Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) refuses to criticize Zionism Unsettled

The Presbyterian News Service has posted an item from The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) about the booklet, Zionism Unsettled, written and published by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN). In the article, “Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) remains committed to peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” the PC (U.S.A.), supposedly, absolved themselves from any guilt by claiming that that they had nothing to do with its writing or its publication. And they also pleaded innocence from behind the cover of the diversity of the denomination. They write: 

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) policy calls for a negotiated settlement between Israel and Palestine and the right for each to exist within secure and recognized borders. The church has condemned acts of violence on both sides of the conflict, as well as the illegal occupation of Palestinian land by Israeli settlements. Our church has categorically condemned anti-Semitism in all its forms, including the refusal to acknowledge the legal existence of the State of Israel. At the same time, we believe that condemnation of injustices perpetrated in the name of the State of Israel, including the violation of human rights, does not constitute anti-Semitism.

In 2004, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) formed the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) to help move the church toward the goal of a just peace in Israel/Palestine. The independent group — which speaks to the church and not for the church — recently published a study guide, Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study. The guide is intended to prompt discussion on the ever-changing and tumultuous issue of Israel-Palestine. The IPMN booklet was neither paid for nor published by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

There is more in the item. Linda Valentine, executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, is quoted in part of the article. It is unclear if the above quote from the article is her’ or even the name or names of those who authored the article. It was undoubtedly a committee of people. At the beginning, in a box, it asks that the reader, if they want more information, to contact Kathy Francis, Communications Director, at 502-569-5194.

It does not matter that the PC (U.S.A.) has neither written nor published the booklet, Zionism Unsettled, they sell the booklet, and the IPMN is a part of their Mission Agency. It will be the members of IPMN and those they work with who will fill up the committee meeting room for Middle East issues and have full right to speak to the commissioners at the 221 General Assembly in June. There will not be another group in the PC (U.S.A.) who has that right. They not only speak to the denomination, they have power in the denomination to guide commissioners the direction they wish them to vote.

If leadership in the denomination, such as Linda Valentine, Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons, or Reverend Neal D. Presa, Moderator of the 220th General Assembly would speak out against such statements in the booklet as “Zionism is by nature a system of discrimination and exclusion,” the Jewish community and concerned Presbyterians could begin to breathe a sigh of relief.

There could at least be, once again, dialogue. But it is probable that that door has been closed.  As Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein has stated, “Such attacks describing our core belief as 'rooted' in 'intolerable human rights abuses' reveals there is nothing left to talk about with such religious bigots. Jews will now regard PCUSA as a hostile church.” And Presbyterian Pastor, Chris Leighton, writes in an Open Letter to the Presbyterian Church, for the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies, “To suggest that the Jewish yearning for their own homeland—a yearning that we Presbyterians have supported for numerous other nations—is somehow theologically and morally abhorrent is to deny Jews their own identity as a people. The word for that is “anti-Semitism,” and that is, along with racism, sexism, homophobia, and all the other ills our Church condemns, a sin.”

I wrote a comment under the article, they have not published it. I await the day my denomination will have the courage and sense of righteousness it takes to stand against such evils as anti-Semitism.


Anonymous said...

I wrote a comment, too. The article was a prime example of obfuscation, missing the point, and avoiding responsibility.

John Erthein
DeFuniak Springs, FL

Jodie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Viola Larson said...

I have a good reason for deleting your comment & please don't post on this thread again.

H. Rak said...

If you want to understand it, you have to see it from their perspective: Missionaries going to Christian villages and destroyed ruins and walled off areas with no water.

After seeing this and being emotionally broken down with sadness for their Christian brothers and sisters, this can explain why they would make a report disagreeing with a state for one religious group only over that territory.

Even if you do not agree, you can try to understand their tears.

H. Rak said...

I think they just aren't putting comments on this article at all.

The other website you linked to don't have comment sections.

Viola Larson said...

H.Rak, that isn't the whole story and that isn't all they are seeing. Yes, there is sadness there must be sadness and there will hopefully be reconciliation. But you can't just say anything you want about a movement that pulls in over centuries millions of Jewish people. It isn't wrong for the Jewish people to believe God chose them-that is what this is about, the booklet I mean.

Viola Larson said...

And I agree I don't think they are putting comments on the PCUSA site-either, but since there is a place to do it, it would be nice if they allowed for the diversity they are talking about. The IPMN site does not have a place to write-I wasn't referring to them.

Anonymous said...

It is sad to see that the leadership of the Presbyterian Church has fallen into such error.

There is no illegal Jewish occupation of Palestinian lands. Western Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, was given to the Jews by the international community in which to reconstitute their ancient homeland. The relevant legal instruments are:

1. 1920 San Remo Resolution (,
2. 1922 Mandate for Palestine (,
3. 1924 Anglo-American Convention (, by which the U.S. ratified the Mandate for Palestine, incorporating the Mandate word for word,
4. U.N. Charter’s Article 80 (

Some people think that the U.N. partitioned Western Palestine between the Jews and the Arabs, giving each some of the land there for a state. But this is a misimpression. The Partition Plan (Resolution 181) was a non-binding General Assembly plan and thus functioned as a recommendation. Only Security Council resolutions made under Chapter VII can be binding. In order to become binding, Resolution 181 would have required the agreement of both the Jews and the Arabs. The Jews agreed. But the Arabs did not, and Palestinian Arabs attacked Palestinian Jews as soon as passage of this resolution was announced in November 1947, killing almost 2,000 Jews by the time the Zionists proclaimed their State of Israel in May 1948. The invasion of Israel by the armies of 5 neighboring Arab states the next day put an end to any further thoughts of partition. The Mandate, termed not only a trust but a "sacred trust," is still the legal instrument in force. And the Mandate's Article 6 called for Jews to be encouraged in close settlement on the land in Palestine. Thus, any vacant land in Western Palestine not owned by individual Arabs is Jewish land; and the Arabs can have enough land for a state there only if Israel gives them land.

As for water rights, Israel has given the Arabs water called for by the Oslo agreements for years. For more about this topic, C.A.M.E.R.A. ( is a good place to search. Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinians are now cooperating on a new joint water project. Israel offered to help Gaza with a desalination plant, but Gaza refused this offer.

Last year Israel treated more than 210,000 Palestinian Arabs in its hospitals--courtesy of the Israeli taxpayer. Israel is now treating wounded Syrians near the Syrian border.

I grew up in two small towns in the Midwest. Children from Presbyterian homes were my school chums. I am almost beside myself now with what has happened within the Presbyterian Church.

Anonymous said...

Its just as sad to see the lies about the views of leadership of the Presbyterian Church take hold.

Viola Larson said...

first of all I don't allow anonymous posts on my site. If you want to comment here you have to give your full name city and state. Secondly I don't believe that the 1920-1924 resolutions or mandates count anymore. Resolution 181 I believe is different. The important thing here is that there be agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

There should be a two state solution with Israel left as a Jewish state with secure borders. There should be some kind of land swap rather than a return by Palestinians and compensation to refugees in some way.

And the Presbyterians have a lot of apologizing to do to the Jews.

Viola Larson said...

And anonymous, don't think I am discounting what was given to the Jewish people. But I think that 1947 & 48 are the important dates. Israel is a Jewish state and she did have to win a war against 5 Arab nations to become one. No one has the right to take that away. But the rest, security and land for a Palestinian must be negotiated.