The Withering Support for Israel

USIsFlags_LGLast week the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church voted 310-303 to sell stock in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions in order to divest their investments from corporations they deem to be supportive of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.  The press release from the Presbyterian Church said the three companies in question are alleged to be engaging in “non-peaceful pursuits.”  There have been previous attempts at the General Assembly to pass the divestment but the vote always failed until this year.  The Presbyterians are now the most prominent religious group in the United States to use divestment as a protest against the Israeli occupation and its policies toward Palestinians.  Although their press release attempts to claim otherwise, by divesting from Israel the Presbyterians are symbolically aligning themselves with Hamas.  The same Hamas that continually launches rockets into Israel and that just kidnapped and murdered three Israeli youths.

The press release also states that before the vote there were apparently some who were concerned that passing the divestment would “mistakenly align the PC(USA) with the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.” The divestment overture was amended to read: “This action on divestment does not mean an alignment with the overall strategy of the global BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) movement.”  However, the divestment fact sheet released by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church clearly states that boycotts are effective and that the General Assembly has “consistently supported boycott and divestment as ways to seek the end of exploitation and oppression of the poor, the confiscation of their resources, and the occupation of their lands.”  I fail to see how a church body could sanction a foreign country, so it appears that the Presbyterian Church has effectively voted themselves into the global BDS movement, in spite of their claims to the contrary.

The Presbyterian Church also has an official church pamphlet called “Zionism Unsettled.”  David Harsanyi writes for The Federalist and describes “Zionism Unsettled” as going into “all kinds of well-worn anti-Zionist banalities; it scolds the Catholic Church for reconciliation with Jews; it denies Jews the moral right to self-defense while simultaneously rationalizing the use of terror.”

In the second paragraph of the Hamas Charter, it states: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”

There has been not one word from the Presbyterians about removing that sentence.  They call for a “just peace” but fail to condemn the continued attacks on Israel by Hamas.  A terrorist organization that calls for the obliteration of Israel and the death of every man, woman and child within it has made it clear what their idea of peace is – no more Israel.  The Presbyterians have aligned themselves with terrorists who believe the only roadblock to Middle East peace is the continued existence of Israel.

The Presbyterians are not the only organization to divest from Israel.  Last week the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church voted to sell $110,000 of stock in G4S, a security company that contracts with Israel to provide security equipment.  A news release said the board sold the shares “due in part to concerns about the company’s involvement in human rights violations in the Israeli prison system and the military occupation of Palestinian territories.”

Other churches and organizations that have either considered divestment or voted to enact it include the World Council of Churches, the United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Many student bodies and student unions at universities have voted on divestment resolutions, with some passing.  Harvard, DePaul, Loyola Chicago, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, University of Michigan, University of Washington, UC Santa Cruz, Cornell, Brown, Columbia, University of Wisconsin, University of South Florida and California State University are some that I found in just a couple of minutes and there are many others.

Entertainers have also jumped on the boycott bandwagon, either refusing to perform in Israel or cancelling scheduled performances.  Carlos Santana, Jon Bon Jovi, Stevie Wonder and Elvis Costello are a few.  Two founding members of Pink Floyd just recently called on The Rolling Stones to cancel a scheduled concert in Israel.  They said in an op-ed, “Playing Israel now is the moral equivalent of playing Sun City at the height of South African apartheid.”

Religious groups, educational entities and entertainers aren’t the only ones to either distance themselves from Israel or show blatant hostility.  It’s no secret that the Obama administration is contemptuous of Israel and that Obama dislikes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intensely.  In an interview earlier this year Obama demanded continued concessions from Israel, but made no demands on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.  The PA’s refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist is a sticking point for Israel, but not for the Obama administration.  Jen Psaki, State Department spokeswoman, said in an interview, “There is no need for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.  The American stance is clear in that it recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, but there is no need for the Palestinians to recognize it as such in a final agreement.”  Secretary of State John Kerry has openly referred to Israel as an “apartheid state.”  Clearly, Obama and his administration are no friends of Israel.

