Presbyterian engagement on Israel/Palestine creates ‘new rules’ for relationship with the Jewish community

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Last week we posted the first part of Mark Braverman’s report on how the Presbyterian Church dealt with the ongoing controversy over its position on Israel/Palestine at its General Assembly. Here is the second part.

There were two groups of Jewish attendees at the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Minneapolis early this month. One was composed of several members of Jewish Voice for Peace, Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, and me. We were there at the invitation of the denomination’s Israel Palestine Mission Network to support passage of the Middle East Study Committee Report, “Breaking Down the Walls” and other Middle East-related overtures, including divestment from Caterpillar, recognition that Israel’s policies constitute Apartheid, and endorsement of the Palestine Kairos document. The other group was made up of people from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, and the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies. They were working closely with Presbyterians for Middle East Peace, a group of Presbyterian pastors and seminary professors that had formed for the purpose of opposing these overtures. The strategy they followed was to allow the Presbyterian group to lead the charge, with the Jewish organizations keeping a low profile. Blocking or gutting “Breaking Down the Walls” was the main objective of this ad hoc alliance. The alliance failed to accomplish either objective. I believe that they were surprised at this outcome – Jewish advocacy groups having the final say on Christian words and actions with respect to Israel and Zionism is a time-honored pursuit.  It has been rewarded with success for generations.

Sixty five years ago, the Christian world stood before the ovens of Auschwitz-Birkenau and said, “What have we done?” Since then, Christian-Jewish relations have been driven by the Jewish desire for safety and protection on the one hand and the powerful Christian drive for penitence for millennia of anti-Jewish doctrine and behavior on the other. For Jews, the establishment of the State of Israel has provided the focus of this quest for physical security, dignity, and self-determination. For their part, Christians set about developing a revised theology that renounced the notion that Christians had replaced the Jewish people as God’s chosen, and that granted implicit and in many cases explicit theological justification for political Zionism. The result is that Christian-Jewish “interfaith” relations today follows clear rules – rules that serve to insulate Christians from any appearance of anti-Jewish feeling and that protect the Jewish community from any possible challenge – or even perceived challenge — to unconditional support for the policies of the State of Israel. These rules are playing out in the academy, in the pews, in interfaith relations on the highest levels, and in everyday encounters. They are rendered more powerful by never being stated or acknowledged.

The rules

Fundamentally, there are two rules:

1. “Sensitivity” to “the Jewish perspective” and Jewish self-perception (as defined for all Jews by groups who claim to represent the whole) is paramount. How an action or statement may make some Jews feel trumps all other considerations, values or objectives.

2. The superior right of the Jews to the land is never to be challenged.  One can nibble at the edges — talk about the rights of Palestinians, the need for the land to be shared, etc.  But don’t come close to violating rule #1 – you can’t make us uncomfortable, you can’t bring us too close to looking at the core reasons for the conflict, at the awful consequences of an ethnic nationalist project that has displaced an indigenous population and has created a system that meets the UN definition of the crime of apartheid.

Until recently, these rules have dominated the interfaith discourse in the United States and Western Europe. American Jewish advocacy organizations such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-defamation League, the local and national Federations of Jewish Agencies, and the Jewish religious denominations have relied on these rules in mounting opposition to any actions of Christian denominations perceived to be anti-Israel. Through a combination of charging that the Presbyterian Church’s “anti-Israel” actions and statements are anti-Semitic and expressing outrage over the denomination’s “betrayal” of a historic friendship, these organizations have managed to bully the church into withdrawing or watering down efforts to take effective action in opposition to Israel’s policies and to our own government’s support of these policies.

What happened at the Presbyterian General Assembly early this month is an indication that the rules are no longer working.

“We will remain partners”

On Friday, July 9, 2010, by an 82% majority, the General Assembly approved “Breaking Down the Walls” — modified but still preserving its strong condemnation of Israel’s human rights violations.  That same day, the Jewish groups who had opposed the report, writing under the umbrella of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, issued a public letter. It reads, in part:  “In recognizing Israel’s security needs while striving to remain faithful to the church’s Palestinian Christian partners, the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has embraced a more thoughtful approach to Middle East peacemaking.” The letter noted that although several areas of “serious concern” remained, “the General Assembly has modeled a more inclusive voice on the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We fervently hope that the new Middle East monitoring committee will meet the GA’s charge for authentic balance in the study of and teaching about the complexities of the Middle East. We will remain partners in this pursuit.”

