Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An exchange of e-mails concerning the video, "I Am Israel" Up-Date

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
T: 502-569-5289
F: 502-569-8039
C: 502-802-0019

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,

Viola Larson.


Jim Jordan said...

"I believe you deserve an answer that is not sent in haste, late in the evening."

Maybe that's what happened, they posted "I am Israel" in haste, late in the evening....But wait, if that were the case, they would have taken it down hastily [I've done this a few times with blog posts that I thought were hastily put together]. Must be that they put it there quite intentionally.

John said...

I believe the strong Presbyterian support of the Palestinian cause is motivated totally by empathy and compassion and real facts on the ground and not hatred toward Jews.

While this video clearly has a lot of anger, frustration. and perhaps despair, I don't believe it crosses the line into anti-Semitism. Most of the statements in the video tell the sad tale of ethnic cleansing by Israel. Most Americans are in ignorance or denial about what Israel is doing with our government's huge support.

People need to know how the Palestinians feel about the massive loss of life, livelihood, land and resources the Palestinians have suffered for the past 92 years as the Nakba continues day after day after tragic day.

I am asking some of my colleagues to see the video and tell me if they agree with me. If I find that most of them do, I will be fighting to keep the video on the website and even try to spread the word about it. Americans need to know what's really happening in the Israeli-controlled West Bank and East Jerusalem as well as what has happened in the past throughhout the region.

John A Wilde
Whitesboro NY
www.abundancetrek.com + “To be nobody-but-yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else -- means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting” – E. E. Cummings

Viola Larson said...

There is enough material on my blog postings and also with Dexter's comments to show that you are wrong. If you do encourage the use of the video I will have to finally say I believe you also are pushing anti-Semitic propaganda.

Viola Larson
Sacramento, Ca

Jim Jordan said...

Former pastor john wrote--I believe the strong Presbyterian support of the Palestinian cause is motivated totally by empathy and compassion and real facts on the ground and not hatred toward Jews.

"Motivated totally by empathy and compassion" is another way of saying some Presbyterians are pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel. And what are "real facts"? And, please, "on the ground", and "what's really happened"? What's next, "going forward, we must..."? Is punditry now a Presbyterian virtue?

I did notice you're telling point, the Nakba, or "Day of Catastrophe" commemorating the birth of modern Israel. Oh, sigh, it continues every day as those Jews fail to roll over and die. I should remind you that your "Day of Catastrophe" is biblical prophecy from the God who gave you the income you could retire on. If you hate so bitterly the day modern Israel was founded, how can you say you believe the Bible or even identify with it?
Jim Jordan
Fort Lauderdale, FL

Anonymous said...

I'm sure I don't have to mention this to you, Viola, but in case anyone is unaware of this, the 2004 General Assembly passed the following resolution:

"The Assembly Committee voted to approve the following resolution in response to Item 12-09 (66/0/1):

"1. Direct that the formation of a Worldwide Ministries Division-related Palestine Mission Network move forward as soon as possible, for the purpose of creating currents of wider and deeper Presbyterian involvement with Palestinian partners, aimed at demonstrating solidarity and changing the conditions that erode the humanity of Palestinians living in Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

"2. Authorize a feasibility study to be conducted by the Worldwide Ministries Division (WMD) of the General Assembly Council to explore the dimensions, costs, appropriate development approach, stability of political conditions, availability of expertise, and possible sources of funding, of an intentional and systematic effort of development and compassionate action in Palestine either by or through a team connected to the WMD-related Palestine Mission Network, and to make recommendations for concrete measurable action plans to the General Assembly Council at its fall meeting in 2005.

"[Original Financial Implications: 2005: $92,360; 2006: $59,930; 2007: $60,740; 2008: $52,090 (Mission-Unrestricted)]

"[Committee Action: 2005: $15,000; 2006: $0; 2007: $0; 2008: $0]"

This is authorization for what was apparently renamed the Israel Palestine Mission Network at some later date. I think it demonstrates beyond a doubt that Rev. Rock is, shall we say, being less than thoroughly truthful about the relationship between PCUSA and IPMN. In addition, while there has apparently not been any funding since 2006, obviously there were start-up costs that PCUSA funded, which also makes the two entities less tan independent.

I don't doubt that IPMN makes independent decisions about what goes on their web site. That doesn't change the fact that a GA-authorized and supported organization has run amok and posted anti-Semitic propaganda while Louisville makes like Pilate and tries to wash its hands of responsibility. I would suggest that the ties between the two, and the potential financial hit that PCUSA could take over something like this, may be the actual reason why it was removed.

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

Viola Larson said...

you are probably right David.

John said...

Let me say that I think that the removal of the video was a good thing. I believe a colleague of mine nailed it for me by pointing out that the video is not "anti-Semitic" but is "enemy-speak" and doesn't help people achieve mutual respect and reconciliation.

Viola, I would love to have you reflect on what Jim Jordan wrote here. Don't you think it was just a little mean-spirited?

Jim, Why did you feel like you had to hit below the belt like that? Your accusations and judgments speak far more about you than about me.

You don't know me. You are jumping to all kinds of conclusions which are not at all accurate or respectful.

John A. Wilde
Whitesboro NY

Jim Jordan said...

Hi John,
I think "I Am Israel" is mean-spirited and you state you like it. You are standing in support of people whose modus operandi is the destruction of Israel. I can understand criticizing a particular action - no country is above criticism - but to condemn the country as you do is not seen as polite.

Pastor Bob said...


I can't find any info that suggests that the IPMN is funded by the PCUSA. Of course I can't find a detailed budget either. And I looked!

Anonymous said...

Pastor Bob: No, IPMN is not now funded by GA, just the $15,000 they were given to get started in 2005. However, it is possible for individuals and churches to give to IPMN, and use the PCUSA as the conduit using this link:


This is on a page the header for which says:

Support PC(USA) Ministry and Mission

David Fischler
Woodbridge, VA

Pastor Bob said...


Does that make IPMN a extra commitment or a designated offering?

Bob Campbell
Sharon Hill, PA