdiction over water was transferred completely and on time, and Israel approved the additional digging of wells. Israel and the PA carry out joint patrols to locate cases of water theft and other water-related problems.
The water issue for the Palestinians actually has little to do with Israel. According to the U.S. Agency for International Development, “The West Bank and Gaza suffer from a chronic water shortage, preventing sustained economic growth and negatively impacting the environment and health of Palestinians. The little water available is inefficiently used.” The analysis adds that “Palestinian ground water supplies have increasingly become polluted as a result of inadequate sewage treatment and over-pumping of wells. Untreated sewage is dumped in valleys and the Mediterranean Sea, decreasing the quality of the already inadequate groundwater supply, and polluting the soil, sea, and coastline.”5a
"Israel's use of deportations violates the Fourth Geneva Convention."
The purpose of the Geneva Convention, approved in 1949, was to prevent a repetition of the Nazis' policy of mass deportations of innocent civilians to slave labor and concentration camps. Israel, of course, does no such thing. What it does, on occasion, is expel a select few individuals who are instigating violence against Jew and Arab alike.
The Geneva Convention itself allows an occupying power to "undertake total or partial evacuation of a given area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand." The Israeli Supreme Court has interpreted this to mean that Israel may expel instigators of violence if necessary to maintain public order or to protect the population from future violence. All deportees have the right to appeal expulsion orders to the Israeli courts, but many Palestinians prefer not to do so.
“The Israeli regime is not apartheid. It is a unique case of democracy.”
— South African Interior Minister Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi5b
"Israel's treatment of Palestinians is similar to the treatment of blacks in apartheid South Africa."
Even before the State of Israel was established, Jewish leaders consciously sought to avoid the situation that prevailed in South Africa. As David Ben-Gurion told Palestinian nationalist Musa Alami in 1934:
We do not want to create a situation like that which exists in South Africa, where the whites are the owners and rulers, and the blacks are the workers. If we do not do all kinds of work, easy and hard, skilled and unskilled, if we become merely landlords, then this will not be our homeland.6
Today, within Israel, Jews are a majority, but the Arab minority are full citizens who enjoy equal rights. Arabs are represented in the Knesset, and have served in the Cabinet, high-level foreign ministry posts (e.g., Ambassador to Finland) and on the Supreme Court. Under apartheid, black South Africans could not vote and were not citizens of the country in which they formed the overwhelming majority of the population. Laws dictated where they could live, work and travel. And, in South Africa, the government killed blacks who protested against its policies. By contrast, Israel allows freedom of movement, assembly and speech. Some of the government's harshest critics are Israeli Arabs who are members of the Knesset.
The situation of Palestinians in the territories is different. The security requirements of the nation, and a violent insurrection in the territories, forced Israel to impose restrictions on Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip that are not necessary inside Israel's pre-1967 borders. The Palestinians in the territories, typically, dispute Israel's right to exist whereas blacks did not seek the destruction of South Africa, only the apartheid regime.
If Israel were to give Palestinians full citizenship, it would mean the territories had been annexed. No Israeli government has been prepared to take that step. Instead, through negotiations, Israel agreed to give the Palestinians increasing authority over their own affairs. It is likely that a final settlement will allow most Palestinians to become citizens of their own state. The principal impediment to Palestinian independence is not Israeli policy, it is the unwillingness of the Palestinian leadership to give up terrorism and agree to live in peace beside the State of Israel.
Despite all their criticism, when asked what governments they admire most, more than 80 percent of Palestinians consistently choose Israel because they can see up close the thriving democracy in Israel, and the rights the Arab citizens enjoy there. By contrast, Palstinians place Arab regimes far down the list, and their own Palestinian Authority at the bottom with only 20 percent saying they admire the corrupt Arafat regime in 2003.6a
“There is still one other question arising out of the disaster of nations which remains unsolved to this day, and whose profound tragedy, only a Jew can comprehend. This is the African question. Just call to mind all those terrible episodes of the slave trade, of human beings who, merely because they were black, were stolen like cattle, taken prisoner, captured and sold. Their children grew up in strange lands, the objects of contempt and hostility because their complexions were different. I am not ashamed to say, though I may expose myself to ridicule for saying so, that once I have witnessed the redemption of the Jews, my people, I wish also to assist in the redemption of the Africans.”
"Black African nations cut relations with Israel because of its racist policies toward Palestinians."
Black African nations did not break relations with Israel because of any concerns about racism; most severed ties with the Jewish State in 1973 because of pressure from the Arab oil-producing nations. Full diplomatic ties were continued only by Malawi, Lesotho and Swaziland, while a few other countries maintained their links through Israeli interest offices at foreign embassies. Commercial ties were also not entirely disrupted, many black African students continued to train in Israel and Israeli experts remained active in Africa.
Israel has had a long history of friendly relations with black African countries. From 1957 to 1973, Israel trained thousands of Africans in all aspects of life including agriculture, health care and economics. Thousands of Africans went to Israel for training, while similar numbers of Israelis were sent to Africa to teach.8
Golda Meir, the architect of Israel's Africa policy, believed the lessons learned by Israelis could be passed on to Africans who, particularly during the 1950s, were engaged in the same process of nation building. “Like them,” she said, “we had shaken off foreign rule; like them, we had to learn for ourselves how to reclaim the land, how to increase the yields of our crops, how to irrigate, how to raise poultry, how to live together, and how to defend ourselves.” Israel could provide a better model for the newly independent African states, Meir believed, because Israelis “had been forced to find solutions to the kinds of problems that large, wealthy, powerful states had never encountered.”9
Once the coercive power of the Arab oil-producers eroded, African countries began to reestablish relations with Israel and to seek new cooperative projects. This trend gained momentum with the ongoing peace negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors. Today, 40 African countries maintain diplomatic ties with Israel, and reciprocal visits by heads of state and government ministers take place frequently. In May 1994, Israel's President Ezer Weizman attended the historic inauguration of Nelson Mandela as the first black African president of South Africa.
"Israel is pursuing a policy of genocide toward the Palestinians that is comparable to the Nazis' treatment of the Jews."
This is perhaps the most odious claim made by Israel's detractors. The Nazis' objective was the systematic extermination of every Jew in Europe. Israel is seeking peace with its Palestinian neighbors. More than one million Arabs live as free and equal citizens in Israel. Of the Palestinians in the territories, 98 percent live under the civil administration of the Palestinian Authority. While Israel sometimes employs harsh measures against Palestinians in the territories to protect Israeli citizens – Jews and non-Jews – from the incessant campaign of terror waged by the PA and Islamic radicals, there is no plan to persecute, exterminate, or expel the Palestinian people.
In response to one such comparison, by a poet who referred to the "Zionist SS," The New Republic's literary editor Leon Wieseltier observed:
The view that Zionism is Nazism — there is no other way to understand the phrase “Zionist SS” — is not different in kind from the view that the moon is cheese. It is not only spectacularly wrong, it is also spectacularly unintelligent. I will not offend myself (that would be self-hate speech!) by patiently explaining why the State of Israel is unlike the Third Reich, except to say that nothing that has befallen the Palestinians under Israel's control may responsibly be compared to what befell the Jews under Germany's control, and that a considerable number of the people who have toiled diligently to find peace and justice for the Palestinians, and a solution to this savage conflict, have been Israeli, some of them even Israeli prime ministers. There is no support for the Palestinian cause this side of decency that can justify the locution “Zionist SS.”10
The absurdity of the charge is also clear from the demography of the disputed territories. While detractors make outrageous claims about Israel committing genocide or ethnic cleansing, the Palestinian population has continued to explode. In Gaza, for example, the population increased from 731,000 in July 1994 to 1,324,991 in 2004, an increase of 81 percent. The growth rate was 3.8 percent, one of the highest in the world. According to the UN, the total Palestinian population in all the disputed territories (they include Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem) was 1,006,000 in 1950, and rose to 1,094,000 in 1970, and exploded to 2,152,000 in 1990. Anthony Cordesman notes the increase “was the result of improvements in income and health services” made by Israel. The Palestinian population has continued to grow exponentially and was estimated in 2004 at more than 3.6 million.11
“Israel’s policies in the territories have caused a humanitarian crisis for the Palestinians.”
It is important to remember that Israel offered to withdraw from 97 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of Gaza, and it is the rejection of that proposal, coupled with incessant Palestinian terrorism, that has forced Israeli troops to carry out operations in the territories. Though these actions have caused hardship for the Palestinian population, the IDF has continued to ensure that humanitarian assistance is provided to Palestinians in need. For example, during just one 48-hour period (January 5-6, 2003), the IDF:
  • Coordinated the movement of Palestinians seeking medical care, assisting 40 to go to hospitals, including four patients from Gaza who were transferred to Israel for medical treatment.
  • Coordinated the movement of 284 Palestinians in the West Bank who were transferred by ambulance.
  • Coordinated the passage of building materials for the construction of a hospital in Kalkilya.
  • Coordinated the passage of humanitarian goods to Bethlehem.
  • Coordinated entry of ration cards sent by an international aid organization to the residents of Azoun.
  • Enabled the distribution of ration cards by the Red Cross in Salfit.
  • Coordinated the passage of agricultural produce and food between Muassi and Khan Yunis.
  • Coordinated the passage of an UNRWA team in Gaza to aid in the disposal of rubbish.
  • Arranged entry into Kalkilya for an Israeli Arab family from East Jerusalem to attend their son’s wedding.
Even at the height of military action, such as the operation to clean out the terrorist nest in the Jenin refugee camp, Israeli forces have gone out of their way to assist Palestinian non-combatants. In the case of the Jenin operation, for example, the hospital there was kept running with a generator delivered under fire by an Israeli officer.12
The best way to improve the situation for the Palestinians in the territories is for the Palestinian Authority to take the steps laid out by the Bush Administration — end the violence, reform its institutions, and elect new leaders — so that peace talks may resume and a settlement can be negotiated.
“Israel’s complaints about Palestinian terrorists hiding among civilians are just an effort to justify their murder of innocent people.”
Israel never intentionally targets civilians. Unfortunately, Palestinian terrorists have purposely tried to hide among the civilian population in an effort to use the Israeli army's morality against it. The terrorists themselves do not care about the lives of innocent Palestinians, which is why they are not hesitant to use them as shields. This behavior is a violation of international law. Article 51 of the 1977 amendment to the 1949 Geneva Conventions specifically prohibts the use of human shields:
The presence or movements of the civilian population or individual civilians shall not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations, in particular attempts to shield military objects from attacks or to shield, favor or impede military operations.13
Thus, the Palestinian terrorists are ultimately responsible for noncombatants who are inadvertently killed or wounded as a result of the terrorists' practice of hiding among civilians to use them as shields.
“Israel demolishes homes in the Rafah refugee camp as part of its campaign to oppress the Palestinians.”
Israel has engaged in military operations, including the demolition of homes, in the Rafah refugee camp, in an effort to curtail Palestinian smuggling operations. Rafah is a city in the Gaza Strip that is divided by the border with Egypt. Palestinians began building tunnels in the area in 1982 to smuggle various items under the Israel-Egypt border fence. Since 1994, when Israel turned the area over to its control, the Palestinian Authority (PA) has been responsible for security in the area. While the PA initially worked to stop the construction of tunnels, it now actively supports the smugglers.
To avoid detection of the tunnels, the Palestinians build them in civilian homes. In 2002, the IDF discovered 33 tunnels and, through mid-October 2003, another 36 were found.
The smugglers bring goods such as cigarettes, automobile parts, clothing, drugs, electronics, and foreign currency purchased or stolen in Egypt for resale in the Gaza Strip. Of even greater concern to Israel is the smuggling of terrorists and weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades and launchers, rifles, explosives, and ammunition, which often make their way to the West Bank.
Large-scale Israeli operations against the tunnels coincided with intelligence reports that the Palestinians were attempting to smuggle more sophisticated weapons such as Katyusha rockets, which could hit Israeli cities, and Stinger missiles, which could shoot down Israeli civilian and military aircraft. These weapons are being brought in to support the terrorist operations of groups such as Hamas and the PFLP (with the help of Iran), as well as to arm PA security services.