What a change in tone and tactics! The letter is almost conciliatory, markedly milder in tone than the statements that preceded the conference. Recall that in a website posting in March the Wiesenthal Center called the report a “poisonous document,” one that amounted to “nothing short than a declaration of war on Israel.” Prior to the General Assembly, the gloves had come off – in addition to the Christian Century article I described in Part 1 of this posting, the Middle East Study Committee report and other overtures had been subject to a barrage of attacks, including circulating an internet petition that asked signers to send the following message to Presbyterians: “I am deeply disturbed by the dangerous campaign to delegitimize the Jewish State and her supporters launched by a committee that is dominated by activists openly hostile to Israel. They are poised to place the policy of PCUSA on a collision course with Israel’s survival.” In December 2009, the Central Conference of American Rabbis characterized the Kairos document as a supercessionist and anti-Semitic, declaring that “those who would associate themselves with this document and the religious foundation upon which it is based would be erasing years of Christian soul searching and repentance as if they had not been. We expect more from our interfaith partners.”

Contemplating the July 9th JPCA letter, we might ask, where is the outrage, where is the demonization? What has happened to  the bullying, the ultimatums, the preaching, the threats of pulling out of the relationship? Where are the charges that the denomination is making war on Israel and delegitimizing Judaism itself? Reading the letter, one might assume that the church had performed major surgery on the report, removing any shred of language that could be seen as critical of Israel or that threatend its existence or the continued financial and diplomatic support of our country. Or we might assume that, somehow, any such language was now carefully balanced by equal language providing reassurance of support for Israel.

But in fact, the prophetic heart of the document remains. The reason for the change in tone of the American Jewish response is simply this:  the church didn’t back down.

What has changed?

Look at what has changed and what remains in the Middle East Study Committee report:

The report opens with a re-affirmation of previous General Assembly Policies & Statements, preceded by a preamble:

“Given the daunting and mounting obstacles to the viability of a “two-state solution,” and following from the above principles, the 219th General Assembly (2010) affirms with greater urgency our historic Presbyterian stances with specific regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calling for

  1. an immediate cessation of all violence, whether perpetrated by Israelis or Palestinians;
  2. the end of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and diversion of water resources;
  3. an immediate freeze both on the establishment or expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and on the Israeli acquisition of Palestinian land and buildings in East Jerusalem;
  4. the relocation by Israel of the Separation Barrier to the 1967 border;
  5. the withholding of U.S. government aid to the state of Israel as long as Israel persists in creating new West Bank settlements;
  6. continuing corporate engagement through the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment with companies profiting from the sale and use of their products for non-peaceful purposes and/or the violation of human rights;
  7. a shared status for Jerusalem;
  8. equal rights for Palestinian citizens of the state of Israel;
  9. the cessation of systematic violation of human rights by any party, specifically, practices of administrative detention, collective punishment, the torture of prisoners and suspects, home demolitions and evictions, and the deportation of dissidents;
  10. the immediate resumption by Israel and Palestine of negotiations toward a two-state solution.

In the section containing new recommendations, the following changes were made to two key recommendations (added text is in brackets, deleted text is in strikethrough):

f. [Endorses the Kairos Palestine document (“A Moment of Truth”) in its emphases on hope for liberation, nonviolence, love of enemy, and reconciliation; lifts the document up for study and discussion by Presbyterians; and directs the creation of a study guide for the document through the appropriate channel of the General Assembly Mission Council.] [Commends for study the Kairos Palestine document (‘A Moment of Truth’), and endorses the document’s emphases on hope for liberation, nonviolence, love of enemy, and reconciliation. We lift up for study the often neglected voice of Palestinian Christians. We direct the monitoring group for the Middle East to create a study guide for the document].”

b. Calls on the U.S. government to exercise strategically its international influence, including [the possible withholding of military aid as a means of bringing Israel to] [making U.S. aid to Israel contingent upon Israel’s] compliance with international law and peacemaking efforts.”

