Friday, February 28, 2014

Zionism Unsettled: the insufferable actions of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network-Update


Update: A friend sent me this information: "For several years now, all kinds of entities of the PCUSA have published stuff on the same web address that PNS uses. However, PNS has no responsibility for anything that is not clearly published by PNS itself. The article about Zionism Unsettled says it was published by The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). They are free to do what they want, including opening up the possibility for responses, without PNS doing the same thing for their articles, and they don’t need PNS permission for it."

This changes most of my thoughts on this posting. Everywhere I have placed the Presbyterian News Service I should put the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, except for the article by the PC (U.S.A.) So I am changing it now, including the title.

This is insufferable and awful! The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) really doesn’t want to hear the voices of their own members if they disagree with any supposedly progressive organization in the denomination.  On the other hand the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the PC (U.S.A.) advertised their publication on the news service with an article about Zionism Unsettled. “Presbyteriannetwork opens new dialogue on Zionism was published on January 21st. They immediately allowed comments about the publication. They listened to any bigot who wanted to write a comment. The last one by George Duke being:

The Jewish supremacists should take this report seriously. It shows that the church will not shill for their lies any more.

The other news article about Zionism Unsettled was the PC (U.S.A.) attempting to take a neutral position. That article, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) remains committed to peace for Israelis and Palestinians” was published February the 13th. The PNS did not allow comments, not even for several days after I asked the author, Kathy Francis, the PC (U.S.A.) communications director why none were allowed. Then after burying the article in their archives they finally published some of the comments. I say some because one of the now published comments is by Presbyterian Dr. Martha E. Leatherman who is asking why her comment was not published and I see no other comment by her.

But back to the other article, the one which lifts up and highlights Zionism Unsettled. While there are comments by Presbyterians on the first article, “Presbyteriannetwork opens new dialogue on Zionism,” there are also well known, and unknown bigots with comments such as the one above.

One of the ant-Semites is Tom Usher. He wrote and IPMN published it:

Zionism is anti-Christ. Ask the Jewish-Zionists. They aren't interested in God's and Jesus's message of loving their neighbors. They stomp on their neighbors trying to get them to submit under Jewish supremacy. They steal their land by force of arms. Have you heard the racism and ethnic bigotry coming out of Jewish-Zionist leaders? It's wicked. How can the Church not stand opposed to twisted, worldly Zionism? Peace, love, and truth, Tom Usher

Usher writes on a blog, Real Liberal Christian Church. One article he connects to on his blog is from Veterans Today and it is the idea that Israel was the instigators of 9-11. It is an interview by Gordon Duff, chairman of Veterans Today.

Another commenter is Tyron Parsons.  He writes and IPMN allowed:

This is good news. Finally a traditional Christian org in America stands up to the uber hypocritical "Jewish" Zionist power structure. Its about time. Fact is, Jewish Zionism is based in Judaism/Talmudism as an all encompassing outward expression of other Jewish controlled movements such as Marxism-Communism. Its end goal is a world Gov seated by the main Anti Christ. Zionism is Judaism and it is the so called "Jews" common law where as true Israelites (European/white/Christians) common law is Christian/Natural law. Both of these common laws show the difference between the DNA/spirit of Esau "Jews" and European/whites-Christians (Jacob-Israel/Judah). The so called Jews, "Israelis" bid for World Gov will happen but it is destined to be replaced by God's people (Authentic Christians) when the true lord returns, exposing the false and planting HIS kingdom on their apostasy. (By the way- don't even try and calling me "anti semitic". I will post "Jewish" admissions to all I have said above, all day long". 95% of the so called "Jews" don't have natural links to the tribes of Israel. They are impostors (Rev 2 and 3) coming from Maternal links to Esau and Ashkenaz who are from Japeth, not Shem (Genesis 10:3).

Another commenter, Charles Carlson, who sells historical revisionists (denying the Holocaust) books states:

 Bravo PCUSA: I cannot wait to get my copy of Zionism Unsettled. Based on all reviews, including desperately distorted ones from some who share in the guilt. This is a vital need fulfilled. And PCUSA will not be the last. For too long Christian Zionist in American evangelical churches, including, Richard L. Land of the Southern Baptist convention, have blame the victim for every act of brutality against them, and getting away with it. But the movement to discover and expose what Occupation is, is rooted and growing in the traditional churches like the PCUSA, who know abut [sic]missions. Scripture is on their side. "Blessed are the Peacemakers." Restated: Who would Jesus Bomb, or imprison for sixty years? From one who has seen Gaza from the inside, Charles E Carlson

I have written about Charles Carlson here: Who is Charles E. Carlson & why does he picket churches?.

