Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Zionism Unsettled, Press TV of Iran & the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Yesterday I wrote about David Duke, the past Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, endorsing the Israel/Palestine Mission Network’s booklet Zionism Unsettled. Now Press TV is giving it an endorsement.  Press TV is one of the official media outlets for the  Islamic Republic of Iran.
Like other media outlets, they use press people in various countries to publish their news. Press TV uses Veterans Today for their United States News. Veterans Today is the site I have written so many postings about because of their extreme anti-Semitism. The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hate Watch stated that they had entered the neo-Nazi realm because of their accusations about Israel and the Newtown murders. This is how Hate Watch put it:

 VT seemed to be trying to outdo itself when its financial editor Mike Harris, who also sits on VT’s editorial board, went on Iranian government-backed Press TV to claim that the recent murders of 20 small children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school was carried out by Israeli death squads.

Press TV’s endorsement can be found here, “Zionism destroying lives of Palestinians, Jews: IPMN.” In the article they state, “The study guide, dubbed Zionism Unsettled, also argues that most Jews reject Zionism and choose to live outside the Israeli-occupied Palestinian lands, depicting Jewish life inside the Islamic Republic of Iran as “alive and well.”

The Jewish community that lives within Iran is often used by Iran to prove that Jews reject Zionism as well as Israel. But initially that rejection by some ultra-religious Jews had to do with their views that there would be no homeland until the Messiah came. Pushing aside the religious thinking, it is politicized and used as a caricature of Jews outside of Israel by both the Israel/Palestine Mission Network and the Republic of Iran.

But the Jewish state of Israel is like a lynch pin for many of those Jews who live in other places. It is that which undergirds the Jewish people of many lands and many persecutions. As Walter Laqueur points out in his seminal work, A History of Zionism: From the French Revolution to the Establishment of the State of Israel:

A survey of the origins of Zionism must take as its starting point the central place of Zion in the thoughts, the prayers, and the dreams of the Jews in their dispersion. The blessing ‘Next year in Jerusalem ‘ is part of the Jewish ritual and many generations of practicing Jews have turned towards the East when saying the Shemone Essre, the central prayer in the Jewish Liturgy.

It does not matter that the Jewish people make other countries their home, the Jewish State of Israel is the answer to two-thousand years of prayer. Marina Benjamin, author of The Last Days in Babylon, while rightly complaining of the way the Iraqian Jewish immigrants to Israel were at first treated, nontheless states:

Jewish people will often remark that only in Israel does their feeling of Jewishness disappear, because only in Israel, where being Jewish is the pervasive norm is it inconsequential. Having visited Israel several times, I can vouch for having experienced this strange unburdening.

On the Facebook page of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) I argued about this horrible booklet Zionism Unsettled. This is the answer I got from whoever oversees the site and whose title is “Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) The Israel/Palestine Mission Network authored the booklet, and the network was created following a directive from the General Assembly in 2004 to move us toward the goal of a just peace in Israel/Palestine. The booklet is not a publication of the PC(USA). The network speaks to the church, not for the church.

That is not a good answer. The leadership in the PC (U.S.A.) is in some measure liable for their own organizations. If the IPMN, as an organization, decided to physically beat up those they considered their enemies, and they have done that emotionally, the PC (U.S.A.) would be liable for the physical damage done to the enemies—they are PC (USA) after all. But there is something more, and far more important. As a Christian organization the PC (U.S.A.) is liable for the wellbeing of others. Spiritually, they are called to justice and righteousness. Lying about, vilifying and slandering their neighbors is unscriptural, and as long as the leadership of the PC (U.S.A.) fails to speak up about Zionism Unsettled, they are involved in sin.
Picture of Jewish holiday Shavuot . Taken from Wikipedia & Jewish Free Image Collection Project. By Amos Gil.


Jodie said...


One of the common mis-perceptions people have about the PC(USA) comes from their complete lack of understanding of the Presbyterian form of government, or indeed, what makes the Presbyterian Church "Presbyterian".

It is essential to keep straight that a "Commission" is empowered to speak for the body that creates it, but a "committee" speaks to it, and only to it. A committee of the GA could tell the GA that in its considered opinion the moon is made of green cheese and it would matter not. What matters is what the GA does with that opinion.

You, as an elder of the PCUSA, should not, in my opinion, promote that misunderstanding, because, among other things, it undermines your effectiveness at rendering an opposing point of view.

If, in your opinion, the GA is about to do something stupid with that opinion, or if folks are under the mis-perception that to be a Presbyterian, or a member of the PC(USA) they have an obligation to respond or do something as a result of that opinion, then by all means, set them straight, and offer an opposing opinion.

I, for one, have never been interested in, nor moved in any direction by most of the many many silly opinions expressed by the countless time wasting committees that presume self importance in speaking to the GA. The whole machine that invites such often counterfeit imitations of Faith should be downsized to the bone, in my opinion. But it remains true that they do not speak for me, as a member of the PC(USA), and they clearly do not speak for you, and they do not speak for anybody else either. They are nothing more than background noise, and to give them any greater voice than that is to give them an undeserved platform that robs energy from those activities that do indeed promote the Kingdom of God.

I think that all this opposition, and opposition to opposition and counter opposition, may be true to the term "protestant"(as in "one who declares one's faith by protesting"), but it is a spent form of Evangelization. Nobody listens to any of it any more.

Good News that is good news promotes something good, and it stands by itself.

I wonder if there is something good to say to the Middle East, and what that might be.