Smuggling operations have intensified in the last three years as Israel has blocked other smuggling routes, and as the Palestinians have escalated their violent campaign against Israel. The reason that the homes of Palestinians are demolished by Israel is that they are used to conceal the tunnels connecting Gaza and Egypt. Many Palestinians in Rafah are impoverished and find involvement in the smuggling operations an opportunity to improve their economic situation because they are paid well to excavate the tunnels, transfer goods, and allow their homes to be used to hide the tunnels.
The PA has given Palestinians an even greater incentive to participate in smuggling by offering them alternative housing in the nearby town of Tel-Sultan if Israel demolishes their homes. Some Palestinians have even lied about constructing tunnels in the hope that the IDF will demolish their homes and they can get nicer ones from the PA.
“Yasser Arafat is directing the Palestinian Authority’s resources to the health and welfare of the Palestinian people.”
One of the principal reasons for the suffering of the Palestinian people is the failure of the Palestinian Authority (PA) to allocate the billions of dollars in international aid it has received for the health and welfare of the population. The corruption in the PA has been extensively documented by both Palestinians and external reviewers such as the International Monetary Fund, but even setting this important problem aside, an examination of PA spending shows that a disproportionate share of the budget is being spent on the president rather than the public.
In fact, there have been months in which President Yasser Arafat’s office received nearly as much money as the departments of health and social services combined.14 In the first half of 2003, Arafat’s office was allocated 137 million shekels while the total budget for social affairs was 95 million shekels and for health 185 million shekels.
All parties recognize that a key to peace is fostering prosperity in the PA and improving the living conditions of the Palestinian people. Israel has an important role to play in both areas, but the welfare of the majority of Palestinians is in the hands of the PA, and their present living conditions, as well as their future in an independent state, depend on the commitment of their leaders to improve their society rather than simply enrich themselves.
“Israel is a theocracy and should not be a Jewish State.”
It often makes people uncomfortable to refer to Israel as “the Jewish State” because it suggests a theocracy and, therefore, the demise of Israel as a Jewish state is viewed by some people (even in Israel) as a positive development. Israel is not a theocracy; however, it is governed by the rule of law as drafted by a democratically elected parliament. It is informed by Jewish values and adheres to many Jewish religious customs (such as holidays), but this is similar to the United States and other nations that are shaped by the Judeo-Christian heritage and also have expressly religious elements (e.g., church-state separation in the U.S. does not preclude the recognition of Christmas as a holiday).
Israel has no state religion, and all faiths enjoy freedom of worship, yet it is attacked for its Jewish character, whereas the Arab states that all have Islam as their official religion are regarded as legitimate.
The Jewish people are a nation with a shared origin, religion, culture, language, and history. And why shouldn’t the Jewish people have a state? No one suggests that Arabs are not entitled to a nation (and they have not one, but twenty-one) of their own or Swedes or Germans, or that Catholics are not entitled to a state (Vatican City) headed by a theocrat (the Pope). To suggest thatZionism, the nationalist movement of the Jewish people, is the only form of nationalism that is illegitimate is pure bigotry. It is especially ironic that the Jewish nation should be challenged given that Jewish statehood preceded the emergence of most modern nation-states by thousands of years.
It is also not unusual that one community should be the majority within a nation and seek to maintain that status. In fact, this is true in nearly every country in the world. Moreover, societies usually reflect the cultural identity of the majority. India and Pakistan were established at the same time as Israel through a violent partition, but no one believes these nations are illegitimate because one is predominantly Hindu and the other has a Muslim majority, or that these nations shouldn’t be influenced by those communities (e.g., that cows in India should not be treated as sacred).
In the United States, a vigorous debate persists over the boundaries between church and state. Similar discussions regarding “synagogue and state” are ongoing in Israel, with philosophical disagreements over whether Israel can be a Jewish and a democratic state, and practical arguments over Sabbath observance, marriage and divorce laws, and budgets for religious institutions. Nevertheless, most Jews take for granted that Israel is, and must remain, a Jewish state. Arab citizens also understand that Israel is a Jewish state and, while they might prefer that it was not, they have still chosen to live there (nothing prevents Arabs from moving to any of the 180-odd non-Jewish states in the world). Both Jews and Arabs realize that if Jews cease to be a majority in Israel, Israel will no longer have a Jewish character or serve as a haven for persecuted Jews, and that is one of the elements underlying peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Israeli textbooks are just as bad as those in the Palestinian Authority, filled with stereotypes, historical inaccuracies, and a failure to acknowledge alternative political views.”
More than 20 years ago, it was true that some Israeli textbooks used stereotyped images of Arabs; however, the books in use in public schools today are very different.15
Israeli texts go out of their way to avoid prejudices and to guard against generalizations. In one seventh grade lesson, students are given the following problem:
"Many people think: The dove is a bird that pursues peace. This belief is incorrect; it is a prejudice: people believe it without checking it. There are a lot of prejudices. For example:
1.The Jews control the world and exploit all those who live in it.
2.The blacks are inferior; they are incapable of being scientists.
3.The Arabs only understand the language of force...
Be ready to explain orally why these are prejudices." (I Understand, 1993, p.259)
In an elementary textbook on reading comprehension, students read how a Jewish girl was saved by an Arab woman. The book notes, “The Arabs are like the Jews. … There are nasty people among them and there are decent people and … they should not be labeled” (What is the Interpretation? Comprehension B, pp. 184-188).
Contrary to suggestions that Israelis do not accept the idea that Palestinians are a people, Israeli textbooks explain the origins of Palestinian nationalism. For example, a 9th grade text observes that “during the 1930's, Arab nationalist movements evolved all over the Middle East. Many of the Arabs of Eretz Yisrael also began formulating a national consciousness — in other words, the perception that they are not just part of the larger Arab nation, but are also Palestinians” (The Twentieth Century - On the Threshold of Tomorrow, Grade 9, 1999, p.44).
While Palestinian texts omit references to Jewish contributions to the world, the Israeli books recognize the achievements of Arabs and Muslims. One text highlights the Arab role as creators of culture: “...they were the first to discover the existence of infectious diseases. They were also the first to build public hospitals. Because of their considerable contribution to various scientific fields, there are disciplines that to this day are called by their Arabic names, such as algebra.” Islam’s contributions are also acknowledged in the same passage: “The Islamic religion also influenced the development of culture. The obligation to pray in the direction of Mecca led to the development of astronomy, which helped identify the direction according to the heavenly bodies. The duty to make a pilgrimage developed geography and gave a push to the writing of travel books. These books, and the Arabs' high capability in map drawing, helped develop trade. To this day, merchants use Arabic words, such as bazaar, check and tariff” (From Generation to Generation, Vol. b, 1994, p. 220)
Palestinian textbooks also negate the Jewish connection to the Holy Land while Israeli texts show respect for the Arab/Muslim attachment to the land. “The Land of Israel in general, and Jerusalem in particular, have been sanctified more and more in Islamic thought — as Islam has developed and spread, both religiously and geographically. As Islam absorbed more and more of the world conquered by it, so it adapted and Islamized the values that it absorbed, including the holiness of the Land of Israel, its flora and its water, living in it, the sanctity of being buried in it and the like. All these became from that time onwards part of orthodox Islam” (H. Peleg, G. Zohar, This is the Land - Introduction to Land of Israel Studies for the Upper Grades, 2000, pp. 161-162.)
Israeli textbooks contain a plurality of views, including those that conflict with conventional research and are critical of Israeli policies. Controversial topics, such as the disputed territories, the refugee issue, and the status of Israeli Arabs are covered from multiple viewpoints. For example, one book quotes historian Benny Morris’s unconventional position attributing the flight of Palestinians in 1947-1948 more to the actions of Jewish forces than the instructions of the leaders of Arab countries (From Exile to Independence - The History of the Jewish People in Recent Generations, vol. 2, 1990, p. 312).
The Arab point of view is also represented. For example, a history text notes how Israel’s government treated Anwar Sadat’s 1971 peace proposal “with scorn out of the feeling of power and superiority that had taken hold of Israeli society following the Six Day War. After his proposal had been rejected and the political stalemate continued, Sadat decided to go to war” (K. Tabibian, Journey to the Past - The Twentieth Century, By Dint of Freedom, 1999, p. 313).
Israeli texts also use simulation games to help students understand different perspectives on an issue. In one, students are told to divide into groups representing Jewish and Palestinian journalists and prepare a report on the discussion in the United Nations leading to the partition resolution. Students are then asked to discuss the differences between the reports of the Jewish and Palestinian journalists (K. Tabibian, Journey To The Past - The Twentieth Century, By Dint of Freedom, 1999, p. 294).
Israel is not perfect and exceptions do exist. Some generalizations and patronizing terminology are found in textbooks used in the ultra-Orthodox schools. These schools comprise less than 10 percent of the Israeli educational system, and the same Israeli watchdog organizations that have pointed out problems in Palestinian textbooks have also publicized the need to remove the handful of inappropriate references from school books in this system.16
“Israel poisoned Yasser Arafat.”
Farouk Kaddoumi claimed that Israel poisoned Yasser Arafat because it wants Palestinian leaders who obey it and agree with its policies.17 This was just the most recent of a number of such allegations that have persisted since Arafat’s death.
We don’t know for sure what killed Arafat because none of his medical records have been publicly released, but even then Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath ruled out poisoning.18 At the time of his death, the French government, constrained by privacy laws, discounted the possibility of foul play when it announced, “If the doctors had had the slightest doubt, they would have referred it to the police.”19 Moreover, members of Arafat’s family, including ones who have made the poisoning charge, have had access to the records and produced nothing to substantiate the rumors. Arafat’s wife, Suha, could have released the findings of French physicians, and you can be sure she would have done so if they would have implicated Israel in her husband’s death.
It was well-known that Arafat suffered from a number of ailments. At the time of his medical evacuation to Paris, his aides revealed that he was suffering from a low platelet count and had undergone a platelet transfusion. Reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal noted that “since platelets are involved in blood clotting, patients with low platelet counts are predisposed to brain hemorrhages, and this may have contributed to Arafat’s death.” Rosenthal added that “low platelet counts in the blood are a common finding in a wide range of illnesses, including severe infections, liver disease, end-stage cancer, and even AIDS.”20
Why has the cause of Arafat’s death remained secret? Rosenthal suggests a few possible explanations. “Perhaps he suffered from a disease that they considered embarrassing. Or perhaps the doctors who treated him during the early phases of his illness in Ramallah missed a treatable medical condition, letting him deteriorate to the point it was too late to cure him once he was moved to Paris.”
The first explanation may be the most likely, as it is widely believed that Arafat died of AIDS. Suggestions that Arafat engaged in homosexual activity date to at least 1987, when Ion Pacepa, the deputy chief of Romania’s intelligence service under Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, published his book Red Horizons, revealing evidence of Arafat’s proclivities.
If Arafat died of AIDS, it is unlikely Arafat’s records will ever be released, which will allow conspiracy theorists to continue to blame Israel.
“Israel is persecuting Christians.”
While Christians are unwelcome in Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia, and most have been driven out of their longtime homes in Lebanon, Christians continue to be welcome in Israel. Christians have always been a minority in Israel, but it is the only Middle East nation where the Christian population has grown in the last half century (from 34,000 in 1948 to 140,000 today), in large measure because of the freedom to practice their religion.
By their own volition, the Christian communities have remained the most autonomous of the various religious communities in Israel, though they have increasingly chosen to integrate their social welfare, medical and educational institutions into state structures. The ecclesiastical courts of the Christian communities maintain jurisdiction in matters of personal status, such as marriage and divorce. The Ministry of Religious Affairs deliberately refrains from interfering in their religious life, but maintains a Department for Christian Communities to address problems and requests that may arise.
In Jerusalem, the rights of the various Christian churches to custody of the Christian holy places were established during the Ottoman Empire. Known as the “status quo arrangement for the Christian holy places in Jerusalem,” these rights remain in force today in Israel.
It was during Jordan's control of the Old City from 1948 until 1967 that Christian rights were infringed and Israeli Christians were barred from their holy places. The Christian population declined by nearly half, from 25,000 to 12,646. Since then, the population has slowly been growing.
