Many in the Presbyterian community as well as the Jewish community are concerned about the extreme positions on Middle East issues taken by some leaders and organizations in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Why do ideas like, Zionism is innately evil, or American Jews are in control of the United States' media and government, keep popping up in publications provided by such Presbyterian entities as the Israel/Palestine Mission Network?
What is not widely understood is the loose connection some of these groups have to fringe extremist organizations and persons. The PC (U.S.A.) is constantly being peppered by anti-Semitic ideas via these loose connections. I am going to give two examples.
On May the 25th I wrote about the Middle East Committee and an unfair and divisive movement that too often tends to take over that committee at General Assembly. I pointed to a link: 'End the Occupation's U.S. Campaign,' which was linked to by IPMN. The movement was trying to raise money to add one of their own as a resource person to the Middle East Committee for General Assembly. There was some extra information I did not add.
If the reader goes to the link, there is a picture and it is of those connected to that group who came to the 220th (2012) GA, including Anna Baltzer who was used as a resource person. I first saw the picture right after the 220 GA, it was posted on the vile web site, Veterans Today. A site whose writers blame Israel for the 9-11 tragedy and the Sandy Hook School shooting.
The article, containing the picture, is "Dear Presbyterians Why it is Apartheid," it was written by Eileen Fleming who at the time wrote for Veterans Today. She was able to use the picture because two of the people in the picture sent it to her. At the end of the comment section Fleming writes:
"I did not shoot the photo-it came in an email from Rae Abileah [bottom right keeling] and Anna Baltzer [standing second from right] and I also see Hedy Epstein in second row-3rd from left, but I do not know anybody else."
That means that these two people, Rae Abileah a member of Code Pink and Anna Baltzer, who is one of the founders of End the Occupation, have this connection to a person who is horribly anti-Semite and has been engaged as a writer for Veterans Today. And these two people have influenced and will undoubtedly again influence the Middle East Committee, if allowed.
However, the more stunning "loose" connection comes via a mission worker for the PC (U.S.A), Rev. Kate Taber. And the connection is to "If Americans Knew." It isn't that Taber necessarily knows anyone who is a part of the organization. (I don't know if she does or not.) But it is the fact that she points to it as a place to gain good information about the Palestinians and Israel.
In a link on IPMN twitter page one is led to Taber's newsletters. In the April. 2014 newsletter at the end is a link with the words, "Need a little more background on this conflict. Try this brief summary from If Americans knew."
If Americans Knew was founded by Alison Weir, a sometimes writer for Veterans News Now, an organization connected to VT, and also for My Catbird Seat, a sister site to Veterans Today. Her summary is "A Synopsis of the Israel/Palestine Conflict." and under Zionism Weir begins:
"In the late 1800s a group in Europe decided to colonize this land. Known as Zionists, they represented an extremist minority of the Jewish population. Their goal was to create a Jewish homeland, and they considered locations in Africa and the Americas, before settling on Palestine." (Italics mine.)
Weir goes on to explain the reason for so many refugees coming to the holyland during Hitler's ethnic cleansing of the Jews. " Hitler's rise to power, combined with Zionist activities to sabotage efforts to place Jewish refugees in western countries, led to increased Jewish immigration to Palestine, and conflict grew." (Italics mine).
Note so far in her summary the early Zionists were extremist and they sabotaged efforts to place Jewish refugees in western countries during the Holocaust. That is in the first few paragraphs. Weir goes on filling her page with many untruths and exaggerations.
One untruth is that the five Arab armies that entered Palestine, to fight against the new state of Israel, only fought on the land meant to be a part of the new Palestinian state.
Truthfully, they fought in Jerusalem which was at the time not a divided city. It was a city where both Jews and Arabs lived, The Jewish eastern section, which had existed for centuries, was emptied of its Jewish population, and it was not to contain Jewish people again until the six day war.* Egypt entered the Negev which had been allotted in the mandate to Israel. Thirteen Jewish settlements in areas assigned to the Arabs were taken and destroyed.
Of course there was destruction of Arab villages too, but the point is Weir's history is deceitful. Her summary useless.
And Weir has other problems. In CounterPunch in 2009, Weir published an article insisting that the Israel Defense Force was selling organs from Palestinian prisoners and she went on to suggest that the blood libel slanders of the Middle ages were based in fact.
There are others, James Wall who is an editor and writer for Veterans News Now, whose articles are often linked to by the Israel Palestine Mission Network. Every so often the IPMN links to the Intifada Palestine; the writers are the same as those at Veterans Today. It publishes the same articles. These are the extremist whose views have here and there seeped into the PC (U.S.A.).
The only way to shake off the anti-Semitism is to recover a sense of fairness toward both sides in the Middle East, to apply Christian concern and love to both sides. One must see the complexities of the situation: Israel needs secure borders, the Palestinians need a homeland. Peace will not come from extreme connections.
*For further information see: The Jerusalem refugees of 1948
Picture by Stephen Larson
To read more on this go to: The Middle East and Peacemaking Committee and the shadows of Veterans Today-Correction
Anita Shapira, Israel: A History, translated, Anthony Berris, (Waltham, Massachusetts: Brandeis University 2012 ) "Part III:1948-1967 Nation Building."