Yesterday, November the 16th, out of concern, I wrote an e-mail to Dr. Hunter Farrell, the Director of World Missions for the PCUSA. I expressed my concern over the video “I Am Israel” placed on the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) web site.
As I have explained it is a video made by a radical Muslim and is full of the kind of anti-Semitic lies perpetrated among radical anti-Semitic groups. It includes such lies as:
"I am Israel. I have the power to control American policy. My American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) can make or break any politician of its choosing, and as you see, they all compete to please me. All the forces of the world are powerless against me, including the United Nations as I have the American veto to block any condemnation of my war crimes. As Sharon so eloquently phrased it, 'We control America.' "
Dr. Farrell graciously e-mailed me this morning, the 17th, early, stating that he was in Mexico and had “only intermittent access to Internet.” He stated that he was forwarding my concern on to Victor Makari. Makari, who is the coordinator for the Middle East Mission, was also sent the e-mail.
This evening after seven, I received this e-mail from Makari:
“The Rev. Dr. Hunter Farrell has forwarded to me your communication with him about the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, and asked that I reply on his behalf. As I am just getting ready to go out of town for a week's vacation before the long Thanksgiving weekend, actually to visit my aging father who is 94 in a nursing home, I wanted simply to acknowledge receiving your letter for now. I would ask you the favor of allowing me to reply after my return in the first part of December. By then I will have had an opportunity to read your posting thoughtfully and to send you a considered reply. I believe you deserve an answer that is not sent in haste, late in the evening.
Thank you for your understanding. I will write you again.”
I have, of course responded, suggesting that action on this issue needs to be addressed now.
Perhaps Makari does not realize how troubling is the message of “I Am Israel.” But I know that it should not be allowed to remain on the web site of the IPMN as it is an insult to all Jewish people and to all faithful Presbyterians.
Up-Date: I have received further communication this morning the 18th. This time from the Rev. Jay Rock the Coordinator of the Office of Interfaith Relations:
Here is his e-mail:
Dear Ms Larson,
It is not clear to me whether you are concerned about the "Steadfast Hope" video, or about the video "I am Israel", which is posted on the Israel-Palestine Mission network's blog.
This network is made up of Presbyterians, but is not an entity of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It is an independent group. It has its own officers and makes its own decisions (such as the recent decision to remove the link to an article by a source related to Hezbollah). By its own description, it “works in close cooperation” with offices of the PC(USA), but is not an extension of any one of them. In fact, those of us at the PCUSA Church Center usually learn about the efforts of the Network after they are done, or underway.
As you know well, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voices its official policy and opinion in a limited number of ways. It is at our General Assemblies that the church seeks God’s guidance on the variety of issues of the day and formally adopts policies and stances regarding them. The General Assembly alone determines the positions of the church. Based on these policies, and often directed by them, the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly and a few other staff may also speak for the church in limited ways. Other Presbyterians who speak out do so on the basis of their own conscience and, we hope, guided by the church’s discernment.
Since the network makes its own decisions about what it posts on its website, and what it publishes, please be in touch with them directly about your concerns. I have pasted in the information from their website to make it easier for you to communicate with them.
Steering Committee: [I have not added the list to this posting]
Yours in Christ's service,
Jay T. Rock
Coordinator for Interfaith Relations
Presbyterian Church (USA)
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202
Here is my answer:
Dear Rev. Rock,
Although I have written a great deal on the booklet Steadfast Hope, it is the video “I Am Israel” I am writing about. Perhaps you have not watched it, as the Coordinator for Interfaith Relations I believe you should. While I am not sure why you are the person who is responding to my complaint, I will be happy to clarify my reasoning for appealing, in the first place, to the Director of Missions, Hunter Farrell.
Under the subtitle “Who We Are,” the IPMN states that they were “Established by action of the 2004 General Assembly, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network encourages congregations and presbytery mission committees, task groups and other entities toward specific mission goals that will create currents of wider and deeper involvement with Israel/Palestine.”
Further, they state: “This network works in close cooperation with ecumenical partners and with the Office for the Middle East, the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, the Presbyterian Washington Office, the Presbyterian UN Office and with other appropriate entities of the General Assembly and General Assembly Council.”
I believe that if IPMN was established by the General Assembly and works in relationship with all of these other PCUSA organizations including the Office for the Middle East and the Washington and UN offices they must in some way be accountable to those offices. We are a connectional Church. What one part of the body does effects all. What the IPMN does has connectional consequences on all of those offices. And it has consequences for all members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
They film I am protesting insists that Israel has power over the whole world and over our media. It was made by a militant Muslim. Please read his comment on my blog. This is propaganda coming straight out of the years before World War II. Is this really what all of those Presbyterian Offices listed above want to say to the Jewish people of the United States or even the Jewish people of Israel?
Please do not insist that I go back to the organization that posted the film. The only thing they have written to me is “Thanks for your input.” Please be of some help.
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,