Since 2004, a small but determined advocacy group within the PCUSA, representing the Israel-targeted international Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) Movement, has lobbied the denomination to divest from several companies that supposedly support Israel’s occupation of the West Bank (These same companies support the Palestinian Authority (PA) as the PA attempts to build the West Bank’s economy). For the past decade, the BDS advocates have strenuously denied that they want to do the Jewish state of Israel any harm. They have said in numerous forums, “We are friends of Israel and we are doing what good friends do. We are trying to convince our friends to do the right thing and end the occupation.”
Events in 2014 reveal that these advocates are anything but Israel’s friends. The Israel Palestinian Mission Network (IPMN) and Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) have broadened their attacks on Israel with explicit challenges to Israel’s existence as the Jewish (Zionist) state it was created to be in 1947. These challenges are unambiguously rampant in the so-called “congregational study guide” created by IPMN called “Zionism Unsettled.” The materials in “Zionism Unsettled” argue that Zionism (a Jewish state) is inherently discriminatory, and that the very idea of a homeland for the Jewish people is illegitimate. The guide states that “The fundamental assumption of this study is that no exceptionalist claims can be justified in our interconnected, pluralistic world.” In other words, no nation can build its identity around religion, ethnicity or other category. The Irish, Armenians, Japanese or Czech’s may have a problem with the IPMN-PPF vision of a world with no nations rooted in religious or ethnic identity.
The BDS advocates go so far as to criticize Jewish prayer books around the world for including a prayer for the state of Israel. Of course, the same activists also want to eliminate from the new PCUSA hymnal the traditional category of hymns entitled “The Covenant with Israel.” They say the language embraces the oppression they claim Israel inflicts on others. Will the next step be to challenge “covenant with Israel” language in the Bible?
At the 2014 General Assembly we witnessed onslaught of anti-Israel initiatives:
Boycotts against Israeli products
Divestment from three companies doing business with Israel and with the Palestinian Authority
Labeling of Israel an apartheid nation
In addition, there was criticism of the new hymnal for using the phrase “God’s Covenant with Israel” to describe a few hymns, and attempts to deflect criticism of the outrageous study guide the IPMN is distributing through our denominational publishing house.
Add all of these strategies together and it is 100% clear that the true agenda of IPMN, PPF, and the secular BDS movement is to undo what the world did in 1947 when the international community came together to recognize the newly created Israel as a Jewish homeland.
Can it possibly be true that the lay people and clergy of the PCUSA believe that Israel should stop being a Jewish state, that it is an apartheid state, that we should penalize companies who do business on both sides of the West Bank border, that we should drop traditional understandings of hymns to advance a radical political agenda, that we want our mission dollars being spent to distribute a “study guide” that is being condemned by anybody with a more inclusive approach to the issues? We think not.