A New Wave Of “Vicious Anti-Zionism”

Andrew Sullivan —  Oct 21 2012 @ 8:18pm

The ranks of alleged "bigots" now extend to most of the mainline Protestant churches:

The signers, besides the Presbyterians, included leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the United Methodist Church, the National Council of Churches, the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the American Friends Service Committee (a Quaker agency) and the Mennonite Central Committee. Two Catholic leaders also signed, one with the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, an umbrella group of men’s religious orders.

What did they say, what word did they use, what "code" or "trope" did they slip into that proves their Jew-hatred? From a letter signed by 15 leaders of Christian churches:

Through … direct experience we have witnessed the pain and suffering of Israelis as a result of Palestinian actions and of Palestinians as a result of Israeli actions. In addition to the horror and loss of life from rocket attacks from Gaza and past suicide bombings, we have witnessed the broad impact that a sense of insecurity and fear has had on Israeli society.

We have also witnessed widespread Israeli human rights violations committed against Palestinians, including killing of civilians, home demolitions and forced displacement, and restrictions on Palestinian movement, among others. We recognize that each party—Israeli and Palestinian—bears responsibilities for its actions and we therefore continue to stand against all violence regardless of its source. Our stand against violence is complemented by our commitment to the rights of all Israelis, as well as all Palestinians, to live in peace and security.

Here's the response from the Jewish Council For Public Affairs:

The letter signed by 15 church leaders is a step too far. The participation of these leaders in yet another one-sided anti-Israel campaign cannot be viewed apart from the vicious anti-Zionism that has gone virtually unchecked in several of these denominations… Their stony silence to the use of anti-Judaism and relentless attacks on the Jewish state, often from within their own ranks, speaks loudly to their failure to stand up and speak the whole truth about what is occurring in the Middle East.

Funny, but in the quote from the churches I just cited above, there is no "stony silence" at all – in fact a clear defense of Israelis right to be free from the pain and suffering caused by terrorism by Hamas and others. So what's the point of the letter? “We asked Congress to treat Israel like it would any other country,” the Rev. Gradye Parsons, the top official of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) told the Times, “to make sure our military aid is going to a country espousing the values we would as Americans — that it’s not being used to continually violate the human rights of other people.”

That's "vicious anti-Zionism?" It would be if it were only applied to Israel. But it isn't:

Humanitarian aid to the Palestinian Authority was suspended last year because of violations, and Congress is re-evaluating aid to Egypt, noted Peter Makari, the executive for the Middle East and Europe in global ministries of the United Church of Christ and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), who helped write the letter. “The need to hold Israel as accountable as other countries in the region is important,” he said.

If humanitarian aid can be suspended for the struggling Palestinians, cannot military aid be suspended for the prosperous Israelis? It seems to me that aid of all kinds should have basic human rights strings attached to it. I would have suspended all aid to Israel when it refused to stop its settlement policy on the West Bank, but that's a little like being in favor of an immediate space station on Mars, given the Greater Israel lobby's grip on Congress.

So let me just reiterate something that has no chance of ever happening, but I might as well put on the record: we should treat Israel as any other recipient of US aid. If a country is occupying and settling land conquered through war, if it's treating a minority population with inhumanity, the US should stand up for Western values. It should not single Israel out; but we have to stop treating Israel as the exception to every other US foreign policy rule.