The report then proceeds with an introductory section titled “Rationale.” Here is an excerpt:

“We deeply value our relationships with Jews and Muslims in the United States, Israel, and the predominantly Muslim countries of the Middle East. Yet the bonds of friendship must neither prevent us from speaking nor limit our empathy for the suffering of others. Inaction and silence on our part enable actions we oppose and consequences we grieve. We recognize how great a burden past misguided actions by our government have placed on Christians throughout the Muslim world. We recognize that massive amounts of U.S tax money are feeding the various conflicts in the Middle East—including two current wars of arguable necessity and Jewish settlements in Palestine.

We also recognize that our concern to end support for both violence in all its forms and the ongoing occupation and settlement of Palestine places demands of integrity on how the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) uses its own resources and investments. Let us be clear: we do affirm the legitimacy of Israel as a state, but consider the continuing occupation of Palestine (West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem) to be illegitimate, illegal under international law, and an enduring threat to peace in the region. Furthermore, we recognize that any support for that occupation weakens the moral standing of our nation internationally and our security.”

Another introductory section is comprised letters to five stakeholders, including fellow Presbyterians, American Muslim friends, Palestinian friends, and Israeli friends.  There is this from “Letter to Our American Jewish Friends:”

“For decades we have worked side-by-side in innumerable causes in our own nation for the sake of justice and human well-being. And yet, with the introduction of the corporate engagement process in 2004 (and the use of the word “divestment”), this relationship has been seriously tested.

We want to be sure to say to you in no uncertain terms: we support the existence of Israel as a sovereign nation within secure and recognized borders. No “but,” no “let’s get this out of the way so we can say what we really want to say.” We support Israel’s existence as granted by the U.N. General Assembly. We support Israel’s existence as a home for the Jewish people. We have said this before, and we say this again. We say it because we believe it; we say it because we want it to continue to be true.

And, at the same time, we are distressed by the continued policies that surround, sustain, and consolidate the occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights, in particular. Many of us come to this work out of a love for Israel. And it is because of this love that we continue to say the things we say about the occupation, the settlement infrastructure, and the absolute death knell it is sounding for the hopes of a two-state solution, a solution that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has supported for more than sixty years.

We also want to make it clear that what we say in moral criticism of policies and actions of the Israeli government should not be used as a battering ram against Israel’s right to membership in the community of nations nor to deepen anti-Semitism or any categorical blame of the Jewish people for the ills of the world. As those whose faith originated in the synagogues of the Fertile Crescent, our love of our common heritage is precious. Anti-Semitism has no place in faithful Christian expression.”

The above gives a sense of how disingenuous is the JCPA response. They are spinning a victory when in fact the most “poisonous” and “anti-Israel” recommendations remain in the report. What has changed is some nuance of wording in the recommendations concerning Kairos and U.S. aid to Israel, and the removal of the Jewish and Palestinian narratives that were judged to be “out of balance.” Read the language of the Letter to American Jews –this is the “poisonous document” that wants to make an end to Israel!  If it wasn’t good enough before its adoption by the denomination, why is it good enough now? Given this, one has to wonder about the meaning of the JPCA statement that “we will remain partners in this pursuit.” I believe that these organizations, having failed to achieve their objective, are more than ever determined to block denominational activism. Indeed, the denomination can expect a continuation of attacks and pressure.  Nothing has changed. This spinning of victory says one thing:  we lost this one.  We’ll be back.

But there is a profound change to be observed in the denomination.  Despite the enormous, organized and close to six-month effort of the organized American Jewish community to influence the voters at the General Assembly and to demonize the report, the denomination endorsed it. The modifications to the document were proposed not in response to Jewish lobbying, but because the committee liked the report – understood its value and importance — and made some changes in order to help ensure its passage. The resulting acceptance of “Breaking Down the Walls” shows that “the rules” no longer apply.

This is hugely important because of what it means for the future and continuation of denominational activism and how that will support grassroots efforts at the congregational and community levels. It means that the charge that principled criticism of the State of Israel is anti-Semitic no longer holds water.  It means that emotional blackmail about friendship betrayed no longer sends Christians scurrying to disavow offending actions or language. The charge that criticism of Israel stems from anti-Semitism was always nonsense — as was the obscene charge that language from Palestinian liberation theology that likens the oppressed of Palestine to Jesus on the cross is a revival of the charge of Christ-killers. Are there anti-Semites among us?  Certainly — but surely they are not steering the ship. When Presbyterians — of all people the most committed (many would say to a fault) to order and to considerate, thoughtful procedures — commission a group at great expense to spend two years studying the problem, including traveling to the region to see the situation with their own eyes, this is not done in an effort to “erase Israel.”  To accuse the denomination of being motivated by anti-Jewish feeling and a desire to destroy Israel just won’t wash.

