The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUSA) has passed a resolution entitled “On Recognition That Israel’s Laws, Policies, and Practices Constitute Apartheid Against the Palestinian People.”
While there definitely are practices and policies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that resemble Apartheid (see Michael Sfard’s legal opinion entitled “The Occupation of the West Bank and the Crime of Apartheid”), the Presbyterians have passed an appallingly one-sided and ahistorical resolution.
To name just two things (among many) that’s wrong here: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems only to have begun in 1948, with Palestinians being completely blameless; and it’s especially galling that there’s a “recommendation of the use of [the term] ‘anti-Jewish’ rather than ‘anti-Semitic,’ as the latter encompasses other people groups [sic] in addition to our Jewish siblings” — as if this term invented in the 19th century by European Jew-haters was also meant to apply to Arabs or other speakers of Semitic languages.
The Presbyterians for Middle East Peace, a moderate group within the PCUSA that supports a two state solution and reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians, has issued the following response to the PCUSA statement: “PCUSA slanders Israel,” expressing their anger and frustration. They charge that this year’s PCUSA General Assembly was tightly controlled by a clique of staff and committee members who restricted debate: “. . . Nary a Jewish voice was heard during the GA, [and] experts offering countering opinions were not allowed to speak. . .”
This dissenting statement concludes:
There will be no change to the status of Palestinians. They will continue to be oppressed by their own corrupt leaders as well as the state of Israel. Our actions of the past have not created any meaningful change, nor will this one. These actions make pro-Palestinian advocates in the PCUSA feel good. They accomplish nothing for the Palestinian people.
Extremists on both sides will use this vote to further their cause of terror and intimidation.
A large portion of the American Jewish community, in our hometowns, will label us as antisemitic. Some in the denomination will ignore it and say that we are not. Others in our denomination will say, “We don’t care what the Jews think.” . . . We cannot escape the reality that the Jewish community no longer views our denomination as a friend but instead an enemy riddled with advocates out to destroy Israel as a Jewish state.
We wish to thank all those who understand that the path to peace in Israel/Palestine will not be found on a path of anti-Israel rhetoric that offers nothing tangible to the Palestinian people. Instead, peace will be found by working in partnership with all who desire peace, including the American Jewish community, who are committed to working to improve the standing of Palestinians.