Some Christians have been among those inconvenienced by Israel's construction of the security fence, but they have not been harmed because of their religious beliefs. They simply live in areas where the fence is being built. Like others who can show they have suffered some damage, Christians are entitled to compensation. And the fence does not have any impact on Christian holy places or their freedom of access to them.
Suggestions that Israel is persecuting Christians were publicized by columnist Bob Novak, who has a long history of vitriolic attacks on Israel. Novak actually presented no specific evidence that any Christians have been harmed or their religious freedom infringed.21 He cited a single source, whose bias was obvious, to support the charge that the fence is hurting Christians in East Jerusalem, but failed to mention that the fence is helping to save Christian lives that might otherwise be lost in the indiscriminate attacks of Palestinian terrorists.
The hypocrisy of Novak's latest critique is clear from his failure to raise the very real concerns about the fate of Christians under Arab rule, especially under the Palestinian Authority, where a rapidly declining population of 27,000 Christians live among 3 million Muslims. The proportion of Christians in the Palestinian territories has dropped from 15 percent of the Arab population in 1950 to less than 1 percent today. Three-fourths of all Bethlehem Christians now live abroad, and the majority of the city’s population is Muslim. The Christian population declined 29 percent in the West Bank and 20 percent in the Gaza Strip from 1997 to 2002. By contrast, in the period 1995–2003, Israel’s Arab Christian population grew 14.1 percent.22
Jonathan Adelman and Agota Kuperman noted that Yasser Arafat “tried to erase the historic Jesus by depicting him as the first radical Palestinian armed fedayeen (guerrilla). Meanwhile, thePalestinian Authority has adopted Islam as its official religion, used shari’a Islamic codes, and allowed even officially appointed clerics to brand Christians (and Jews) as infidels in their mosques.” The authors add that the “militantly Islamic rhetoric and terrorist acts of HamasIslamic Jihad, and Hezbollah...offer little comfort to Christians.”
David Raab observed that “Palestinian Christians are perceived by many Muslims — as were Lebanon's Christians — as a potential fifth column for Israel. In fact, at the start of the recent violence in 2000, Muslim Palestinians attacked Christians in Gaza.” Raab also wrote that “anti-Christian graffiti is not uncommon in Bethlehem and neighboring Beit Sahur, proclaiming: ‘First the Saturday people (the Jews), then the Sunday people (the Christians),’” and that “Christian cemeteries have been defaced, monasteries have had their telephone lines cut, and there have been break-ins at convents.”
When Arafat died, Vatican Radio correspondent Graziano Motta said, “The death of the president of the Palestinian National Authority has come at a time when the political, administrative and police structures often discriminate against [Christians].” Motta added that Christians “have been continually exposed to pressures by Muslim activists, and have been forced to profess fidelity to the intifada.”
While Novak suggests Israel is bulldozing Christian houses, without any evidence to support the charge, he ignores reports by journalists such as Motta who reported, “Frequently, there are cases in which the Muslims expropriate houses and lands belonging to Catholics, and often the intervention of the authorities has been lacking in addressing acts of violence against young women, or offenses against the Christian faith.”23
It certainly wouldn’t be difficult for Novak to find evidence of mistreatment of Christians in the PA if he were interested, but unlike Christians who enjoy freedom of speech as well as religion in Israel, beleaguered Palestinian Christians are afraid to speak out. “Out of fear for their safety, Christian spokesmen aren’t happy to be identified by name when they complain about the Muslims’ treatment of the record they talk of harassment and terror tactics, mainly from the gangs of thugs who looted and plundered Christians and their property, under the protection of Palestinian security personnel.”24
“Israel is killing Palestinians with radiation spy machines.”
Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels was the master of the “big lie” tactic in which a lie, no matter how outrageous, is repeated often enough that it will eventually be accepted as truth. It is a propaganda tool the Palestinians have repeatedly tried to use to tar Israel. Past examples have included specious claims that Israel “massacred” 500 people at Jenin,25 infects Palestinians with the AIDS virus,26 and drops poison candy for children in Gaza from airplanes.27
The latest calumny from the Palestinians is the claim that Israel is using a “radial spy machine” at checkpoints, and that the device killed a 55-year-old Palestinian woman.28The charge is apparently related to the Palestinian Authority’s decision to close a checkpoint on their side of the border in Gaza to protest Israel’s use of advanced radio-wave machines for searching Palestinian travelers.29
The device is the SafeView Millimeter Wave Radar, an American-made portal system that uses a safe millimeter wave holographic technology to screen travelers from Egypt for weapons and explosives. Unlike metal detectors, this system is capable of detecting virtually any man-made object, regardless of the type of material, by transmitting ultra-high frequency, low-powered radio frequency waves as people pass through the portal. The waves penetrate clothing and reflect off of the person’s skin and any items being carried. A sensor array captures the reflected waves and uses a desktop computer to analyze the information and produce a high-resolution, 3-D image from the signals.30
Since the allegation is coming from the official Palestinian media, it represents a violation of the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to end incitement against Israel.
“Palestinians living under ‘occupation’ have the lowest standard of living in the Middle East.”
When Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, officials took measures to improve the conditions that Palestinians had lived under during Jordan’s 19-year occupation of the West Bank, and Egypt’s occupation of Gaza. Universities were opened, Israeli agricultural innovations were shared, modern conveniences were introduced, and health care was significantly upgraded. More than 100,000 Palestinians were employed in Israel, and were paid the same wages as Israeli workers, which stimulated economic growth.
The rise in violence during the 1990s, and then the war instigated by Palestinian terrorists beginning in 2000, has taken a heavy toll on the Palestinian economy. To protect its citizens from suicide bombers and other terrorists, Israel was forced to take measures that had a deleterious impact on the economy in the Palestinian Authority. The most serious step was to limit the number of Palestinian workers entering Israel to reduce the risk of terrorists pretending to be workers slipping into the country. This raised the level of unemployment, which, in turn, had a negative spillover effect on the rest of the Palestinian economy.
Despite the collapse of the PA economy from the last five years of war, Palestinian Arabs are still better off than many of their neighbors. The most recent Human Development Report from theUnited Nations ranks the PA 102nd in terms of life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income out of the 177 countries and territories in the world, placing it in the “medium human development” category along with most of the other Middle Eastern states (only the Gulf sheikdoms are ranked “high”). The PA is ranked just 12 places below Jordan and one behindIran; it is rated ahead of Syria (#105), Algeria (#108), Egypt (#120), and Morocco (#125).31
Few Palestinians would trade places with Arabs in neighboring countries. Well, perhaps, with one exception. They might aspire to the standard of living in the country ranked 22nd by the UN – Israel.
“Israeli checkpoints are unnecessarily preventing Palestinians from receiving medical attention.”
Israel has instituted checkpoints for one reason – to prevent Palestinian terrorists from infiltrating Israel. If the Palestinian Authority was fulfilling its road map obligations to dismantle the terrorist networks and disarm the terrorists, and its security forces were taking adequate measures to prevent Palestinians from planning and launching attacks, the checkpoints would be unnecessary.
Israel tries to balance its security concerns with the welfare of the Palestinians, and is especially sensitive to the medical needs of Palestinians. Thus, many Palestinians are allowed to enter Israel to receive treatment from some of the finest medical facilities in the world.
Unfortunately, Palestinian terrorists have tried to take advantage of Israel’s goodwill. In December 2004, for example, a Hamas agent with forged documents claiming that he was a cancer patient in need of medical treatment from an Israeli hospital was arrested by security forces. Hamed A-Karim Hamed Abu Lihiya was to meet up with another terrorist, obtain weapons from allies inside Israel, and carry out an attack. That same month, a man recruited by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade to plant a bomb on the railway tracks near Netanya tried to use false papers indicating he needed hospital treatment to enter Israel. Another Hamas terrorist planning a suicide bombing was arrested in March 2005 after pretending to be a kidney donor.32
On June 20, 2005, 21-year-old Wafa Samir Ibrahim Bas was arrested attempting to smuggle an explosives belt through the Erez crossing. Bas aroused the suspicion of soldiers at the checkpoint when a biometric scanner revealed she was hiding explosives. When she realized they had discovered the explosive belt, she attempted unsuccessfully to detonate it.33
Bas had been admitted on humanitarian grounds to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva several months earlier for treatment of massive burns she received as a result of a cooking accident. After her arrest, she admitted that the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade had instructed her to use her personal medical authorization documents to enter into Israel to carry out a suicide attack. In an interview shown on Israeli television, Bas said her “dream was to be a martyr” and that her intent was to kill 40 or 50 people – as many young people as possible.
Nevertheless, Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian obstetrician and gynecologist from the Jabalya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, who has worked at the Soroka Hospital, wrote that he was “outraged at the cynical and potentially deadly suicide bombing attempt.” Dr. Abuelaish said he does research at the hospital's Genetic Institute and has warm relations with his colleagues. “I make a point, whenever I'm at the hospital, of visiting Palestinian patients,” he said. “I also schedule appointments for other Gaza residents, and even bring medication from Soroka to needy patients in the Strip....On the very day that she planned to detonate her bomb, two Palestinians in critical condition were waiting in Gaza to be taken for urgent treatment at Soroka ”
Dr. Abuelaish added, “Wafa was sent to kill the very people in Israel who are healing Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and West Bank. What if Israeli hospitals now decide to bar Palestinians seeking treatment? How would those who sent Bis feel if their own relatives, in need of medical care in Israel, are refused treatment?”34
The Israeli checkpoint saved the lives not only of countless Israelis, but of the Palestinian would-be suicide bomber. By using this tactic, the Palestinians have reinforced the necessity of retaining the checkpoints and forced Israel to carry out more stringent inspections, yet another example of how terrorists are making life unnecessarily difficult for innocent Palestinians.
“Israeli hospitals extend humanitarian treatment to Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and West Bank. These efforts continued when all other cooperation between Palestinians and Israelis came to a halt during the most recent intifada.”
— Palestinian obstetrician and gynecologist Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish35
“The Palestinian Authority protects Jewish holy sites.”
Less than 24 hours after the last IDF soldier withdrew from the Gaza StripPalestinian Authority (PA) bulldozers began to raze synagogues that were left behind by Jewish residents. Thousands of Palestinians also stormed the former Gaza settlements and set fire to several synagogues and yeshivot while PA security forces stood and watched. Several Palestinians belonging to terrorist groups climbed the roofs of synagogues and placed green flags on top while other members inside set fire to the buildings and looted items that the Jews left behind.36
The desecration of these Jewish holy places in Gaza came after Israel decided not dismantle the synagogues there. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz stated, “It would be a historic Jewish mistake to destroy the synagogues.”37
The decision to keep the 19 synagogues and yeshivot in Gaza and the evacuated northern Samaria settlements standing passed in the cabinet by a vote of 14-2. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan was told by Israel that since the disengagement plan was implemented, the “PA now had the moral responsibility to protect the synagogues as places with religious significance.”38 Earlier in the week, Ministry of Defense workers placed signs that read “Holy Place” in Arabic and English on synagogue walls throughout Gaza so the Palestinians would know not to destroy them.39
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas defended the razing of Gaza synagogues by simply claiming, “There are no synagogues here.” Abbas said the buildings that were formally synagogues were now emptied and in danger of collapsing, and must be demolished to build homes for thousands of Palestinians.40 The PA maintained that the synagogues were symbols of Israeli occupation, and boycotted the ceremony marking the handover of Gaza to the Palestinians in protest of Israel's decision to leave the synagogues intact.41
This was not the first instance when the PA has failed to protect Jewish holy places:
  • In Septemer 1996, Palestinian rioters destroyed a synagogue at Joseph's Tomb in Nablus.
  • Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem has been repeatedly attacked since 1996.
  • In October 2000, Joseph's Tomb was torched after the Israeli garrison guarding it was temporarily withdrawn. It was subsequently rebuilt as a mosque.
  • Also in October 2000, the ancient synagogue in Jericho was destroyed by arson and a second historic synagogue was damaged.
PA textbooks continue to teach young Palestinians that Jews have no connection to the Land of Israel and to disparage Judaism, so it should not be surprising that Jewish institutions are not shown respect. This is one reason why Israel is reluctant to make any compromises regarding Jerusalem that might allow Palestinians to threaten the sanctity of the shrines of any religion.


1Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.
2Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics.
2aAlan Dershowitz, The Case for Israel. (NY: John Wiley & Sons, 2003), p. 157.
3Speech to AIPAC Policy Conference, (May 23, 1989).
4Newsview, (March 23, 1982).
5El-Wahda, (Abu Dhabi).
5a"Water Resource Development," USAID West Bank and Gaza
5bHaaretz, (September 23, 2003).
6Shabtai Teveth, Ben-Gurion and the Palestinian Arabs: From Peace to War, (London: Oxford University Press, 1985), p. 140.
6aJames Bennet, “Letter from the Middle East; Arab Showplace? Could It Be the West Bank?” New York Times, (April 2, 2003).
7Golda Meir, My Life, (NY: Dell Publishing Co., 1975), pp. 308-309.
8Moshe Decter, To Serve. To Teach. To Leave. The Study of Israel's Development Assistance Program in Black Africa, (NY: American Jewish Congress, 1977), pp. 7-8.
9Meir, p. 306.
10The New Republic, (December 30, 2002).
11Anthony Cordesman, "From Peace to War: Land for Peace or Settlements for War," (DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, August 15, 2003), pp. 12-13.
12Jerusalem Report, (December 20, 2002).
13Washington Times, (February 20, 2003).
14See, for example, August 2003, Palestinian National Authority Ministry of Finance.
15See, for example, Center for Monitoring the Impact on Peace, Newsletter, (December 2003 and February 2004).
16Center for Monitoring the Impact on Peace, Newsletter, (February 2004).
17Khaled Abu Toameh, “Kaddoumi claims Israel poisoned Arafat,” Jerusalem Post, (March 30, 2005).
18Associated Press, (November 17, 2004).
19John Ward Anderson, “Conspiracy Theories Persist on Arafat's Death, ” Washington Post, (November 18, 2004), p. A36.
20Elisabeth Rosenthal, “Secrecy surrounds diagnosis,” International Herald Tribune, (November 12, 2004).
21Bob Novak, “Hyde fights for overlooked Christians,” Chicago Sun-Times, (April 18, 2005).
22Alex Safian, “New York Times Omits Major Reason Christians are Leaving Bethlehem,” (December 24, 2004), CAMERA.
23“Christians in Palestine Concerned About their future Zenit,” Zenit News Agency, (November 14, 2004).
24Hanan Shlein, Ma'ariv, (December 24, 2001).
25CNN, (April 17, 2002).
26Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, (May 15, 1997).
27Jerusalem Post, (May 23, 2001).
28Palestine News Agency WAFA, (April 28, 2005).
29Al-Quds, (April 27, 2005).
30Endwave Corporation and SafeView, Inc.
31“Human Development Report 2004,” United Nations Development Programme, 2005.
32Jerusalem Post, (June 20, 2005).
33Jerusalem Post, (June 20, 2005); BBC, (June 21, 2005).
34Jerusalem Post, (June 24, 2005).
35Jerusalem Post, (June 24, 2005).
36“PA bulldozers begin razing remaining Gaza synagogues,” Jerusalem Post, (September 12, 2005).
37Herb Keinon, “Cabinet votes not to dismantle Gaza synagogues,” Jerusalem Post, (September 12, 2005).
38Herb Keinon, “Cabinet votes not to dismantle Gaza synagogues,” Jerusalem Post, (September 12, 2005).
39Yoav Stern, “PA to raze synagogues, spokesman says,” Ha’aretz, (September 12, 2005).
40Khaled Abu Toameh, “PA, Hamas defend synagogue razing,” Jerusalem Post, (September 12, 2005).
41“PA bulldozers begin razing remaining Gaza synagogues,” Jerusalem Post, (September 12, 2005).

