By Dr. Aslam Abdullah, TMO Editor in Chief
In a letter addressed to Presbyterian Church, the Simon Wiesenthal Center is urging the leadership Church (USA) (PCUSA) to prevent the adoption of new policies that will put the important Protestant denomination on a collision course with Israel and its supporters. This is the first time in recent decades that a Jewish organization has openly attacked one of the most popular Christian denominations in America. Short of accusing Presbyterians anti-Semitic, the Jewish organization has targeted the seven members of the Presbyterian Middle East Committee for their views that challenge the Israelâ€™s official policies in the Middle East.
Rarely, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has spoken for human dignity of Palestinians or Arabs, yet it is in the forefront to defend the policies of Israel regardless of their brutalities.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Center, recently said, â€œWe 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. Instead, PCUSA leadership appointed a committee of nine, seven of whom were on record as holding anti-Israel positions. The sole member sympathetic to Israel soon quit in protest over the extremist ant-Israel political agenda reflected in its recommendations, which include a:
Â· a call for the US to withhold financial and military aid to Israel
Â· an apology to Palestinians for even conceding that Israel has a right to exist.
Â· embracing a document prepared by Palestinians that declares that Israel, if defined as a Jewish State, must be inherently racist. This document also denies any connection between biblical covenants and the Jewish people, and begins Israelâ€™s history only with the Holocaust, describing Israel as a nation mistakenly created by Western powers at the expense of the Palestinian people to solve the â€˜Jewish problem.â€™
Â· It calls for a boycott against Israel, and full right of Palestinian return, which would destroy the Jewish State. These recommendations effectively open up a theological front against Israel, to add to the diplomatic and academic ones pursued by other haters of Israel.â€
â€œIf such a one-sided draconian approach is adopted by the PCUSA, there will be permanent damage to the positive Interfaith relations,â€ Cooper added.
In an e-blast to 300,000 online activists (at http://tinyurl.com/PCUSAe-petition), the Jewish NGO is urged them to join its protest to PCUSA leaders and to also speak with their Presbyterian friends. â€œPCUSA has some of the staunchest supporters of Israel in its ranks,â€ added Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the Centerâ€™s Director of Interfaith Affairs. â€œThey are as frustrated as we are that their church leadership team spends so much energy on the Arab/Israeli conflict where there are relatively few Presbyterians who live in either Israel or the disputed territories, and spend too little energy on major human rights issues impacting Christians and Presbyterians who live in Muslim countries, China, and North Korea. We hope that our appeal to them will help them prevent a hostile takeover of an important American church group by an agendized minority.â€
Several American Christian groups see the latest attack by the Jewish organization on a Christian denomination as an attack on free speech. They say that for years the Jewish organizations have played the card of anti-semitism to intimidate Christians from adopting a balanced and neutral perspective on the conflict between Jews and Palestinians. â€œWe feel intimidated by many Jewish organizations in the US. They hound us and ensure that our career is destroyed if we are in public, said Christopher, who does not want his last name to be published for fear of retaliation. Researchers have pointed out that during the last 50 years at least 11 Congressmen have been targeted by several Jewish organizations for speaking up against the policies of the state of Israel.
Several Christian groups have questioned the Biblical defense of Israeli policies. They say that over the last several decades Zionist scholars have played with the sentiments of the people by justifying everything done by the state of Israel. It is estimated that several pro-Israeli churches receive unaccounted favors from Jewish organizations in Israel and in the US.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States.