This is a true picture of what happens when one opens the door to darkness, all the minions of hell will waddle in through the door. It also a picture of what happens when you ignore the voices of your own denomination. It may be that the Israel/Palestine Mission Network speaks to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) but so do all of the other members and their voices have real meaning. I believe an apology needs to come from the Office of the General Assembly and from the Israel/Palestine Mission Network. And while we are in the business of apologies the Jewish people need an apology for all of the trash allowed in the comments.

And I should apologize to the Presbyterian News Service because I thought they were involved in the problem.

 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

"She has failed to proclaim with sufficient emphasis that our bodies belong to the Body of Christ"


I too lived in the south, Springdale, Arkansas, when segregation was not only rampant but the law, and many white people hated blacks. I was not quite a teenager but I understood how sinful it was. In Springdale no black was allowed at all. I once saw attendants at a filling station turn and walk inside when an African American family drove up for gas; the same thing happened when they drove across the street. But this is not the same thing at all as this article, When ‘Religious Liberty’ Was Used To Justify Racism Instead Of Homophobia, portrays it.[1]
I saw the article because the Presbyterian Voices for Justice posted it on their Facebook page.  The article itself is overshadowed by a picture that is supposed to remind everyone that Christians who don’t want to engage in ceremonies that they believe to be sin are like these bigoted KKK people.

 
However, all of the people we have read about who are being fined and harassed because they won’t provide flowers, or cakes, or pictures for same gender weddings don’t hate homosexuals. Most of them have provided their goods to gays and lesbians, they simply do not want to be a part of a ceremony they believe is unbiblical.

They have not turned anyone away from essential needs and would not. They wouldn't refuse to sit beside them and intend to be friends.

But the truly hateful thing to me is the way Presbyterian Voices of Justice uses such articles to malign those they supposedly believe to be brothers and sisters. In this context the call for unity and reconciliation in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is absurd.
I do have a few suggestions for those being forced to participate in ceremonies that are sinful. Perhaps one could say to each person as they pin a corsage or flower on before the wedding, Jesus loves you and died for you. Perhaps as the baker carefully sets up the cake they can softly sing  "Oh to be Like Thee Blessed Redeemer… (pure as thou art.)"

Perhaps as the photographer moves about taking pictures ….well on that one I have no idea. But perhaps you have a suggestion. Of course, I am not serious. But here is a serious suggestion, that some organization, a group of churches or others, set up an account whose sole purpose would be to aide individuals who are fined for refusing to go against their faith. And let us pray for Presbyterian Voices For Justice. I have seen some good things on their site such as tributes to African American women and quotes by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
But not this one:

The Church confesses ...She has found no strong and effective answer to the contempt  for chastity and to the proclamation of sexual Libertinism. All she has achieved has been an occasional expression of moral indignation. She has rendered herself guilty of the loss of the purity and soundness of youth. She has failed to proclaim with sufficient emphasis that our bodies belong to the Body of Christ. (Ethics)

 




[1] For a good explanation of what the Arizona bill was about read: No, this is not Jim Crow for gays, Part Two.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A reposting of my 2011 Presbytery presentation against Belhar

I saw on my feed someone looking at the presentation on Belhar I gave on March 24, 2011. I thought perhaps it would be helpful to some people again in this next round of voting at General Assembly. I am reposting:

My presentation against Belhar at Sacramento Presbytery
At Sacramento Presbytery's last meeting, in February, before we voted on the three big amendments, two presenters gave a short, five minute presentation, one for and one against. I gave the presentation against the Confession of Belhar. Just in case my presentation has any thoughts that will be helpful I am posting it here.

Adding a confession to the PCUSA’s Book of Confessions is a very serious action. So serious that it requires a two/thirds vote by the Presbyteries and a second vote by the following General Assembly. The Confession of Belhar, within its text, must above all confess Jesus Christ as Lord in order to be a true confession of faith. That is what we must consider as we vote.

On the Racial Justice web page of the PCUSA, one finds information about Belhar which includes this: “It [Belhar] calls the church to a deeper appreciation of the values of unity in diversity in relation to the divisions of race and culture and many other facets of the human condition.”

History: Belhar was written by the Dutch Reformed Mission Church of South Africa in the midst of apartheid; black Christians of South Africa were sinfully excluded from fellowship with their white brothers and sisters. A statement about such horrific conditions was needed, Belhar fulfilled that need. It was faithful in its context. But it is not a universal confession. Although structured in the same manner as the Theological Declaration of Barmen it does not confess Christ in the same manner rather it confesses unity.