What the Evangelicals Give the Jews

Michael Medved — May 2012
  • Many Jewish voters this November will find themselves at a crossroads: Will they accept their deep disappointment with Barack Obama and vote for his reelection, or will they overcome their own discomfort with Christian evangelicals and vote for the Republican candidate? The irrepressible argument about the appropriate relationship between the Jewish community and Christian conservatives has returned with a vengeance, forcing a fresh response to a fundamental question: Should Jews view our born-again fellow citizens as natural allies or inevitable adversaries?
Unfortunately, the familiar grounds of this debate rely for the most part on inaccurate assumptions and proceed inexorably to illogical conclusions.
Advocates of cooperation and coalition-building—call them Collaborationists—cite Christian evangelicals as an indispensable source of support for Israel, without whom U.S. policy in the Middle East could easily tilt toward the Palestinians and Arab nations more generally. According to the Collaborationist argument, Jews and evangelicals should ignore profound differences in their core values and put aside sharp disagreements on American domestic issues in order to make common cause against the existential threat of Islamofascism.
Meanwhile, skeptics who seek to maintain the traditional Jewish wariness toward fervent Christian believers—let’s designate them Rejectionists—insist that the ardent evangelical embrace of the Zionist project only encourages the most intransigent and fanatical elements in Israel, thereby undermining chances for a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians. The doubters, moreover, question the theological sources of Christian Zionism, insisting that sunny proclamations of brotherhood actually mask dark intentions of mass conversion, married to apocalyptic visions that inevitably include the unappetizing prospect of large nuclear explosions in the vicinity of Jerusalem. As if that weren’t enough, Christian conservatives (or, in the preferred locution of their leftist critics, “the American Taliban”) stand accused by the Rejectionists of seeking to impose the sort of ruthless theocratic rule that would make life intolerable for all religious minorities.
The clashing narratives of both friends and foes of the tentative Jewish-evangelical alliance require considerable correction, or at least corrective context.
Collaborationists make their first mistake in assuming that conservative Christians’ support for Israel separates them significantly from their non-evangelical neighbors. David Frum examined public opinion surveys in 2000 and 2004 from the Annenberg Foundation, American National Election studies, and the National Jewish Democratic Council, and he found a “surprisingly small gap in the attitudes [toward Israel] of evangelical Christians as compared [with] other non-Jews.” His conclusion: “Yes, Evangelicals are a little more positive. But only a little.”
Given the overwhelming support for Israel by the public at large, that’s hardly surprising; in fact, Gallup’s most recent survey on the subject (February 2011) showed sympathy for the Jewish state at a “near record-high….All major U.S. population subgroups show greater sympathy for the Israelis than for the Palestinians.” The biggest differences in attitudes toward Israel involved political rather than religious orientation: 80 percent of Republicans backed Israel over the Palestinians, compared with 57 percent of both Democrats and Independents.
Wide-ranging American identification with Israel’s struggle against Islamist terrorism (notably more intense, according to the polls, since the terrorist attacks of September 11) works against Collaborationist claims that evangelical support is so indispensable that American Jews must subordinate their disagreements on core principles in order to maintain an alliance of necessity.
The much larger problem with this line of thought is that the supposedly fundamental splits on basic core values between Jews and Christians do not actually exist. In which areas, exactly, can committed Jews identify irreconcilable differences with serious Christians when it comes to most significant questions of morals, ethics, and righteous behavior? Does anyone suppose that our Baptist neighbors cherish the centrality of the family less passionately than we do, or display a weaker commitment to acts of compassion for the poor, or express a more feeble determination to repair a broken world in the tradition of tikkun olam? Anyone who honestly believes that born-again believers neglect their obligation to “love your neighbor as yourself” hasn’t visited their churches and schools and service organizations to witness the prodigious acts of loving kindness that sometimes put our communal efforts to shame. Aside from such impressionistic evidence, there’s a wealth of data in Arthur C. Brooks’s indispensable 2006 book, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, which shows that evangelicals honor the great Jewish tradition of tzedakah at least as well as we do.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Christian conservatives share the common attitudes of the Upper West Side on explosive social issues such as abortion, gay marriage, or gun control, but it would be difficult to claim that those purportedly enlightened approaches are somehow inherently and authentically Jewish. Talmudic law may take a slightly less restrictive view of abortion (particularly when preserving the life of the mother) than do some of the more unbending Christian interpretations, but long-standing Jewish religious tradition still lines up with National Right to Life far more closely than it does with Planned Parenthood.
When it comes to same-sex marriage, leaders of Reform Judaism (and, increasingly, Conservative Judaism as well) may insist that conscience impels their support, but this ethical position derives from a contemporary liberal worldview more than any scriptural outlook that counts as Biblical or Rabbinic. Concerning gun rights, the majority of Jews (who reliably align with the Democratic Party) may believe there’s something disturbingly goyishe about the Second Amendment and the NRA, but our normally voluble sages were eerily silent over the centuries on defining an authentic Jewish position on private ownership of firearms.
Yet those sages most certainly spoke out on the dignity of commerce and the value of wealth creation. And that is worth remembering at a time when the free-market convictions of conservative Christians are likewise held to be in opposition to basic Jewish values. In point of fact, business ethics are one of the principal concerns of Jewish law from the Torah onward, shaping a culture known for millennia for its enterprise and industry in the marketplace.
This heritage may come as news to Jewish activists, graduate students, and museum curators, for whom the romance of ancient Jewish tradition almost exclusively involves bearded immigrant agitators, labor organizers, and embattled leftist intellectuals. But there is no denying that the history of Jewish radicalism in Europe and the United States played out over the course of only 250 years—a brief (if colorful) interlude in a historical panorama of honorable, unstoppable money-making that goes back at least 10 times as far.
In terms of the distinctly American experience, the role of socialist ideals and institutions has been vastly exaggerated in the popular imagination, obscuring the dominant impact of business on the rise of the Jewish population into the middle class (and beyond) within two generations of Ellis Island. Even in the heyday of leftist, Yiddish-speaking New York, Jews aspired to bourgeois respectability far more than they longed to establish an American Workers’ Paradise. In 1904, Eugene Debs ran as the Socialist Party candidate and drew an impressive 3 percent of the national popular vote, but he failed badly in his efforts to carry Jewish New York. In the famous Eighth Assembly District of the Lower East Side, Democrat Alton B. Parker crushed Socialist Debs by nearly 3 to 1, but the “all-American” Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, beat them both and easily swept the neighborhood. After World War II, the ability of millions of Jewish Americans to move to the suburbs (and, ultimately, to provide Ivy League educations for their kids) owed little to Marxist pamphleteers, union bosses, or New Deal bureaucrats and everything to the dynamism of small business.
The long-standing, undeniable connection between Jewish-American progress and the free-market system means that Jews in no way betray their own past by accepting (or, better yet, embracing) the pro-business attitudes of conservative Christians. Like the Puritans in both England and Massachusetts that they claim as inspiration, today’s evangelicals feel unembarrassed by making money and tend to see the process of getting rich as a sign of God’s blessing rather than proof of Satanic corruption. Many privileged, prosperous American Jews may never share the limited-government, free-market inclinations of evangelicals, but it’s absurd to view such attitudes as alien to the Jewish experience.
Contrary to the Collaborationist paradigm, working together for Israel won’t force Jews and Christian conservatives to set aside the values that keep them apart; it’s far more likely that making common cause for Israel will lead them to recognize the shared values that should bring them together.
For Rejectionists, any talk of such cooperation on behalf of Israel or other causes amounts to a betrayal of the very essence of Jewish identity—providing aid and comfort to a potentially lethal enemy of the pluralism that allows unpopular religious minorities to thrive in the United States. For a half century, Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League has been warning of evangelical efforts to “Christianize America”—as if the nation hadn’t already been thoroughly “Christianized” since its founding (by patriots almost entirely Christian)—and suggesting that emphasis on that proud religious heritage amounts to “defamation” of someone else. Alan Dershowitz, one of Israel’s most effective and impassioned defenders in public debate, wrote a 2007 book called Blasphemy: How the Religious Right Is Hijacking Our Declaration of Independence. Note the possessive adjective “our” in the subtitle—as though the “religious right” represents some outside force attempting to swipe a treasure that belongs to us, and to which they hold no legitimate claim.
While accusing born-again Christians of stealing items of our national heritage, Rejectionists also charge them with supporting Israel for the most dangerous imaginable reason: a sense of religious imperative. This indictment rests upon the highly questionable assumption that allies who join your cause out of political calculation count as more reliable and honorable than those who defend your interests because they believe God commanded them to do so.
Nevertheless, skeptics explain their well-developed fear of Christian Zionism by citing the apocalyptic visions occasionally promoted by some of its leading advocates—prominent among them Pastor John Hagee of Christians United for Israel, the most important Christian Zionist group. It’s only natural to feel uncomfortable with impassioned exhortations to speed the rebuilding of Jerusalem and its Temple in order to hasten the imminent vaporization of Zion (and the rest of the world) as part of an especially gruesome series of end-times expectations.
But the Armageddon element has been vastly overplayed as an explanatory factor in the deep, broad evangelical support for Israel. In fact, American Christians endorsed Jewish return to the Holy Land long before the development of Theodor Herzl’s modern Zionist movement—or the birth of nuclear weapons. In his fascinating 2007 book Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present, Michael B. Oren (now Israel’s ambassador to the United States) sketches vivid portraits of Christian dreamers and doers who committed themselves to restoring the Jews to their ancestral home more than a century before the reborn Israel joined the family of nations. In 1844, Warder Cresson became America’s official consul in Jerusalem; he held the stalwart conviction that God had created the United States specifically to facilitate the restoration of a Jewish homeland and that the American eagle would “overshadow the land with its wings” in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy.
In the same year, an influential Biblical scholar and professor at New York University authored The Valley of Vision; or, the Dry Bones of Israel Revived. In that book, George Bush (a very distant relation to the two future presidents of that name) called for “elevating” the Jewish people “to a rank of honorable repute among the nations of the earth” through “the literal return of the Jews to the land of their fathers.” Bush, meanwhile, took a decidedly dim view of the many celebrated preachers and teachers among his Christian contemporaries who anticipated Christ’s “second coming” as imminent or predictable—he denounced their calculations as “one of the most baseless of all the extravaganzas of prophetic hallucination.”
For critics of evangelical involvement with Israel, the obsession with Biblical prophecy in any form counts as not only distasteful but dangerous, serving to encourage the most intransigent segments of the settler movement and other right-wing forces in the Israeli polity. Zev Chafets, who spent 33 years in politics and journalism in Jerusalem (including service as chief press spokesman for Prime Minister Menachem Begin) sets the record straight in his 2007 book A Match Made in Heaven. “The evangelical-Israeli alliance is not a pact between Christian and Israeli religious nuts,” he writes. “It is a well-established relationship between the leaders of evangelical American Christianity and mainstream Israel. Every prime minister since Begin has relied on the support of the Christian right.” Chafets goes on to point out that Ehud Barak, the last prime minister from the Labor Party, authorizes his name to appear as part of the faculty at Pat Robertson’s Regent University, in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
One of the reasons for this close working relationship between evangelical activists and Israeli leaders of every stripe involves the key difference between Christian Zionists and their American Jewish counterparts: Christian conservatives feel no compulsion to tell Israelis how to run their country. Unlike leaders of major Jewish organizations, the born-again brigades provide the elected leaders of Israel with virtually unconditional support, even when they may harbor deep doubts about certain policies. In 2005, Ehud Olmert (then deputy prime minister) arranged an off-the-record meeting with skeptical leaders of the conservative Christian community in order to make the case for the then pending “disengagement” from Gaza. The participants not only provided a respectful reception for Olmert’s message but even suggested a kosher caterer for the extended meeting—a gesture that the visiting Israeli dismissed as unnecessary.
It’s not only the leadership class in Jerusalem that embraces the alliance with evangelicals but also ordinary citizens of all religious and political perspectives. “The dislike and contempt for evangelical Christians that is so integral to American Jewish cultural and political thinking is almost wholly absent in Israel,” writes Chafets. “The average Israeli—even the average anticlerical secular Israeli like me—appreciates evangelical support.”
American Rejectionists naturally respond that it’s easy for people in Tel Aviv to pocket tourist dollars and relish warm sentiments from Christian conservatives because they face scant personal jeopardy from evangelical schemes to impose rigid theocratic rule on the United States. To highlight the purported dangers facing the Jewish community and other non-Christians in America, alarmists (such as journalist Michelle Goldberg in her 2006 book Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism) focus breathlessly on colorful, crackpot, fringe operations to suggest that their radical views characterize all or most of the nation’s 50 million evangelicals.
Fortunately, the hysteria over looming theocracy has receded significantly since George W. Bush went home to Texas. We hear far less today of bold, secularist Paul Reveres riding through the countryside to warn the populace, “The Christians are coming! The Christians are coming!” The obvious problem with the demonization of evangelicals is that their agenda involves no radical transformation of the long-standing status quo or any decisive break with American tradition. In high-profile battles over public expressions of religiosity, it’s almost always the antireligious who seek to eliminate some faith-friendly legacy from prior generations—removing Ten Commandments memorials from police stations, blocking student-led prayers before football games, or making sure that Christmas decorations give no hint as to the New Testament origins of the winter festival.
For those who fear the dreaded Christian right, the most legitimate nightmares involve a chilling return to the 1950s, with tough legal restrictions on abortion, nonsectarian prayers in public schools, universal acceptance of the death penalty, no government sponsorship for same-sex marriage, cultural disapproval of out-of-wedlock birth, and less graphic sex, violence, and language in popular entertainment. Twenty-first century sophisticates may shudder at the recollection of such horrors, but they hardly characterize an alien, dystopian dictatorship. Nothing in the mainstream evangelical agenda seeks to refashion America in a way that would make it unrecognizable to someone with memories (or knowledge) of pre-1960s society. If we accept the claim that Christian conservatives aim to impose an un-American theocracy, then that means accepting the idea that Dwight Eisenhower presided over an un-American theocracy.
The decades since Ike’s retirement certainly brought dramatic advancement for the cause of secularism, but it’s far less clear that all the changes served to advance the cause ofJudaism. The intermarriage rate, for instance, generally seen as a crucial indicator of communal coherence and vitality, skyrocketed from 10 percent a half century ago to a current estimate of half of all Jews who marry. In part, this reflects a welcome reduction in anti-Semitic attitudes; as the late Irving Kristol famously quipped: “The biggest problem with Christians used to be that they wanted to kill our children. Now it’s that they want to marry them.” But in addition to the decline of bigotry, the surge in intermarriage also stems from an increase in secularism in both the Jewish and Christian communities. Two unaffiliated, agnostic young people from contrasting religious backgrounds will be far more likely to commit their lives to each another than would, say, a Sabbath-observing, kosher-keeping modern Orthodox Jew and a church-going, Bible-studying, born-again Christian.
Religiously committed people on both sides are more apt to require conversion as a precondition of making a life together, which raises another visceral fear on the part of those who decry Judeo-evangelical cooperation: Christian conservatives will use any partnerships with Jewish organizations or individuals as a means to satisfy their “Great Commission” to win increased acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior. For suspicious Jewish Americans, the apparent attraction that evangelicals feel toward Jews is actually the attraction of predator to prey. “Sure, they look at us fondly,” says one of my good friends, who lives in Manhattan and works on network TV. “The same way Michael Moore looks fondly at a cheeseburger.”
Oh? A fascinating 2009 paper by Tom W. Smith of the American Jewish Committee highlighted “Religious Switching Among American Jews” based on 26 surveys by the National Opinion Research Center between 1972 and 2006. The numbers showed that those identified as Jewish at birth were slightly more likely to remain Jewish than born Catholics were to remain Catholic (76.3 percent to 72.6 percent), and slightly less likely than born Protestants (80.8 percent) to keep their religious affiliation. But when it comes to the destination of the religious switchers leaving their faith community, Jews stood out, with the overwhelming majority of departures (59.6 percent) to the religious affiliation known as “none,” rather than to any other organized religion. Less than half of 1 percent of the Jews in the survey altered their religious identity to join a Protestant denomination commonly counted as “evangelical” (such as Southern Baptist).
What’s more, the “gains” to the Jewish population through conversion into the faith (9.1 percent) actually made up a bigger portion of the current community than the percentage of converts among either Protestants or Catholics. And although departing Jews shifted mostly to the unaffiliated/atheist/agnostic categories, the great bulk of those converting to Judaism came from one of the recognized Christian denominations (71.5 percent). In other words, Jews gain far more from Christians becoming Jews than we lose from Jews becoming Christians—with an especially insignificant loss to Christian evangelicals. The interaction with the unaffiliated or the disengaged—the 15 percent of contemporary Americans who affirm no religious commitment at all—shows an opposite impact on Jewish numbers, with losses to Jews four times greater than gains.
As these figures strongly suggest, rampaging secularism represents a far greater threat to Jewish identity than does intensifying Christianity. As Dov Fischer, a California rabbi, trenchantly observed some three decades ago, we have less to fear from “Jews for Jesus” than we do from “Jews for Nothing.”1 This means that Jewish leadership made a disastrously bad bet some 50 years ago when it aligned the community with ardent secularists and militant separationists in pushing for a less distinctively Christian America, as if moving the nation in that direction would facilitate greater Jewish pride and affirmation. The fatuous illogic of this approach becomes apparent at the end of every year with the public agonizing over the “December Dilemma.”
Most Jewish leaders seek two clearly contradictory goals—agitating for the treatment of Christmas as a purely secular celebration at the same time that they try to discourage their fellow Jews from abandoning their distinctive identity and embracing Christmas traditions. It’s far easier to install a Christmas tree (or “Hanukkah Bush”) in a Jewish home if that seasonal symbol has been denuded of all religious meaning. As a celebration of the Resurrection, Easter has been far harder to secularize than Christmas, so, not surprisingly, relatively few Jews feel impelled to give up their Passover seders in order to attend sunrise services or Easter egg hunts. In fact, no one worries over an “April dilemma,” because all serious Christians observe the inescapably religious commemorations of Holy Week and Easter, and even nonserious Jews find their way to festive meals with matzo, wine, and bitter herbs.
Contrary to popular belief, religious vitality isn’t a zero-sum game: A more vibrant and engaged Christian community in no way undermines Jewish commitment. By raising significant religious questions within the society at large, conservative Christians urge Americans of all ancestries and outlooks to conduct their own explorations. If your Jewish family lives in a community where the great majority of your neighbors attend church on Sunday, you are probably more—not less—likely to consider venturing into synagogue on Saturday. In his 2006 book A Jew Among the Evangelicals: A Guide for the Perplexed, Mark Pinsky, religion reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, described how the Christian community he covered as a reporter led him to stronger identification with his own religious heritage. Even though he describes himself as a “Daily Show Democrat, voting for the furthest left candidate on the ballot,” he found that his interaction with deeply religious Christians (particularly the late Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ) led him to deeper involvement in his local Reform temple and to his wife’s conversion to Judaism after 24 years of marriage. “It’s made me a more committed Jew,” he told the New Jersey Jewish News.
If conservative Christians raise serious issues of faith and morality in the public square, and normalize activities such as communal worship and Bible study, they will strengthen rather than suppress the healthy impulse of unaffiliated Jews to reconnect with their own traditions. Vivid memories of church-based Jew hatred in Europe led too many American Jews to the mistaken assumption that we would benefit from a society that dismissed religious enthusiasm and in which faith in general played a less potent role. For Rejectionists, the continued commitment to this demonstrably dysfunctional assumption has produced the instinctive allergy to any alignment with evangelicals.
Nearly all Jews feel an urgent impulse to connect in some way with the values of our revered forebears, and for the assimilated and irreligious this instinct produces a powerful urge to reassert the two cherished family traditions that still remain: distrusting Christianity and voting Democratic. Both ancestral imperatives serve to make any cooperation with fervently religious Christians feel like the worst sort of apostasy. On the other hand, Jews who practice Judaism in some form can find better ways to honor their memories of Bubbe andZayde. In that sense, working with evangelicals facilitates greater Jewish religiosity, and greater religiosity facilitates comfortable collaboration with evangelicals.
Collaborationists who have put their ideas into practice universally suggest that associating with Christian conservatives has made them more Jewish, not less. In that context, it’s no longer necessary to promote the idea that Jewish Americans must overcome their horror at Christian influence for the sake of Israel’s security. The stronger argument insists that evangelical Christians deserve our friendship and cooperation because they aren’t just good for Israel; they’re good for America.
And even more unexpectedly, they’re good for American Jews.

