Months ago the Kirk, the Church of Scotland, was the subject of an article I wrote. Scotland is a country unique among European nations, in that it remains the only nation not to have had an act of overt anti-Semitism in its history. That article related to the impact of the BDS movement on the Scottish group.
Today the American counterpart of that church, Presbyterian Church USA, is assembled for its biennial General Assembly in Detroit. At that assembly, the congregated representatives of churches from all over the country today voted down a document entitled Zionism Unsettled which was to have become US church policy.
As has been reported through numerous resources, the contents of that evil document do not reflect the attitudes of the majority of Presbyterians. Yet, if it had been approved, the Presbyterian leadership would have marked Zionism as a supremacist movement. Furthermore, per that article, since the establishment of the State of Israel in May, 1948 that the newly formed state was responsible for both ethnic cleansing and for mass expulsion of the Palestinian Arabs. Moreover the document compared the acts of the Jewish State to the villainy of Hitler’s Nazi regime. It is no wonder that the document is being pushed intensely by none other than David Duke.
If readers do not recall, Duke is a former grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. With a doctorate to his credit as well as a stint in the US Senate, Duke’s supremacist roots cannot be forgotten. For his views on Zionism Unsettled, read his website. Can anything that this reprehensible individual advocate is taken seriously, especially by a group supposedly devoted to moral superiority, as should be any national, church body? He was one of the slated speakers at the biennial. It is good to know that his effort failed.
Why is it that rewriting history has become so acceptable in recent years? One can imagine reconfigurations of ancient history. Distance in time allows for greater interpretation of long past events. Yet in recent years the world has witnessed growth of the Holocaust denying community. With publication of Zionism Unsettled, there is an effort to promulgate a rewrite of Israeli history.
Zionism Unsettled claims that Israel has practiced ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian community since its inception. How could this be? There was no group identifying itself as Palestinian until 1967 in the wake of the Six Day War. Furthermore, even if one identifies every Arab living in the land of Israel as Palestinian, there was no Jewish controlled expulsion of Arabs. Arab masses fled the land and to this day are located in refugee camps outside the Green Line. Yet they were not pushed out by the new State. Israel’s declaration of independence called for religious freedom and friendship with all neighbor states. What became of the local Arabs? They were asked to leave en masse by Egyptian leader Gamel Abdel Nasser in his effort to drive the Jews into the sea. Nasser did not want Arabs in the way of his military putsch. How can any forget that Arab armies gathered to eradicate the Jews in the Jewish State on the day after Israel was declared, again in 1956, again in 1967 and later in 1973? Rather than cleanse the country of Arabs, the Israeli government accepted Arabs as valued members of the community. Arab political parties regularly are represented as member of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. Instead of denying their culture, Israel counts Arabic as one of its three official languages. To improve Palestinian lives, Israel has provided better economic opportunities, developed numerous schools for students of all ages, and established several universities and colleges that serve Arab students.
Have Palestinians cooperated? Although they signed peace treaties, they have yet to recognize Israel as a legitimate, Jewish state. Has the Palestinian Authority ever lived up to the Oslo Accords? Palestinians sponsored two intifadas. Yet after Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, Hamas utilizes Gazan bases to shoot rockets at civilian targets inside Israel. Last week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned Hamas for the kidnapping of three Jewish teenagers. Then Israel was condemned by several American government leaders for daring to demand that Abbas condemn Hamas actions.
Thankfully the Presbyterian synod was not duped. Zionism Unsettled was voted down. The Presbyterians need to be appreciated for exhibiting good sense through a lopsided vote. That this document came to a vote is a different matter. Yet the failure of this effort does not end continuing anti-Semitic/anti-Israeli efforts. The Jewish community must remain ever vigilant to stop painful lies from spreading. Hopefully members of all faith communities will cooperate.