Unity: Belhar calls for an unqualified unity. In one place it states: “We reject any doctrine “which absolutizes natural diversity or the sinful separation of people in such a way that this absolutization hinders or breaks the visible and active unity of the church ...” In another place it states, “a refusal earnestly to pursue this visible unity as a priceless gift is sin,” and still further, “anything which threatens this unity may have no place in the church and must be resisted.” While “true faith in Jesus Christ” is mentioned as a boundary it is not defined.

So let me ask, are we, as a church, called to be in unity (that is in agreement) with those who deny the deity of Christ, the authority of scripture, or justification by faith? Unity without qualification could mean that we, as a connectional church, would be denying the faith.

And notice, as I have pointed out, the Racial Justice page interprets Belhar’s unity in terms that not only include unity in the midst of racial diversity but also unity in the midst of “many other facets of the human condition.” But, the human condition is broken and sinful. Unity needs a foundation; a Savior who transforms. We must confess Jesus Christ before we confess unity.

Racism: There are only two small references to racism in Belhar. But both the Confession of 67 and the Brief Statement of Faith speak to racism and diversity in the context of the United States’ particular problems. The Confession of 67 speaks of fair housing, education, work and even political rights. And both the Confession of 67 and the Brief Statement of Faith carefully confess Christ.

The many uses of the Belhar Confession: Because Belhar does not, above all else, confess Jesus Christ, as he is known in Scripture, it may be used for unintended purposes. Insisting on the oneness of Islam, Christianity and Judaism is one suggested use. Others are the ordination of GLBT people, the ‘racism’ of Israel and power sharing. Now you may agree with one or all of these, (certainly the first is not a confession of Christ) but you may agree. Nonetheless you can see the danger of having a document in our Book of Confessions which can, so easily, be used for any particular group’s cause.

Some have countered this argument with the thought that even the Bible has been misused. That is true. But the Bible has corrections within it. One of Belhar’s weaknesses is that it does not.

The need for a Confession from the Southern Cone: Some have suggested that we have no confession from the Global South and Belhar meets this need. But even the racial Justice page admits that the Nicene Creed is a Global Southern Creed. And so is the Apostle’s Creed, since some parts of it were formed in Africa. However, the important point here is that we do not choose Confessions on the basis of where they come from but because it is time to confess anew Jesus Christ. A Confession confesses Jesus Christ that is its purpose.

Please, vote no on the adoption of the Belhar Confession.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Zionism Unsettled: Why Islam over Judaism & Christianity in a Christian book?


 