Now some Evangelicals are turning away from Israel too

For most American Jews and Israelis, evangelical Christians are synonymous with zealous, biblically inspired support of the Jewish state—so zealous, in fact, that it makes some Jews uneasy. But the days when Israel could count on unconditional support from evangelicals may be coming to an end.
Last month, a conference convened in Bethlehem by Palestinian activists and Christian clergy long at odds with the Jewish state managed to bring a number of leading lights from the evangelical community in North America and Europe to the Holy Land. Many of thespeeches at the conference touched on themes that one would commonly hear at a BDS teach-in, like blaming the entire Middle East conflict on Israel’s occupation and the settlements.
Indeed, the name of the conference, Christ at the Checkpoint, is indicative of the different direction this segment of the evangelical movement is heading toward. The idea is that evangelicals should rethink their support for a state that occupies another people and oppresses them. Once they get the full story, conference organizers hope, Western evangelicals may find they have more in common with the downtrodden Palestinians than with the Israelis.
To pro-Israel evangelicals and Zionists who were paying attention, Christ at the Checkpoint was a wake-up call. The larger trend, which for want of a better phrase might be called the pro-Palestinian evangelical movement and is indeed spearheaded by Palestinian Christians, is already changing minds. Giving them momentum are money raised in the United States, theology, and perhaps most important of all, a movie. The documentary film With God on Our Side is leaving many former pro-Israel evangelicals wondering why they never heard the Palestinian side of the story.
Many friends of Israel, as well as Israelis, have long been concerned that evangelical support is premised largely on self-interest of an especially macabre nature. Israel, in this reading, is ground zero for the apocalypse: Before Christ can return to Earth, the Jews must return to Israel and the Temple must be restored, ushering in first a time of tribulation and then a reign of peace.
Of course, the apocalypse and Christ’s return is not the only justification for Christian support of Israel. Indeed, this end-time scenario embarrasses some evangelicals whose support is premised on the idea that God keeps his promises, not only to Christians but also to Jews, to whom God pledged the land of Israel. This conviction is further buttressed by a sense of historical responsibility, specifically to stand with the Jews and atone for the failure of Christians during the Holocaust to save the nation that gave them their savior.
Though the vast majority of evangelicals still maintain that support, for the first time since the establishment of Israel in 1948, there is an increasingly heated debate in the evangelical community that may augur a shift in the political winds. And if the Christ at the Checkpoint camp wins out, the pro-Israel Jewish community that once looked warily upon evangelical support may come to regard that movement with nostalgia.
“The debate in the Jewish community should not be about whether or not to be comfortable with Christian support for Israel,” David Brog, executive director of Christians United for Israel, told me last week. “Christians are going to be involved in the issue whether we are comfortable or not. The question is whether they’re going to be on Israel’s side or not.”
Christians United for Israel is the United States’ largest and best-known Christian Zionist organization. Founded in 2006 by John Hagee, pastor of the CornerStone Church in San Antonio, Texas, CUFI boasts over a million members. Hagee has found himself in the middle of political controversy in the past—most recently during John McCain’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign when his statements regarding the Holocaust were misinterpreted and McCain rejected his support. (Hagee declined to comment for this article.)
Hagee and other figures base support for the Jewish state on biblical foundations, specifically on Genesis 12:3, where God tells Abraham, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee.” The message is clear: Those who support Israel will be rewarded by God. But pro-Israel evangelicals have sent their flock out into the field vulnerable—that is, without an account of the conflict that besets the citizens of the present-day homeland of the Jews. Armed only with a biblical defense of the Jewish state, evangelicals are unprepared to justify it on political grounds.
This gap has made room for people across the cultural and ideological spectrum—whose motivations run the gamut from genuine compassion for Palestinians to anti-Semitism—to fill the space with their own interpretations of contemporary Middle East history. Not surprisingly, many of these narratives tend to be drawn from precincts of the left, like the BDS movement, that are known for their hostility to the Jewish state. What is peculiar is that these accounts are being entertained and sometimes embraced in evangelical churches, Bible schools, and Christian colleges that are not typically known for their progressive politics.
It wasn’t difficult for these Christian critics of Israel to find a weak link in the Christian Zionist narrative—it’s the ethical morass inherent in the formulation of Genesis 12:3. The children of the Bible, Christians as well as Jews, believe that all people are created in God’s image and are therefore born with individual dignity. But if people of faith are supposed to bless Israel because they’ll be blessed in return, then they are treating others, Jews and Arabs, not as individuals but rather as instruments in their own spiritual drama.
You can’t treat people as chess pieces, says Porter Speakman Jr., the 40-year-old director ofWith God on Our Side. This 82-minute-long documentary, which premiered in 2010 and is now being shown at churches and college campuses, has had a major role in tilting evangelical opinion, especially among young people, against Israel. Speakman told me in a phone interview that isn’t aim isn’t to “delegitimize Israel, but to be critical of policies that are having an effect on real people’s lives.”
“I grew up in a Christian home in the south, where not to support Israel was to go against God,” Speakman told me. He said he made the film in order to explore a question that he thinks has been missing from the conversation in the evangelical community. That is: “What are the consequences of my beliefs and my theology for real people living on the ground?”
With God on Our Side follows the intellectual odyssey of Christopher Harrell, a twenty-something recent film-school graduate, who is trying to come to grips with the reality of the Arab-Israeli conflict. This is a very different story from the Bible-based injunctions that formed his spiritual life as a child. The film’s narrative trajectory starts with Harrell’s parents, who he recalls once celebrated Passover—“I’m not sure why we did that. We’re not Jewish. We’re just this normal American Midwestern family”—and who support Israel because that’s “just what everyone did.” The film moves then to a series of interviews with figures in the evangelical community known for their animus toward Zionism, like Gary Burge and Stephen Sizer, and writers outside the evangelical milieu whose reputation rests on their hostility to Israel, like Ilan Pappé and Norman Finkelstein.
These interviews challenge the mainstream evangelical narrative with well-worn accusations typical of BDSers. For instance, the Israeli occupation, says one South African evangelical, is“apartheid on steroids.”
“Growing up,” Speakman said of his childhood, “there was never a choice, you were supposed to love and support Israel. That meant following Genesis 12 as well as a fulfillment of endtime prophecies. But does supporting Israel mean supporting all of Israel’s geopolitical decisions?”
Speakman, who lived in Israel with his wife from 1998 until 2003, said that he thinks the role of Christians is to support both Jews and Arabs in their search for a solution. But some criticsof his documentary think that the film goes much further. They see it as making the case that evangelicals have taken the wrong side—favoring a nation inhabited by those who rejected Jesus as their savior rather than the Christian communities that have existed in the Holy Land since the time of Christ. The issue is that key segments of the Palestinian Christian community have a vested political interest in delegitimizing Zionism—a fact that Speakman and other Western activists in the evangelical community may or may not be aware of.
Among the Palestinian outfits leading the campaign critical of Israel is the Bethlehem Bible College, which organized Christ at the Checkpoint, for which Speakman served as a media coordinator. The most prominent and active organization is the Jerusalem-based Sabeel, headed by a Palestinian Anglican priest, Rev. Naim Ateek. Its American branch, Friends of Sabeel North America, is based in Portland, Ore., and raises money for its Jerusalem affiliate.
“Sabeel is nakedly hostile to Israel,” Dexter Van Zile, Christian media analyst for CAMERA, told me in an interview. In an article on Sabeel and Ateek published last week, Van Zile quotes the clergyman at length, including this peculiar admission: “From my perspective as a Palestinian Christian, Zionism is a step backward in the development of Judaism.”
According to Randy Neal, Western Regional Coordinator of CUFI, the ideological foundations of the pro-Palestinian Christian movement are grounded in both liberation theology and replacement theology. The first is a politicized doctrine that requires a continual mindset of victimhood, in order to solicit political sympathy and action on behalf of the “oppressed” against the “oppressors.” The latter holds that the church has replaced Jews as God’s chosen and become the real Israel.
“It’s not just that church has replaced Israel,” said Neal, but for many of the Palestinian Christian clergy and their activist sympathizers, “the Palestinian church is the real church. Jesus, on this reading, was an underdog, who came to champion the underdog. He was oppressed by the Romans, so if you are Christ-like, you are also oppressed, like the Palestinians. This increasingly includes the idea that Jesus was a Palestinian. It’s an adopted narrative that is believed to have started with Yasser Arafat, but to some people it’s become a gospel fact.”
In other words, it’s a narrative that denies Jesus’ Jewish identity. “It is a very ugly expression of Christian anti-Semitism,” Neal said.
But Brog, Neal’s colleague, disagrees: “anti-Semitism is not the driving force.” Rather, he said, the impetus comes from a combination of two ideological streams. “There’s the anti-Israel perspective, which comes from the Palestinian Christians, who are using theology to preach a politically anti-Israel message. And then there are the Christians based in North America and Europe who are allowing liberal politics to trump Christian beliefs.”
The unpleasant reality is that Christian anti-Semitism has as much, if not more, theological justification as Christian support for Israel. Compared to two millennia of Christian anti-Semitism culminating with the Holocaust, one biblical verse is a pretty thin thread on which to hang support of the Jewish state.
Neal says that he believes Christian love of Israel is premised on Genesis 12:3 and on Joel 3:2: “I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will enter into judgement with them there for my people, my heritage Israel.”
“We are supposed to love what God loves,” Neal said. “We consider ourselves ambassadors of Christ. For centuries, Christians abused and abandoned the apple of God’s eye, and we are not going to let that happen again on our watch.”
But as CUFI pushes Genesis and Joel, the Christ at the Checkpoint crowd is focused exclusively on Palestinians’ distress and apparently ignoring history. CAMERA’s Van Zile, who attended last month’s conference, noted that nowhere in the pro-Palestinian evangelical narrative is there any account of Jewish persecution. “I’ve heard moving testimony about Palestinian suffering. But they don’t acknowledge Muslim anti-Semitism. They don’t talk about Palestinian leadership, or how it’s abused the Palestinian community. There’s no account of Hamas in their story about Israel.”

will the presbyterians side with the murderers, suicide bombers and terrorists?

Presbyterians Debate Anti-Israel Measures

July 8, 2010

Dear Friend of Israel,

The Presbyterian Church (USA) -- one of the “mainline” Protestant denominations that used to make up the religious establishment in this country -- is once again embroiled in controversy for its stance on Israel. In the past, the denomination was at the forefront of the anti-Israel divestment movement. At its biennial General Assembly the group has considered an array of resolutions and statements harshly critical of Israel.

