Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship delegates and the wrong guide

In committee 15, The Middle East Issues committee of the 2012th Presbyterian General Assembly, I remember a young man, a commissioner who took some flack because he had gone on a trip to Israel subsidized by a Jewish group. I don't remember his name or the name of the Jewish group, that isn't important, I just remember that he said he had also gone on a trip to the Palestinian Territories and that he would not vote on some issues. But I've thought of him as I have read tweets coming from the Middle East Peace delegation now in Israel and Palestine. They are sponsored by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship who have also stated that the delegates can be subsidized up to 50 percent although they do not say who is subsidizing them.[1] As the announcement of the trip states:

Participants will experience the realities of life in the Holy Land – the occupations, settlements, and peace efforts -- by meeting with those living there. Those who attend will be expected to be ambassadors for justice at the mid-June 2014 General Assembly in Detroit. Additionally, participants will be asked to make a commitment to work as advocates for the end of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and control of the Gaza Strip, and for security for both Israelis and Palestinians.
 I know at least one of these delegates and I know that undoubtedly most of them are dedicated, kind and genuine people. But their words have been, in many cases, bought, and badly from what I am reading. They were trained at the Stony Point Center in New York. But they, of course, also are being guided and informed by other people in the Middle East. One person who was chosen to do this was Jonathan Cook who is a journalist and an author.

One tweet by a commissioner is, “Jonathan Cook gave us an incredible and eye-opening tour of Nazareth yesterday:  #PPFinAction.” In that tweet is a link to Cook's web site and blog. But he has also written for and his material is used by Veterans Today, the anti-Semitic web site that the Southern Poverty Law Center sees as having entered the neo-Nazi movement.

Cook on his own blog buys into all kinds of conspiracy ideas and libels against Jewish citizens including the killing of Arafat and the selling of Palestinian body parts. Cook concludes on that last issue that since the Israel's “long time” pathologist had been fired for stealing body parts from dead IDF soldiers, “he was undoubtedly doing the same to the bodies of Palestinians brought to his laboratory.” But his statement is conjecture and besides that it hardly backs up the libel that Israel was harvesting body parts and selling them. Almost all of his writing is that kind of writing. Logical thinkers should be troubled.

Cook also appears to believe that most of the European Jews descended from the ancient Khazars thus the Israelis supposedly have little claim on any of the land of ancient Israel. He finds nothing good in Israel and manages to ascribe evil intentions to every act they perform. For instance in one post he insists that some contrived acts of anti-Semitism in France are a plot to move more French Jews to Israel despite the very true fact that there has been a sharp rise in acts of anti-Semitism in France.

The Presbyterian delegates spending their time among local Arab and Jewish communities will undoubtedly find much to be concerned about, care about and love, but they will certainly be misled by some of their guides. May our prayers be with them that God will 'accidentally' lead them where their guides did not intend for them to go. May they see the good work of both the Israelis and the Palestinians. May they come to GA prepared, not to use the propaganda that others have pushed their way but the truth of the bad and the good on both sides of the region's peoples.

The delegates blog can be read at: Dispatches From the Holy Land


Reformed Catholic said...

It doesn't appear that this group is even trying to get other opinions, just visiting and hearing from those who's opinions are what they want and expect to hear.

You can't have meaningful dialogue without listening to both sides.

Viola Larson said...

My thoughts exactly.

Anonymous said...

Matthew said Jesus would be known as the Prince of Peace.

Just the other day Israel's Defense Minister made some personal disparaging remarks against our Secretary of State John Kerry for his efforts to create dialog and mediate a peaceful go-forward plan for Israel and Palestine. He concluded with something to the tune of "just give Kerry his Nobel Peace Prize already so he can go way and leave us alone", expressing a total disregard for the US, Kerry and his office, the spirit of the Nobel Peace prize, and any kind of dialog or peaceful resolution to the Middle East conundrum. "just give us your guns and ammo - we will take care of the rest".

He's not listening to any sides but his own either.

Peace has many enemies. And not too many friends.

Jodie Gallo
Los Angeles, CA