Jodie Gallo
Los Angeles, CA

Viola Larson said...

Jodie, IPMN is not a committee but a Mission Network with several committees. This is part of its bylaws:
"The IPMN is one of many mission networks established in close consultation and cooperation with the denomination. The 216th General Assembly (2004) directed 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." Denominational staff has played a major role assisting IPMN
in its establishment, through advising and guiding our work, particularly in the early phases of our work. As affirmed in our Mission Statement, our goal is to support the policies and partners of the denomination."

Their decision to say they speak to the PCUSA was their decision. It matters not that they or anyone else says they are independent. They are of the PCUSA and were created by the General Assembly. They could be dissolved by the GA which means that they are in some ways accountable to the GA.

But more than that, leadership in the PCUSA could make public statements that they disagree with IPMN and are appalled by the network-they have all kinds of ways to deal with the mess the IPMN has put them in. The problem is for some they cannot stand the thought of discipline. For others they really are anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic, etc., whatever it can be called. To me it is a very sad state of affairs.

Jodie said...


So is it a Commission or is it a Committee? The GA cannot create anything else. Nothing else exists. It can only be one or the other.


Greg Scandlen said...

This distinction of "speaks TO the church and not FOR the church" is a total abrogation of responsibility. If the PCUSA created it, funded it, and gladly receives its material, the PCUSA is fully responsible for what it does. I am not aware of any similar group set up by the PCUSA to speak "TO the church" in favor of Zionism. Just as I am not aware of any pro-life group sponsored by the PCUSA to counter its many pro-abortion activities.

Greg Scandlen
Waynesboro, PA

Jodie said...


There is nothing that prevents the formation of a Pro-Zionism committee, or for that matter a pro-life committee. Although I doubt a motion to create a pro-Zionism committee would pass (the anti-Zionism one was not passed with that purpose in mind either), I do believe that a committee "to advise the GA on medical ethics for the preservation of life whenever the prospect of meaningful life is likely with advancing technology" would address the changes that are coming and would encompass the preservation of pre-natal life as well.

Or perhaps one to advise the Church on the definition of personhood, and life and death vis a vis brain function. I think most people are honestly confused about why and when the right to life of an unborn child competes with the rights of a woman over her own body. As they are also confused over what to do when a person's brain stops functioning. Are they brain "dead"? If so, are they just as dead as if they were buried? I am just thinking out loud, but the options are many.

Is there even a medical ethics committee at all? If not, there should be one. I wonder if you ever tried creating such a committee before you left the PC(USA), and if you did, what roadblocks did you find?


Viola Larson said...

The subject of the thread is about Zionism Unsettled-don't take it another direction. Greg was simply using that as an example.

Greg thank you.

Jodie the whole Mission department is made up of mission networks.

Timothy F Simpson said...

Viola, there is a reason we teach college freshman that this kind of argument you are making here is a logical fallacy: The argument can just as easily be used against you and others who share your view, that you are so depraved or ignorant or naive or (pick whatever descriptor you prefer) that even David Duke and the Republic of Iran can see it. I'm not making that argument, but rather simply pointing out how lame it is. Something is good or bad, right or wrong based on its MERITS not its SUPPORTERS or DETRACTORS. I know you try to do this as well, but I think you undermine your position by making such a specious argument.

Viola Larson said...

I know what you are saying and I thought a long time about that-but the truth is the IPMN has connections to the very groups I am writing about. They in fact on Twitter follow several people who write for Veterans Today and they have in the past and on twitter connected with approval to links on the VT site and the partner sites of VT. They too many times link to James Wall who is an editor and writer on a partner site, Veterans News Now.
There is more I could say on this. But only this, if several of us and some Jewish groups had not complained loudly they would still have a Facebook and be linking to horrible things. It is not a logical fallacy it is reality.

Jill Schaeffer said...

This is wearying. When I have nothing better to do, I shall run a Boolean Search of buzz words associated with the BDS movement in Zionism Unsettled. The frequency of words such as "apartheid," "racist" or "racism," even "Zionism" in any of its forms possibly will dominate the text. Whole sentences easily could be cut and paste jobs tweaked to look original in a document that is wholly unoriginal in tone, content and intent: drive Israel into the sea and, while we are at it, delegitimate the Jews, period. For me, to get to the heart of the perfidy controlling this document, follow the money. Who wrote the check for its writing and printing? for Storage and Distribution? and for sending the thing out to congregations. If human decency doesn't work for the staff in Louisville, perhaps a legal issue might raise some eyebrows.

Once upon a time I learned that one shouldn't write a sentence that cannot be refuted. A strict and impossible rule to obey completely. But, earning my keep for years as a communicator, I was bound by that rule more than some. if you just scan Zionism Unsettled - just scan it - there's hardly a sentence that can be countered by data. The run-on accusation making up the document is apodictic and rhetorical. The language is orchestrated to convince by harangue and not by evidence, sprinkled with "facts" that either aren't or out of context. Sure sign of a con. For me, "Zionism Unsettled" is a verbal equivalent to the 1925 movie by Sergei Eisenstein: "Potemkin" and Leni Rifenstal's 1934 movie, "Triumph of the Will". Brilliant propaganda, but propaganda nonetheless.

Jill Schaeffer
New York City

Viola Larson said...

Thank you for writing that, and I had not thought of those two movies, the first I saw in a film class, the stairs scene invades so much of western art. The second I saw in a class on cults. Perfect.