As I write this, the PCUSA is again holding its General Assembly, and is again considering adopting controversial statements against Israel. On the agenda this year is a report titled “Breaking Down the Walls” by the church’s Middle East Study Committee (MESC). Critics have lambasted the report for legitimizing doubts about Israel’s right to exist, for endorsing a notorious document authored by virulently anti-Israel Palestinian leaders , and for calling on both Iran and Israel to “refrain from nuclear arms proliferation” -- as if peaceful, democratic Israel and bellicose, authoritarian, Israel-hating Iran pose a similar threat to the Middle East.

But the tide may be turning against the anti-Israel faction in the PCUSA. It is significant and heartening to note that more and more people, including Presbyterians, are speaking out against the MESC report. One pastoral letter signed by a number of prominent Presbyterians called the report “unbalanced, historically inaccurate, theologically flawed, and politically damaging.” Guastav Niebuhr, a prominent religion writer and great-nephew of Reinhold Niebuhr, perhaps the preeminent Protestant theologian of the 20th century, said in a blog post co-written with Katharine Henderson that the report “strays from this path to peace-building and instead deals in neatly-assigned roles Israel as oppressor, Palestinians as victims.”

Still, the fact that such resolutions are even considered for approval at all is a sign that the anti-Israel sentiment in mainline Protestant denominations like the PCUSA runs deep. Despite their lessening influence, the decisions made by these denominations do have an effect on public opinion, and can help influence policy. That is why we must continue to hope and pray that their influence diminishes and that the influence of the majority of Christians who love and support Israel continues to rise.

The PCUSA likely won’t make a decision on “Breaking Down the Walls” until their General Assembly ends later this week. But there is much you can do as this denominational debate continues. First, you can stay abreast of these developments on our Stand for Israel blog. If you are a member of a PCUSA congregation, ask your pastor to speak out against this anti-Israel document. Voice your support for Israel in the political realm. And, of course, pray that the world will come to a truer understanding of the dynamics in the Middle East and stand united in support of God’s chosen people.

With prayers for shalom, peace,

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein

Letter to the Presbyterian Church (USA) on Middle East Study Committee's "Breaking Down the Walls"
JUNE 29, 2010
On June 29, 2010 the following letter was approved by supermajority vote of regular members as an official communication of the CCJR concerning a proposal before the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Report on

“Breaking Down the Walls: Report of the Middle East Study Committee to the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)”
Primary authors, Adam Gregerman and Christopher Leighton,
Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies, Baltimore, MD

Dear Commissioner:

The Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations, a network of academic and educational organizations that promotes mutual understanding between Jews and Christians, recently assembled a scholarly subcommittee of members to examine the new report, “Breaking Down the Walls,” by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Middle East Study Committee. The MESC report’s authors state that their purpose for writing is to offer “priestly, prophetic, and pastoral” perspectives on conflicts in the Middle East, above all the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (p. 1). It will be voted on at the Church’s General Assembly in July in Minneapolis.

Because of the report’s extensive discussions of religious texts and topics relevant to relations between Jews and Christians, the CCJR has decided to offer a response. This report has already prompted statements from numerous Jewish and Presbyterian groups. While most have dealt primarily with historical and political issues, we focus largely on the theological and exegetical issues that are raised in the report, especially as they relate to trends in Jewish-Christian relations. We also recognize the diversity of views among CCJR members regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and do not evaluate the policy recommendations and historical sections in the report.

Like the authors, we urgently hope to see a speedy and peaceful resolution of this conflict. We express our deep concern for the many on all sides who are suffering. It is appropriate for our religious communities to encourage peacemaking efforts, including constructive engagement by the American government. Neither the Israeli government nor the Palestinian leadership is immune from criticism. Likewise, we expect that foreign organizations and governments, including our own, as well as religious groups will play a responsible role. In particular, we view with dismay interventions by outsiders to ratchet up hostility and violence for their own religious or political ends.

However, we offer a critical evaluation of the MESC report, and identify serious theological and exegetical problems. These include imbalanced or unreliable analyses of religious themes, highly questionable interpretations of biblical passages, and statements reminiscent of traditional Christian anti-Judaism. We believe that this report will harm interfaith relations in the United States and the Middle East, and undermine the prospects for effective negotiations and positive outcomes for all parties.
We have chosen to highlight selected issues that we found especially troubling:

The report’s biblically-based critique of the political decisions of the State of Israel reflects problematic hermeneutical assumptions.

First, without explanation, the report assumes that biblical passages addressed to ancient Israel can be applied to the modern State of Israel. This is evident in the extensive focus on passages under headings such as “Zion” and “Covenant and Land,” chosen for their perceived usefulness in supporting criticism of the political policies of modern Israel (pp. 11, 14-23). However, this is a simplistic and selective analogy between the ancient Israelites and modern Israelis. It ignores the complex issues involved in reapplying millennia-old statements, whether denunciations or affirmations, to later generations of Jews in very different circumstances. We caution against any attempt, by the Presbyterian Church or by other religious groups, to offer a theological evaluation—positive or negative—of the policies of the modern State of Israel through analogy with biblical Israel. The report’s approach is reminiscent of a traditional Christian anti-Jewish perspective, now widely rejected by Western churches, of viewing contemporary Jews as modern versions of biblical Jews, against whom one can reapply biblical critiques of injustice and unfaithfulness. It differs only in its politics from the problematic approach of Christian Zionists and others who reapply biblical promises and affirmations to the modern State of Israel.

Second, also without explanation, the report presents a biblical concept of justice as the dominant theological principle by which to analyze the policies of the State of Israel (pp. 11-27; cf. pp. 38; 59ff.). It is true that justice, though interpreted in diverse ways, is an important biblical and religious value. Nonetheless, the report overlooks or subordinates other, equally relevant theological concepts to justice, which it then uses in a strictly circumscribed fashion. It almost entirely appeals to justice in order to derive a few standards of behavior that can then be applied to modern Jews (but not Palestinians), subsumed under the heading of “[treatment of] others different from ourselves” (p. 13). Again, this approach, emphasizing not only this one principle but just a few specific standards, is highly selective and even biased. What is clear is that it reflects the report’s intention to demonstrate Jews’ failures to fulfill their “covenant responsibilities” because of the actions of the Israeli government (p. 23).

The report is theologically inconsistent. As noted, it often links ancient Israel with the State of Israel in order to reapply biblical critiques to modern Jews. However, without any discussion or exegesis, the report refuses to explore theologically the modern Jewish experience of a (partial) end of exile and the creation of the State. These, the report asserts, should be seen entirely in secular terms and not “validated theologically” as reflections of God’s will (p. 22). Yet this results in a serious tension, and perhaps contradiction in the report. It is logically inconsistent to then criticize the State of Israel for not fulfilling its covenantal (i.e., theological) responsibilities. While denying that the creation of the State reflects divine intentions or is the fulfillment of God’s biblical promises to the Jews, the report insists that actions of the modern State will lead God to punish the Jews (pp. 15, 18). That is, the report implies that God’s involvement in Jewish history is strictly punitive. This furnishes another example of the unacceptability of any theology that simplistically links biblical and contemporary contexts.

A similar inconsistency is found in the report’s almost exclusive emphasis on biblical passages containing divine threats against the Jews, to the exclusion of passages that contain divine promises. For example, the report omits or dramatically de-emphasizes texts that refer to God’s promise of the land to Abraham and his descendants. It says Presbyterians believe “that the ‘land-grant’ to Abraham’s offspring described in Genesis is not so much a matter of ‘rights’ as it is a matter of ‘responsibilities’” (p. 18). Without explanation or interpretation, the report simply endorses this one-sided perspective on a complex biblical tradition, elevating threat above promise. It also misreads key passages to derive sharply critical meanings for modern Jews. For example, the citations of passages supposedly illustrating God’s warnings to Jews “about the potential loss of the promises [of the land] through deeds of injustice” misrepresent what the texts actually declare (p. 18, referring to Genesis 18:19; Leviticus 25:23-24, 38).

The report expresses disappointment that the creation of the State of Israel did not fulfill biblical hopes for the “dawn of an age of peace.” It sets the Bible’s eschatological dreams over and against Israel and the Jewish people. The creation of Israel, the report says, did not lead “other peoples and nations to worship and study the teachings of the one true God.” Likewise, though Jews benefited from the creation, “the longed-for age of peace and reconciliation has yet to come” to all humanity. This unrealistic comparison implies a unique clash between the State of Israel and God’s will for all humanity that would actually be true of any nation. It also recalls past accusations of Jewish false messianism and ethnocentrism (pp. 16-17).

The report implies a linkage between the ancient Israelites’ brutal “holy war” in Canaan and contemporary Israeli policies. Its denunciation of Joshua’s fulfillment of the “land promise” through “land violence” serves as a parallel to Israel’s actions, which it sees, like Joshua’s, as leading to “the displacement of the others who have long lived there.” However, this reference to Joshua’s genocidal slaughter (itself of questionable historicity) is a strikingly disproportionate comparison. Furthermore, this linkage suggests that modern Jews, while more often criticized for their disobedience to God (e.g., p. 37), are yet faithful to the most deadly and immoral aspects of the biblical tradition (p. 19).

While the authors reinterpret and sometimes reject biblical texts that might offer support to Israeli policies or the existence of the State, they consistently omit any discussion of whether Israeli or American Jews themselves rely on such texts or traditions. The report’s perspective on the political use of the Bible is largely unrelated to Jewish views on any of these complex topics. One would not know from the report that few Jews adopt such an exclusively theological view of the policies and existence of the State of Israel.

The report reveals a bias against Jews and Judaism, and is reinforced by supersessionist themes.

The report implies that the current plight of the Palestinians is fundamentally the result of Israel’s misdeeds, and specifically of Israelis’ unfaithfulness to the requirements of the Jewish religious tradition (p. 37-38). It does not subject any of the other parties in the region to a similar theological critique out of their own religious sources.

While it is appropriate for Presbyterians to rely upon Christian scripture in developing their own views, the report also cites New Testament passages when making demands upon Jews and Muslims. For example, the report suggests that the best model for reconciliation in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is “Christ’s death [which has] broken down the dividing wall of hostility between any two peoples” (p. 24, referring to Colossians 1:20; Ephesians 2:14). The report superimposes a Christological model that is either alien or irrelevant to Jewish Israelis and Muslim Palestinians.

Similarly insensitive is the choice of the title of the report, taken from this same verse in Ephesians. It hints at the report’s critique of Israel’s Separation Wall / Fence. However, it also recalls the New Testament author’s advocacy of the abrogation of the Torah because it divided Jews and Gentiles. For a report largely focusing on the policies of the State of Israel and partly addressed to Jews, the choice of this title and verse suggests a broader critique of Judaism generally.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) deserves credit for past efforts to improve Jewish-Christians relations. However, the MESC report, if approved in its present form, will not make a positive contribution. It fails to meet the Church’s own high aspirations to “establish a new basis of trust and communication with Jews” and never to countenance the “denigration of Jews or the belittling of Judaism” (see “A Theological Understanding of the Relationship between Christians and Jews” at We believe this report threatens to unravel a vital web of relationships, even as we respect and affirm its concern for the Church’s relationship with Palestinian Christians in their context and its urgent concern for peace. We are disappointed that it fails to offer a theologically responsible and coherent approach to an enormously complex issue and distorts the biblical witness in profound ways.

We offer these comments in a spirit of collegiality and a shared commitment to peacemaking and interfaith harmony. We want to repeat our genuine concern over the plight of the most vulnerable persons, caught up in protracted turmoil over which they have little control. We believe that Christians, Jews, and Muslims together should call upon all those with political responsibility and influence to work urgently to remedy the present intolerable situation.

We respectfully ask the General Assembly to consider our response in light of the serious concerns raised above before voting on the report.