What kind of partnership?

The JCPA letter talks about the partnership continuing – but what kind of partnership?  What does this “partnership” have to do — to use the language of the Study Committee report — with breaking down the walls that divide people?

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, Director of Interfaith Affairs for the Wiesenthal Center, who was present at the General Assembly, published an article in the Jewish on July 13, five days after the JPCA letter, entitled “Lessons One Rabbi learned from Presbyterian Church (USA).” His tone to the Jewish readership is different than that of the JCPA letter. In the article Rabbi Adlerstein divides Presbyterians into “friends” – those who worked to get rid of what were in his view the “worst” parts of the report — and the unfriendly “heavily pro-Palestinian Middle East Study Committee.”  He accuses the report of accepting the “Arab” narrative and “ignoring” the Israeli, and of blaming everything on Israel’s – here the quotation marks are his — “occupation.” Characterizing the Palestine Kairos document as “a template for anti-Israel activism in churches on both sides of the Atlantic” (it is not), a document that justifies suicide bombing and supports replacement theology (it does neither), the Rabbi takes the General Assembly to task for not repudiating this “notorious” document but instead recommending it for study in churches. Reading this article by Rabby Adlerstein, we have a glimpse of how this “partnership continues.”

The Middle East Study Committee report passed because of Presbyterians’ faithfulness to justice. It passed because the Assembly believed the heart of the report — that justice was being violated. Presbyterians are working to break down walls – between Israelis and Palestinians, between Jews and Christians, and yes, between Christians and Christians – “that stand in the way of the realization of God’s peaceful and just kingdom.”  But as fast as the Presbyterians are breaking down walls, Rabbi Adlerstein is working to throw them back up. In the Jewish Journal piece he issues a call for more “friends” who will continue to battle against all those who seek to “erase” Israel. His world remains a world divided between “pro-Israel” and “anti-Israel.” He closes the article speaking about how the “most painful” part of being at the General Assembly was “listening to Jews who came to passionately endorse every anti-Israel initiative. Our community needs to work harder to understand how to retrieve Jews who today stand at the forefront of delegitimizing Israel [sic] efforts.”

Rabbi Adlerstein is referring to Jeff Halper, the JVPers, and me. He doesn’t get it. We are no more anti-Israel than are the overtures themselves. We were in Minneapolis to support the report and the other overtures because, like the Presbyterians who invited us, we fervently wish for a future of dignity and freedom for Palestinians and for security and peace for the citizens of Israel. We were there because we wish for a time when we as a people can tear down the walls that we have built to separate us from humankind and that cut us off from a recognition of the suffering that we are causing.

Is there a future for a Presbyterian-Jewish “partnership?” Will the wide range of American Jewish organizations listed in the JCPA letter follow the lead of the Wiesenthal Center and continue to adopt an “us and them” attitude? Will they continue to fight the growing movement, at the grassroots and at the highest levels, to bring an end to the illegitimate and destructive policies of Israel? If the Presbyterians are to have true partners in their pursuit of social justice, perhaps they can be found among  the 30 American rabbis who wrote to Judge Richard Goldstone when he was blocked from attending a family Bar Mitzvah in South Africa. Or perhaps the church can be joined by by the Jewish writers and artists who brought out the public letter to protest the San Francisco Jewish Federation’s attempt to establish an “anti-Israel” blacklist, or by the 100+ Jerusalem Jews who wrote in outrage to Eli Wiesel when he claimed Jerusalem exclusively for the Jewish people. (For links to these documents, go to “Signs of Hope from the Jewish community.”) Perhaps the denomination could reach out to those Jewish Israelis who, in a cry for help to save them from their own government’s policies, are calling on the world to support the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (LA Times, August 20, 2009, “Boycott Israel”).