Several writers and leaders, both Christian and Jewish, have stated that since the Israel/Palestine Mission Network gets its tax free status from its connection to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) then their new publication, Zionism Unsettled is truly a PC (U.S.A.) publication. And that is technically true, and yet we have no idea who actually donated money to make the publication possible because IPMN is sheltered by their relationship within the PCUSA.
So alongside that thought about finances is this question: ‘Why does a supposedly Christian book lift up Islam and the Qur’an but in many ways treats the Holy Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity shamefully?’ Why is the history of radical Islam’s past and contemporary assaults on Christians and Jews mostly neglected while the history of Jewish and Christian sins are emphasized?
Beginning on page seven the authors critique all three monotheistic religions using the idea of religious exceptionalism. That is, the belief that one’s religion is the one true faith or the completed revelation about God. This is how the authors of Zionism Unsettled put it, “the belief that ‘my people’ are unusual, unique, or special.” While IPMN’s authors do not see that view as acceptable, they do see as positive the idea that each religion has a special calling to be a blessing to the nations.
And interesting enough in writing about Zionism and exceptionalism, the authors intertwine Zionism with Judaism. One becomes the other. The authors believe that exceptionalism has a dark side. And sometimes it does, yet that dark side is not clearly or honestly detailed in Zionism Unsettled.
So what is the actual exceptionalism of the three religions? Zionism Unsettled explains in several places what that means for Christians and Jews but not what it means for Islam.
The authors are undoubtedly referring to the Jewish belief that they are the chosen people who have a special covenant relationship with God which includes blessing the nations with God’s law. They point to God’s promise of land to the Jewish people.
The authors are also referring to the Christian claim, to have in Christ the complete revelation of God and the unique way of salvation by means of Christ. But nowhere is the Muslim’s claim that Mohammed is the final prophet and the Qur’an is ultimate truth, spoken about or pointed to as exceptionalism. Yet for many Muslims their kind of exceptionalism includes sharia.  And sharia is too often forced on believer and non-believer alike.
Nonetheless the authors do point out their views of the results of exceptionalism in all three monotheistic religions. Most of their blame is directed at Zionism which they conveniently mix with Judaism.
Beginning their account of Christian exceptionalism the authors write, “Christian exceptionalism beliefs and actions contributed to the Nazi Holocaust, the genocide of Native Americans, and countless other instances of tragic brutality.” Of Islam they write:
Exceptionalist doctrines and behaviors within Islam have contributed to grievous human rights abuses as the massacres during the closing days of the Ottoman Empire, which crescendoed with the Armenian genocide in 1915.
These two statements also need to be unpacked. The Christians first. It should be pointed out that it was not Christian exceptionalism that contributed to the Holocaust but just the opposite. The orthodox Christian believes that Jesus Christ is the final revelation, the only way to God. The German faith movement and the German Christians who contributed to the Nazi’s rise believed that another revelation stood equally beside Jesus as Lord. They believed in an earthly kingdom with Adolf Hitler as a revealed Savior. And in fact, all of the sins, genocide and racism, festering in the above quote have to do with a divergence away from orthodoxy as a means of holding on to some cooperate sin, be it greed, racism or some other self-indulgence.
The reference to Islam, as it was represented by the Ottoman Empire, while true, conveniently leaves out one of the most devastating events of contemporary times—that is the world-wide persecution of Christians in many Muslim countries. Also there is, at the moment, discrimination against Jewish communities in most Muslim countries. There is no need to go back so far into history. It appears with this that IPMN was fearful of insulting the Islamic community.
Most of Zionism Unsettled deals with what the authors see as the main problem and their focus is Zionism exceptionalism. In a small box where religious exceptionalism is explained the authors write of Zionism, which they have, in this case, turned into a religion:
The dark side of Zionist exceptionalism today is the ethnic cleansing and land confiscation of Palestinians justified by an appeal to God’s will derived from biblical texts.
The author’s do give a second negative critique of a radicalized Islam although they do not put it in historically truthful words:
We believe that justice, peace, and reconciliation will become possible for the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian inhabitants of the Holy Land when Israel and its supporters around the world comprehend the impossibility of resolving the crisis through the exercise of power, and radicalized Muslims relinquish the dream of an Islamic theocracy.
The historical untruthfulness here is defining radical Muslim’s Islamic theocracy as a dream. In many Arab states it is a reality and not a dream. In Gaza under Hamas it is a reality and a threat to any democracy. And for radical Islam, with such entities as Hamas—it is also about power.
And then when speaking of holy texts, and I have already written on how the biblical text is used in Zionism Unsettled, whether one is speaking of the Hebrew Bible or the Christian Bible which contains the Hebrew Bible, the Muslim Qur’an gets lifted up by using a Palestinian Muslim. The authors write:
Abu Sway contrasts what he calls the inclusive theology of the Qur’an with the exclusive theology of Zionism, which makes use of the Old Testament to justify separatism, domination, and ethnic cleansing.
After referring to Old Testament texts (Psalm 137:9) which speak of crushing a baby’s head against rocks and of the stories of God’s command to kill all of those in the cities of the ancient promised land the author’s go on to write:
There are many texts in the Qur’an that affirm God’s love for all people, demand that humans act justly toward others, and condemn any form of discrimination. The Qur’an insists that Muslims demonstrate God’s special respect for Jews and Christians because God is revealed in all three Abrahamic faiths.
So once again we need to unpack all of this information. As far as genre or type is concerned the Bible is a very different book than the Qur’an; but not different as far as exclusivity is concerned. The difference is the kind of writing. And yet in the Qur’an we find instructions without mercy. In his book, The Teachings of Jesus and Muhammad, Mateen Elass, born into a Muslim family and now a Presbyterian pastor, lists some of Jesus’ and Muhammad’s words about how to treat enemies. His conclusion is:
 The Qur’an frequently depicts as enemies those who refuse to submit to Allah, who stand opposed to the advance of Islam, who themselves reject the claims of Muhammad to be a true prophet. The prevailing teaching of Muhammad is that enemies are to be shown no mercy unless and until they repent and submit to the authority of Islam; hence the widespread commands for Muslims to fight (In the armed struggle of jihad) against all the enemies of the Prophet. (35) (Italics authors)
The texts the authors of Zionism Unsettled have chosen to pick from the Bible, include the honest thoughts of a person in anguish (the Psalms), it is not a commandment to do so. The commandment by God to kill all of the people in cities of the Holy Land must not be considered easy texts. But we do know that God was calling down judgment on a people who had been warned for over 400 years. They were a people whose false religion included the burning of babies to the god Moloch and the giving of their young people for prostitution.
Whether one agrees or disagrees with that section of Scripture the Qur’an is not more inclusive than the Old or New Testament. And it is shameful that a Christian publication lifts up the Qur’an over the Bible. It does raise questions about the publication, Zionism Unsettled, and its publishers, as well as those who unwittingly or knowingly funded the booklet.
Here is a video, which among other persecutors of Christians, Buddhists for example,  points out the persecutions by Islamic radicalism. It is not silent as is Zionism Unsettled. And keep in mind that many of these countries do not allow Jewish communities.