The Republican Party is not without its own Israel detractors.  New Jersey Governor and potential presidential nominee Chris Christie was a Republican Jewish Coalition event in Las Vegas earlier this year and revealed his true views, referring to the West Bank as the “occupied territories.”  Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum has the lengthy details of Christie’s interactions and sums it up by saying that Christie’s views do not bode well for Israel and that he must not become the Republican nominee for president.

Senator Rand Paul, another potential presidential nominee, has made some remarks that have left some skeptical of his claimed support for Israel.  In an interview with Buzzfeed he said he struggled to reconcile his Christian beliefs with the notion of fighting wars.  He said, “I think some within the Christian community are such great defenders of the promised land and the chosen people that they think war is always the answer, maybe even preemptive war. And I think it’s hard to square the idea of a preemptive war and, to me, that overeagerness [to go to] war, with Christianity.”  A remark such as this is not likely to go over well with the evangelicals, many of whom have not forgotten his father, Ron Paul, and his distaste for Israel and its supporters.  Rand Paul also favors gradually cutting off all aid to Israel.  He does favor ending all foreign aid, but to include our strongest supporter in the Middle East is short sighted.  Giving up aid to Israel could have detrimental effects on Israel’s military as well as the ability of the United States to influence arms deals that go against our interests.  Under the current aid arrangement with Israel the United States has been able to influence more than one arms deal that Israel concluded with other countries.

Other potential GOP presidential nominees, such as Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, are solid Israel supporters.

And what of the American evangelicals?  They can no longer be counted on for unwavering support of Israel.  David Brog of the Middle East Quarterly has a very informative piece on the decrease in evangelical support for Israel.

Middle East Quarterly – The days of taking evangelical support for Israel for granted are over. As they are increasingly confronted with an evangelical-friendly, anti-Israel narrative, more and more of these Christians are turning against the Jewish state.

There is troubling precedent for such an about-face. At one time—prior to the 1967 war— the mainline Protestant denominations were among Israel’s most reliable American supporters. Israel’s opponents, therefore, targeted these denominations with mainline-friendly, anti-Israel messages. There are still many mainline Protestants who support Israel today. But to the extent the mainline denominations act corporately in connection with the Jewish state, it is to divest from it. And it is from Israel—not Iran—that they seek to divest.

In a similar fashion, Palestinian Christians and their American sympathizers are successfully promoting a narrative aimed at reaching the rising generation of evangelicals and turning them against Israel. As a result, more leaders of this generation are moving toward neutrality in the conflict while others are becoming outspoken critics of Israel. Questioning Christian support for the Jewish state is fast becoming a key way for the millennials to demonstrate their Christian compassion and political independence. In short, this population is in play.

Israel is the lone outpost for democracy and rationality in a region dominated by Islamic instability and violence, with murderous evil unleashed on all who oppose Islam.  That American support for Israel is waning is certainly troubling, but should also not be surprising.  As a Southern Baptist and an occasional reader of biblical prophecy, I am well aware that the day will come when every nation in the world will stand against Israel.  That will include the United States.  We are certainly headed in that direction.

“And I will bless those that bless you and curse the one who curses you. And in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3

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2 comments to The Withering Support for Israel

  • LD Jackson

    It seems to me that all of the hoopla surrounding Israel and its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza conveniently forgets the reason behind that occupation. Israel has been under the constant threat of attack since the day it was created. A great number of countries worked actively against the Jews, both before and after the creation of the Jewish nation. Its neighbors have consistently fought against Israel, both politically and with military force. Israel has fought back and carved an existence for itself and its people out of a very hostile environment.

    Let us not forget that it is the Arabs who hate Israel so much that they are willing to allow their own children to blow themselves up, just to kill a few Jews. As Golda Meir so aptly stated, “Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us”. There is a lot more truth in that statement than many of Israel’s detractors would care to admit.

    • Israel’s detractors all fall for the Arab stance that the Jews stole their land and kicked them out. I have always seen the anti-Israel sentiment in the United States to be tied to anti-Christianity. As our country veers hard left and gets more anti-Christian every year it does not surprise me in the least that our country also becomes more anti-Israel. As things get worse for Christians in our country it will get worse for Israel.