These are potential “Jewish partners.”  But I put the term in quotations as a strong caveat. Seeking out “Jewish partners” should not be confused with engaging in “interfaith dialogue.” The struggle for justice in Palestine is not an interfaith project. It is not about repairing the damage of 2000 years of Christian anti-Jewish behavior and maintaining vigilance about anti-Semitism – although these are important and valid activities. Confusing the pursuit of justice in historic Palestine with interfaith reconciliation has provided the basis for “the rules” for over six decades. The struggle for justice in Palestine is, rather, about building a universal community to confront the full range of urgent issues facing humanity and the planet. We are standing before the prophetic work that must unite us—the fact of being Christian, Jew, or Muslim is not important. (But while we’re on it, what about the potential Muslim partners?  See my friend Jim Wall’s recent blog where he takes up this question.)  What matters is whether we are for triumphalism or community, for exploiting the poor or freeing them from poverty, for despoiling the earth or honoring and preserving it.

That’s the partnership I’m interested in. We find it amply described in the Old and New Testaments, the Kur’an, and the Dhammapada. The call for social justice is one that rings out in all our traditions, and it is a call that the Presbyterian Church (USA) answered in Minneapolis. It is the call issued by Reverend Martin Luther King almost 50 years ago from his jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama:

“…the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.”

King was lifting up a time when the church was “not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.” Recall that King was responding to an appeal from fellow clergy to back off from civil disobedience. They were asking him to him to work through channels and existing relationships with the white community, arguing that this would yield better results than nonviolent resistance. In his letter King was speaking to the church, but his message went out to all of America – reaching across faith communities and eventually transforming the entire society. For the civil rights movement, the church was the bellweather. It was the organizing force at the grassroots that changed the political wind and brought about the change that politics had failed to achieve.

All of us – Presbyterians, Jews (of all persuasions), Muslims –felt that wind blowing in Minneapolis. Moisten a finger — put it in the air – and you will feel it too.

Mark Braverman is the author of Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land. His website is

About Mark Braverman

Mark Braverman serves on the Advisory Board of Friends of Sabeel North America and is National Program Director for Kairos USA. He is the author of A Wall in Jerusalem: Hope, Healing, and the Struggle for Justice in Israel and Palestine, Jericho Books, 2013.

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30 Responses

  1. Scott
    July 22, 2010, 9:38 am

    Thanks for a really informative piece about an little covered subject. I’m curious whether the group Presbyterians for Mid East Peace consciously chose a deceptive name, mimicking Churches for Middle East Peace which really does advocate a fair two state solution and shared Jerusalem. I’m surprised and troubled at some of the signatures on their petition–including a minister I know who seems progressive and should know better.
    Thanks for the report, again.

    • Mark Braverman
      July 22, 2010, 10:01 am

      I agree, the branding was first rate — for sure they had some good communications people working for them — presentation at the GA and before was well done. Re your reference to CMEP, however, I don’t think that CMEP took a position on the Presbyterian report but I’m not sure the organization would have been solidly with it, but that’s another story. To your other other point, yes, there were quite a few names on the list, including some very prominent pastors and, very prominently represented and leading the charge, Auburn Seminary, which certainly should know better, given its legacy of Walter Wink, a giant in Liberation Theology, who I believe would considered the report having not gone far enough in condemning injustice and demanding resistance!

  2. kylebisme
    July 22, 2010, 9:50 am

    For their part, Christians set about developing a revised theology that renounced the notion that Christians had replaced the Jewish people as God’s chosen, and that granted implicit and in many cases explicit theological justification for political Zionism.
    Actually, Christians gave birth to political Zionism back when nary a Jew in the world wanted anything to do with Palestine.

    • DICKERSON3870
      July 22, 2010, 10:58 am

      RE: ” Christians gave birth to political Zionism” – kylebisme
      MY COMMENT: Thanks for the link. Very interesting. Apparently this country (referring to the European settlers/infiltrators) has always had an abundance of religious nutjobs.

    • wondering jew
      July 22, 2010, 6:57 pm

      kylebisme- obviously you’re speaking rhetorically, because there were Jews in Israel/Palestine way before there was political Zionism, as is so often pointed out here on this blog, when people are trying to prove that Jews and Moslems got along fine when the percentages and attitudes were very different.

      • kylebisme
        July 22, 2010, 8:16 pm

        My bad, I’d meant “nary a Jew in the world wanted anything to do with taking control over Palestine.”

  3. Avi
    July 22, 2010, 11:43 am

    Sixty five years ago, the Christian world stood before the ovens of Auschwitz-Birkenau and said, “What have we done?” Since then, Christian-Jewish relations have been driven by the Jewish desire for safety and protection on the one hand and the powerful Christian drive for penitence for millennia of anti-Jewish doctrine and behavior on the other.