 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A game of deceit: the Presbyterian News Service and the PC (U.S.A.)


I recently wrote about the Presbyterian refusal to say anything negative about the booklet Zionism Unsettled written and published by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). You can read my posting at “The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) refuses to criticize Zionism Unsettled. The Presbyterian News Service article was left at the top of their page since Feb. the 13th. Today, the 20th, it was moved into the archives without anyone’s comments being published.  But there is more to the story, as usual.

Yesterday I called the communications director, Kathy Francis, Sr., whose telephone number, 502-569-5194, was placed with the article. I called to ask why the comments others had written had not been published. She seemed surprised and stated that she had just looked and saw no comments and wondered why. Francis informed me that she had written the article and that she had expected a lot of comments. Francis also said she would ask why none were published and promised to call me and let me know if there was a problem.

This morning the article, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) remains committed to peace for Israelis and Palestinians,” had been moved and I looked for it in the archives. It is empty of comments and I have not heard back from Francis.

This is typical PC (U.S.A.) communications, but it doesn’t work and it won’t fix the problem. Weary and outraged Presbyterians alongside discouraged and outraged Jews are still, just that, weary, outraged and discouraged.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

An Evangelical Presbyterian Pastor on Zionism Unsettled


David Fischler at Stand Firm has written a comprehensive and excellent critique of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network’s Zionism,PCUSA and the Propagation of Anti-Semitism,” Fischler begins:

“The Presbyterian Church (USA) has a lot of problems, from declining membership and attendance to fleeing congregations to heresy run rampant in its seminaries and pulpits. By and large, those are internal concerns. What the rest of the Christian world should be concerned about is its growing embrace of anti-Semitism, a phenomenon recently highlighted by the publication of a so-called “congregational study resource” called Zionism Unsettled by the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN).

The IPMN–“mandated,” according to a recent press release, by the PCUSA General Assembly in 2004–has had its share of controversy. It has a disturbing habit of relying on the scribblings of known anti-Semitic writers and web sites, even having to shut down its Facebook page so as to try to scrub away its dirty laundry (it keeps popping up, over and over again, on their Twitter feed, however). Now, however, they decided to do a “greatest hits” collection of sorts, combining all of their various tropes into one handy package.

Let’s just say that reading Zionism Unsettled was right up there with plunging steak knives into my eyeballs as a fun way to spend an afternoon. Here are a few examples of why.”

Fischler spends some time exposing the lack of any true historical detail about the atrocities committed against the Jews in Palestine, the attacks by Arab states at the birth of Israel and the persecution of Jews in Arab lands. He lifts up the idea of a Jewish State of Israel and shows how off the mark Zionism Unsettled is when they refer to a Jewish “ethnocracy”. In total Fischler, who is a Presbyterian pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, exposes the character of Zionism Unsettled with its writers and publishers, and he does this with skill and historical acumen.  You will better understand the many concerns raised by those writing against Zionism Unsettled after reading “PCUSA and the Propagation of Anti-Semitism.”

Monday, February 17, 2014

Zionism Unsettled, Gordon Duff & the Israel/Palestine Mission Network


Gordon Duff, chairman of Veterans Today and a writer for the Republic of Iran’s Press TV, is taking a stab at writing about the Israel/Palestine Mission Network’s Zionism Unsettled. I say stab because Duff too often, in the midst of his extreme anti-Semitism, gets everything and everyone confused. For instance in his posting, Self-Hate and Militant Exceptionalism,” Duff equates the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) with conservatism and the Tea Party. With his introduction he writes, “This week, the Presbyterian Church, a conservative mainstream religious group began distributing a study guide, “Zionism Unsettled.”   Speaking of the source of the booklet he writes:

A broader implication is taken from the source of this unique and powerful critique of Zionism, a group neither activist nor “leftist” but largely conservative, Southern based, with heavy membership within the Tea Party, the political group that recently broke with the Israel lobby.