The Ad Hoc CCJR Committee on the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Middle East Study Committee Report

Dr. Adam Gregerman
Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies, Baltimore, MD

Rev. Dr. Christopher Leighton
Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies, Baltimore, MD

Rev. Dr. John Pawlikowski
Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, IL

Rev. Dr. Peter A. Pettit
Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA

Dr. Ronald A. Simkins
Creighton University, Omaha, NE

As you have heard, when the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church (USA) convenes on Friday, the report of their Middle East Study
Committee "Breaking Down the Walls" will be voted on.
I believe that it is critical that Jews follow this issue because the
report is both anti-Judaism and anti-Israel in very disturbing ways. If
this passes, as may well be the case, it will be a serious step backward for
Christian-Jewish relations both in this country and around the world. There
has been a strong response today from the Council of Centers of
Christian-Jewish Relations [CCJR].
You can access the release here:
and the full text of the letter of response at ³click here² at the
middle of that page.
The 100+ page Presbyterian report is also linked there.
One of those involved in drafting the letter of response is Dr. Adam
Gregerman, who is the Jewish Scholar at the Institute for Christian and
Jewish Studies in Baltimore and my son-in-law.
There is unfortunately a good deal of material here for sermons,
bulletin articles, and responses in the Jewish and general press.

British Methodist Report on Israel - Simon Rocker (Jewish Chronicle-UK)
Jewish leaders have condemned a "skewed" report on Israel prepared by the Methodist Church, warning it could set back interfaith relations for years.
The report, to be debated at the church's national conference later this month, calls for a boycott of goods from "illegal" West Bank settlements, and political lobbying to end Israel's occupation and the "siege of Gaza."
Over the past few days, Jewish organizations in London and Manchester have protested about its contents in meetings with Methodist representatives.

Presbyterians push to demonize Israel
06/16/2010 21:45

Church's report unconvincing in support of Israel.
Talkbacks (26)
You probably don’t remember but before June 1967 there was peace in the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. There were no fedayeen, no terror attacks, no PLO. Only after it was “colonized in the 20th century” by Jewish immigrants from Europe who took “the land of Palestine from a majority of its inhabitants at gunpoint” did things go sour.

First came the Nakba, the catastrophe that was the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, followed 19 years later by the “illegal” occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

That’s the view the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) will be asked to endorse next month when it meets in Minneapolis to consider a report by its Middle East study committee.

Peace could again prevail over the land if the Israelis would only withdraw from all the lands occupied in 1967. To that end, the report calls for the US to halt all military and economic assistance for Israel.

“If there were no occupation, there would be no Palestinian resistance,” says the report.

The Israeli occupation is “the major obstacle to regional stability” and is “an evil that must be resisted and removed.” The authors show they understand “resistance” is a euphemism for terrorism, but say it is the Israelis’ own fault for inflicting so much suffering on the Palestinians.

“Resistance is a right and a duty for the Christian.”

IT WOULD be too easy to dismiss such unreality as terminal naïveté, but there is something much more poisonous here.

The 172-page PCUSA report says the “primary” cause of the Middle East conflict is “the ongoing Israeli occupation...

and American complicity in this unjust enterprise.”

You can read it at pdf/middleeastpeace- fullreport.pdf. It also includes a lengthy Kairos Palestine document, by an affiliated group of Christian Palestinians, that further pushes the demonization and delegitimization of Israel.

Taken together, the contempt for Israel is so blinding that it not only justifies Palestinian terror against the Jewish state but is little bothered by the avowed goal of Hamas and Hizbullah, like their Iranian mentors, to wipe Israel off the map.

But that may be because the authors question whether Israel should be on the map in the first place. The report insists “we support the existence of Israel,” but that is unconvincing in the context of the entire document.

This document ignores Arab refusal to recognize the Jewish state, the attempts to destroy it at birth and the threats to drive it into the sea. It was the Jews’ own fault for being there in the first place. The report reaches back to biblical times to delegitimize Jewish claims to the land. Jacob, aka Israel, stole the birthright from his brother Esau and refused later entreaties to combine their interests and dwell in the land together.

(Proof those Jews can’t get along with anyone.) It denies that the Jews have “rights” to the land as Abraham’s descendants, only “responsibilities... for what is being done in and with it.”

Abraham’s covenant applies equally to Jews and Christians.

The ancient Hebrews under Joshua took the land illegally from the Canaanites by “holy war.” In a very revealing footnote (p. 21), it says: “The phrase ‘the right of Israel to exist’ is a source of pain” for authors of the report, “who are in solidarity with Palestinians who feel that the State of Israel has denied them their inalienable human rights.”

While questioning Israel’s Law of Return for Jews, it insists there must be a “right of return or compensation” for Palestinians “to Palestine- Israel.”

National Jewish organizations, which the report accuses of “complicity in the excesses of Israeli policy,” have unders t a n d a b l y denounced the document.

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism has said it is “distinctly onesided, traffics in troubling theology, misr e p r e s e n t s Jewish history.”

ADL has called it a “toxic mix of bad history, p o l i t i c a l l y motivated distortions and o f f e n s i v e attacks on Judaism and Israel.” The Jewish Council of Public Affairs has called it “blatantly anti-Israel and reduces the Arab-Israeli- Palestinian conflict to a caricature of right and wrong.”

“It’s a highly-selective use of text, history and circumstances to form an anti-Israel narrative,” said JCPA’s Ethan Felson. “They give significant voice to anti-Zionists, condemn companies that sell to Israel and allow for the demonization of Israel. That’s several red lines.”

AT ITS 2004 meeting PCUSA voted for divestment from Israel but was forced to back down two years later when many members objected, but this latest report leaves little doubt its authors endorse the policy. The group promised to take a more balanced approach but so far there the evidence points in the opposite direction.

Next month’s PCUSA meeting in Minneapolis has an opportunity to reject the anti- Israel, anti-Jewish excesses of its study committee or to inflict further damage on the church’s relations with the Jewish community.

“The church has a choice to make,” Felson added. “There is much valid witness for Palestinians that does not call into question the church’s integrity or endanger its relationship with Jews, or they can choose this brand of witness with all its toxicity.”

The Presbyterians say their goal is peace, but their heavily biased assessment can only make peace harder to attain by reinforcing the growing skepticism by an Israeli public that sees delegitimization, not a twostate agreement, as the goal of the Palestinians and their supporters – and give fuel to those Palestinians who believe the time is coming when the world will force Israel to, in the immortal words of Helen Thomas, “get the hell out of Palestine.”

The gist of the horrible Presbyterians
To distill this extensive document down to its essence, in one language or
another you have to read carefully, this is what it says:

1. That Israel is a delegitimate entity that neither the League of Nations
nor the United Nations had the right to create.

2. That Israel was only created because of the Holocaust and the Arab
Palestinians are paying for it.

3. That tracing our roots to the land throughout the Bible and the course o=
Jewish history is worthless. We have no claim to *any part of the land of

4. Nevertheless, with a fundamentalist reading of the Bible, Israel should
behave according to it. *No one else has to act that way!*

5. That the *true and rightful* inhabitants of *Palestine* are the Arabs.

6. That it is the fault of the Jews for *all* the violence that has

7. That the occupation of the *all* areas since the Six Day War is a sin
against God.

8. That the United States should completely reverse its support for the
State of Israel by withholding financial and political aid until Israel
complies with resolutions from the United Nations, no matter how one-sided,
anti-Semitic, racist and suicidal they will be.

9. That companies should follow *BDS boycott, divest and
sanctions*against Israel.

10. That the conditions in Gaza are all Israel's fault.

11. That terrorism *against Israeli civilians *is legitimate.

12. That the problems of Christian Arabs, of which there are many, are
Israel's fault.

PLEASE Presbyterians. go to this site and watch and read

Friday, February 26, 2010
moral bottom of Presbyterian church

Presbyterians Usher in the Jewish Holiday of PurimDivestment and the War Against the Jews, Part 2010.

The Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUSA) is about to release a report which denounces Israel as a “racist” nation which has absolutely no historical, covenantal, or theological right to the Holy Land. The report calls for the United States to withhold financial and military aid to Israel and for boycotts and sanctions against Israel. That’s not all. The report also endorses a Palestinian “right of return” and “apologizes to Palestinians for even conceding that Israel has a right to exist.” According to the press release, it also states that Israel’s history begins only with the Holocaust and that Israel is “a nation mistakenly created by Western powers at the expense of the Palestinian people to solve the ‘Jewish problem’.”

In addition, PCUSA has also resolved to divest in companies that supply military equipment to the American Army, e.g. Boeing, Lockheed-Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, etc.

In 2004, this Church became the first mainline Protestant denomination in America to “approve a policy of divestment from Israel.” This was rescinded, but in 2008 the Church “created a committee dominated by seven activists holding strong anti-Israel beliefs. The lone member sympathetic to Israel, quit in protest when he saw their radical agenda.”

The Simon Wiesenthal Center notes that 46 members of the US Congress and Senate are Presbyterians and fears potentially “significant repercussions in the political domain” as well as a negative “impact on interfaith relations.” They urge us all to protest directly to the top leadership of the PCUSA “to stop this dangerous campaign which denies the legitimacy and security of Israel,” and to “reach out to your Presbyterian friends.”
Posted by truth seeker at 9:43 AM 0 comments
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Presnbyterian Church again on the attach vs Israel

hursday, February 25, 2010
Presbyterian Church's again blames wrong party
February 23, 2010

A statement from the Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) regarding the work of the General Assembly Middle East Study Team.

A human rights organization within the Jewish community has issued a statement about the report to the 219th General Assembly (2010) from the General Assembly committee to prepare a comprehensive study focused on Israel/Palestine. The statement says, “…we are deeply troubled that current moves underway in the Church radically depart from its 2008 commitment that its review of Middle East policies would be balanced and fair.”

The Middle East Study Team’s report, which will be released by Friday, March 5, 2010, contains a letter to the American Jewish community. The study team begins the letter by saying:

We want to be sure to say to you in no uncertain terms: We support the existence of Israel as a sovereign nation within secure and recognized borders. No “but,” no “let’s get this out of the way so we can say what we really want to say.” We support Israel’s existence as granted by the U.N. General Assembly. We support Israel’s existence as a home for the Jewish people. We have said this before, and we say this again. We say it because we believe it; we say it because we want it to continue to be true.

The team, which engaged in intensive study, meetings, and travel to the Middle East since their appointment following the 218th General Assembly (2008), continues:

And, at the same time, we are distressed by the continued policies that surround the Occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights, in particular. Many of us come to this work out of a love for Israel. And it is because of this love that we continue to say the things we say about the excesses of Occupation, the settlement infrastructure, and the absolute death knell it is sounding for the hopes of a two-state solution, a solution that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has supported for more than sixty years.

Several previous General Assemblies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have adopted statements about Israel/Palestine. Two excerpts:

In 2004: The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has approved numerous resolutions on Israel and Palestine, repeatedly affirming, clearly and unequivocally, Israel’s right to exist within permanent, recognized, and “secure” borders (for example: 1969, 1974, 1977, 1983, 1989, etc.). It has deplored the cycle of escalating violence—carried out by both Palestinians and Israelis—which is rooted in Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian territories (cf. statements of successive assemblies since 1967). Presbyterians have continued to be concerned about the loss of so many innocent lives of Israelis and Palestinians (see “Resolution on the Middle East,” approved in 1997, and “Resolution on Israel and Palestine: End the Occupation Now,” approved in 2003).” GA Minutes, 2004, p. 66.
In 2006: We call upon the church…”To work through peaceful means with American and Israeli Jewish, American and Palestinian Muslim, and Palestinian Christian communities and their affiliated organizations towards the creation of a socially, economically, geographically, and politically viable and secure Palestinian state, alongside an equally viable and secure Israeli state, both of which have a right to exist.” GA Minutes, 2006, p. 945.
I join the Middle East Study Team that will be reporting to this summer’s General Assembly in asking all people to continue to pray, and work, for the peace of Jerusalem."

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