I have to admit that this is funny and it made me laugh. But it is also serious—serious enough to cry over. Here is why. This man, Duff, who seems to live in a foggy world of hate and confusion, has links to the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). James Wall who has written, on the IPMN’s site, a glowing affirmation of Zionism Unsettled and whose blog, Wall Writings,  IPMN often links to, is editor and writer at Veterans News Now, the sister side of VT.  
Wall, at one time, upset that I, and another blogger, had pointed out his vile use of Veterans Today, wrote:
The website Veterans Today is not a “sludge-bucket”. It is a progressive website that sees injustice and calls it for what it is, which explains why these days, I find myself more at home with my new friends at Veterans Today and My Catbird Seat than with any Presbyterian blogger who has failed to realize that the Israeli occupation is a moral evil which must be ended. Perhaps this is a new ecumenism of the faithful.
 At least two IPMN members, Noushin Framke and Nahida Halaby Gordon, perhaps na├»vely, while commenting, backed Wall on his affirmation of VT.

 IPMN, among the many members it follows on Twitter, follows several writers who write for Veterans Today; they also follow sites which are either partners of VT or often use their writers. For instance one site, both IPMN, and steering committee member, Noushin Framke, follow is Window into Palestine. Looking for articles on Zionism Unsettled I found this at Window into Palestine, “Time to Kill Zionist Vampire. It is by Jim W. Dean, Veterans Today’s managing editor and writer with Press TV. He began his article with this:

 It’s that time of the year again – Vampire season Americans are finally starting to wake up to the stark reality. The Israeli regime must be erased from the sands of time. If the US really wants peace and security it is time to throw away what is left of the NecCon’s mini-World War they had engaged in after 911 and concentrate on one threat…Israel. But this will not be easy. Like cancer can start in one place and then spread itself throughout the body to overwhelm its defenses, Israeli espionage has used a similar tact. Poisonous spider bites work similarly.
Dean had something to do with a concert in Atlanta, Georgia, with Gilad Atzmon a saxophonist who also writes for VT. The concert, held at Villa International, was sponsored, according to Dean and Atzmon, by Veterans Today and Joining Hands for Justice which at one time was part of the mission networks of the PC (U.S.A) and still, sometimes, works with IPMN. The concert was not well received and no one who sponsored it would come forth with the facts of who made the connection between VT and the Presbyterians involved. In the middle of a rambling article by Duff, Dean placed this information:

 Gilad was sponsored in Atlanta Saturday night by Veterans Today and the Greater Atlanta Presbyterians. I will be posting some video highlights when I can.
We had a very mixed crowd, Christians, Jews, Muslims, young and old. The Wandering Who books were gone before I got mine. I will know better next time. If you ever get a chance to see him, you are in for a treat...Jim W. Dean][1]

The videos were never forthcoming probably at the request of the Presbyterians involved.
It may be that IPMN and Framke only follow Window into Palestine because at the bottom of their page they list several supposed Palestinian news sites. But the truth is even among these VT has invaded the news. For example Intifada Voice of Palestine listed among the sites is a Veterans Today site with many of their writers listed there. And IPMN has linked to IVP in the past.

The problem is the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), while having some moderate information sites, indulge themselves with weird, hate filled, conspiracy addicts. The influence of that kind of weirdness strains the whole denomination. There can never be a true formula for peace, coming out of the PCUSA & their GA mandated mission network, Israel/Palestine Mission Network, as long as lunatics flutter on the edge. This is one of the reasons we have offered the world such a horrific booklet as Zionism Unsettled.

 

 




[1] To read more about this go to Presbyterian 'Joining Hands for Justice in Israel & Palestine' & Veterans Today join hands! And “Veterans Today & Joining Hands for Justice of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta-Update.”http://naminghisgrace.blogspot.com/2012/03/veterans-today-joining-hands-for.html

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.

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.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Zionism Unsettled, David Duke & the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)


It seems that David Duke, past Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, really likes the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and in particular Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, past stated clerk of the PC (U.S.A)’s General Assembly. But then he is mistaken, thinking that Kirkpatrick is the author of Zionism Unsettled. Duke undoubtedly read Kirkpatrick’s endorsement of the booklet:

I encourage pastors and congregations to take advantage of this new publication. Zionism Unsettled provides a valuable opportunity to explore the political ideology of Zionism. Our congregations need to understand not only the humanitarian crisis or the specific policies involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but also to examine the basic framework that lies behind these policies and crises.

Duke likes Israel/Palestine Mission Network’s Zionism Unsettled because it uses a word he says he coined. It is included in his introduction which begins with this:

In a major breakthrough in the worldwide struggle against Zionist extremism, the largest Presbyterian church in the United States, the PC(USA), has issued a formal statement calling Zionism “Jewish Supremacism” — a term first coined and made popular by Dr. David Duke.

I have searched the booklet and cannot find that exact term although Zionism Unsettled is peppered with phrases that fit the idea of Zionism as “Jewish Supremacism.” There are references over and over to Jewish and/or Zionist exceptionalism as the dark side. There is an insistence that Israel cannot be a Jewish State and be a democracy. There are references  to the supposed ethnic cleansing by Zionists. There is the quote that “Zionism is by nature a system of discrimination and exclusion.”

And there is this, ""However, because equal rights for all would compromise the concept of a Jewish state, a dual legal system had to be created to ensure Jewish supremacy." on page 53.
Duke’s admiration for the booklet includes other statements from Zionism Unsettled:

It blames the expulsion of Jews from Arab lands as “blowback” from the “perceived injustice of the enforced partition of Palestine, the creation of a Jewish state, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1947-48, and the Sinai War of 1956.”
It accuses Israel of intentionally depopulating Palestinian villages in 1948, a process that continues to this day.
“Now, 65 years later, the Zionist quest for demographic control of the land in still underway – not only in the occupied territories, but within Israel itself. State planners pursue the goal of ensuring a ‘contiguous Jewish presence’ in every area within Israel.”
Morever [sic], the book argues, Israel is entirely uninterested in peace, and does not negotiate in good faith. “It is hard to find any evidence,” the authors write, “that recent Israeli governments have any intention of negotiating a just peace with Palestinians.”

That David Duke would claim agreement with the IPMN’s publication Zionism Unsettled should cause those in leadership of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to tremble because they are potentially in league with one of the leading bigots and anti-Semites of contemporary America.

When one writes a racist or an anti-Semitic book they should expect those who are racist and anti-Semitic to agree with them. In fact, James Wall, who writes and edits for Veterans News Now and is linked to Veterans Today, a vile anti-Semitic site which sometimes uses David Duke, has written an endorsement for them, calling Zionism Unsettled a "well timed and important study guide.*

Evil breeds deeper evil. 

* The endorsement is posted on their site-


Picture from Wikipedia

Saturday, February 8, 2014

IPMN, agreeing with those who harass Jewish women ...


The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is evidently giving lessons on how to harass and hate people. Using other’s tweets they have linked to an extremely hateful article about the controversy between the Boycott Divestment Sanctions  movement and Scarlett Johansson’s endorsement of SodaStream, a company that makes home soda making machines.
One of their plants is on the outskirts of an Israeli settlement. At least five-hundred Palestinians work there, alongside Israeli workers.* They make better wages then most in the Palestinian territories and are treated equally well. But the BDS movement is boycotting them and is now harassing Johansson because she was in a Super Bowl commercial lauding their product.

The article, “Scarlett Johansson controversy shows Hollywood’s fading Zionism,” written by Max Blumenthal, uses stereotyping to make points, while at the same time, referring to liberals who are pro-Israel as PEP (Progressives except for Palestine).  [1]Blumenthal’s disrespect for women in general, and Jewish women in particular is shameful. Of Barbra Streisand he writes:

  Of all the stars on stage that night, it was the proudly Jewish singer and actress Barbra Streisand who stole the show. The curly-haired Streisand belted out schlock anthems like Tomorrow and Happy Days Are Here Again to an enchanted crowd, before the former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir appeared on a gigantic television screen above the stage to greet her.
Curly-haired and schlock songs—what are the members of IPMN thinking linking to this piece. Blumenthal goes on:

Starting with her donation to the Emergency Committee for Israel during the 1967 war, Streisand’s unabashed Zionism propelled her career.
In other words Streisand made it big, not because of her talent, but because she was a Zionist. (Wasn't there an earlier time in history, the 1930s, when people of questionable character, the Nazis, insisted that the Jews controlled Hollywood and all of the United States media?)
In another part of the article, Blumenthal’s writes:

These days, celebrities who shill for Israel can expect to be relentlessly harried and forced to declare where they stand on Israel’s ongoing dispossession of Palestinians.

For those who have attached themselves to humanitarian do-gooder causes, the potential for PR damage is considerable — certainly enough to give them second thoughts. As the price tag on pro-Israel activity rises, some performers are quietly opting out of attractive deals before the controversy shatters their image.

But others like Scarlett Johansson, the comely blonde starlet described by Woody Allen as “sexually overwhelming” were not willing to let apartheid get in the way of a sizeable profit.
Woody Allen’s description of Johansson is totally out of place—but yes—it seems that Blumenthal will continue to harry and harass. He is shameless and so is the IPMN of the PC (U.S.A.).

I predict that since IPMN has published its hateful Zionism Unsettled they will sink deeper and deeper into the dark world of bigotry and hate. Once sin overcomes an individual or an organization it becomes easier to commit offenses.

To clarify: I don’t usually write postings defending movie stars simply because too many times I don’t agree with their lifestyles, but as a Christian I understand that everyone is created in the image of God. In our denomination, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), we are certainly expected to respect that image in everyone. We particularly lift up women and their rights. The IPMN has for a long time used other’s links to harass Scarlett Johansson. Their meanness is unacceptable. The article I am complaining about attacks persons in a way that is far deeper than attacking their actions. Whether one agrees with Scarlett Johansson or not, she should be treated as one who bears the image of God. And there isn’t any reason at all for Barbra Streisand to be attacked. Hopefully it is not a sin to be Jewish and/or a Zionist.

 
* An excellent article on the plant and workers in Mishor Adumim industrial park, is "Palestinian workers praise SodaStream - and Scarlett Johansson."



[1]   Blumenthal and IPMN promote each other’s work.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Zionism Unsettled: Good links that stand for righteousness and truth-Update


I recently posted a review of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network’s new publication Zionism Unsettled. Now, while radical sites and groups are busy pushing the IPNM’s publication, several well-known and excellent organizations, both Presbyterian and Jewish, have published reviews and statements about the publication which detail Zionism Unsettled’s many problems.
Presbyterians for Middle East Peace published a Press Release, “A Call for Justice and Tolerance in Israel and Palestine.”  The second paragraph explains their basic concern:

Recently the PC (USA) on-line “church store” began distributing a “congregational study guide” of a forthcoming publication titled “Zionism Unsettled.” The “study guide” was compiled by the Israel-Palestine Mission Network (IPMN), an advocacy group describing itself as an organization that “speaks to the Church, not for the Church.”  We take no issue with this group, or anyone else, expressing their opinions and exercising their rights of free speech.  Our concern, however, is that this material will be seen and is already being seen by much of the outside world as an official document of the Presbyterian Church (USA)  As a case in point, a recent article about this material appeared on the website Electronic Intifada entitled “Zionism is a ’false theology,’ says new Presbyterian study guide.”

And in fact, the vile anti-Semitic site Veterans News Now has also posted the same article with a different title: “Zionism Unsettled: New Presbyterian study guide Ends Silence about Zionism”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center has also put out a press release, Wiesenthal Center: US Presbyterians’ “Zionism Unsettled” -Theological Twin Of UN’s Infamous ‘Zionism is Racism’ Resolution.” Their protest cuts to the heart of the matter, with this publication the Israel/Palestine Mission Network has totally demonized Israel and the Jews. Quoting Rabbi Abraham Cooper the Press Release states:

Zionism Unsettled is a hit-piece outside all norms of interfaith dialogue. It is a compendium of distortions, ignorance and outright lies – that tragically has emanated too often from elites within this church”

The Wiesenthal Center calls on Christians to stand against this awful publication:

It will take Christian voices to offer the antidote to the poison served up by other Christians. [i]And if this book reflects the feelings of the PCUSA, the Simon Wiesenthal Center will divest all contacts from this institution and call on other Jewish organizations to do them same.

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein of the Center has put the problem squarely where it belongs:

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.

The Press Release must be read by all PC (U.S.A.) members to understand the grievous place we all are in because of the IPMN.
The AJC Global Jewish Action also has an article, “AJC: Presbyterian Church (USA) Study Guide on Zionism Distorts History, Undermines Peace Process” In their article, they state:

This study guide, billed by the church as an educational resource, was produced by the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN), one of the church’s educational arms. “It is a devastating distortion of Jewish and Israeli history, aimed at nothing less than eradicating the State of Israel,” said Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC’s Director of Intergroup and Interreligious Relations.

All Presbyterians, but especially those going as commissioners to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), this coming June, need to read these Press Releases and articles to understand that with the booklet Zionism Unsettled our denomination has reached a trembling point-a historical point—we will either become a vile anti-Semitic denomination or we will stand against a rising tide of universal bigotry and hate against the Jewish people.

Update: Another excellent and very informative statement on Zionism Unsettled has just been published by The Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies. Written by Reverend Chris Leighton, Executive Director of the Institute for Christian & Jewish Studies and a Presbyterian pastor, "An Open Letter to the Presbyterian Church," is extremely important. This is but one small quote from a letter filled with truth and compassion:

"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] I don’t believe that those members of IPMN who allowed and agreed with this document’s statements that Jesus is not the complete revelation of God can be called Christians.