    And that’s how the Muslim world — Palestinians in particular – became the victim.

    • Mooser
      July 22, 2010, 2:29 pm

      Sure, I get it! If the Palestinians get anything, even just a reduction in suffering, than Hitler might as well have won! Makes perfect sense!

      • Avi
        July 22, 2010, 5:50 pm

        Mooser, I don’t understand your post. Care to explain?

      • Mooser
        July 22, 2010, 6:28 pm

        I’m sorry, it was all gobbled. It seems to me that Zionists are saying that if the Palestinians get anything, even just a reduction in their suffering, it equals a win for Hitler. That the desire not to be kicked out of your own home is comparable to the Nazi’s desire to exterminate the Jews.

      • Avi
        July 22, 2010, 9:22 pm

        Alright I see what you’re saying. And yes, there is that element there. It’s as if the slightest protest against Israel’ policies of home demolitions, for example, is tantamount to being marched back into concentration camps in Germany. For the sake of accuracy, my statement doesn’t apply to Jews worldwide, but to a select group — especially Zionists — who keep using the Holocaust as cover, for a lack of a better word, for Israel’s crimes.

        So, that brings me full circle back to my original comment that the Palestinians continue to pay the price for the Holocaust because of western guilt, Christian guilt and a desire to make up for past atrocities by satisfying Israel’s demands, regardless of the consequences to the Palestinians.

        Thanks, Mooser. That was a good point.

  4. Don
    July 22, 2010, 12:45 pm

    One more extraordinary post, Mark. Great depth of understanding, which I have found personally very helpful (along with articles on your web page.)

    It seems to me the “rules” you mention are not only quite real, but the Christian denominations who have adhered to these rules, have done Jews no favors by doing so.

    And your comment “…the fact of being Christian, Jew, or Muslim is not important”…I agree with completely.

    Great work, Mark. I have no doubt this has not been an easy process for you.

  5. Mooser
    July 22, 2010, 2:41 pm

    Just one thing bothers me, I wish, when referring to the efforts of the Zionists, the author would say “some Jews” or “Zionist Jews and their supporters”, or simply Zionists believe.
    At no time was Zionism, as the overall aim for the Jews of the world put through any kind of a ratifying procedure, or was their any attempt even to define what its limits were insofar as calling itself “Jewish”. And the canard that it was should never, ever be acknowledged.
    People who belong to more centralised churches, where something like a resolution to form a state by political manipulation and violence would be debated, given a uniform wording, voted on either by the membership or representatives, think that Judaism works the same way. It does not.
    The Jews never had a chance to say, for instance ‘We like Zionism, but don’t do this, or that, and this is too high a price, and we should wait rather than do this, or that’
    I don’t think the idea that Zionism was ever ratified by “the Jews” should ever be given credence. The Zionists acted on their own initiative, not under the auspices of “the Jews”. That, they stole.
    In fact, the idea that “the Jews”, as such could sanction, ratify and plan a project of political manipulation, public relations and violence necessary to a colonial project is in itself anti-Semitic, to my thinking, if you want to be generous and call it that. I hope you do.

    • Mooser
      July 22, 2010, 2:46 pm

      As an example, the Presbyterians have an extensive administrative structure to their church, but the “Jewish” viewpoint was represented by private (non-profit) groups. See what I mean. Did anyone start out by questioning if those groups represented, “the Jews”, Israel, Zionism, or themselves? Were they under any obligation to prove they were entitled to parlay with them on a Church-to-Church (so to speak) level?

    • kylebisme
      July 22, 2010, 3:03 pm

      Actually, organized Jewry was so opposed to Zionism from the start that:

      The first Zionist Congress was called by Theodor Herzl as a symbolic Parliament for those in sympathy with the implementation of Zionist goals. Herzl had planned to hold the gathering in Munich, but due to local Jewish opposition he transferred the gathering to Basel, Switzerland.

      It wasn’t until after the Shoah that Zionism gained mainstream support amongst Jews, the Nazis having murdered much of the opposition while letting Jews who embraced Zionism immigrate to Palestine.

      • Mooser
        July 22, 2010, 3:35 pm

        “that Zionism gained mainstream support amongst Jews,”

        I’m not trying to quibble, but “gaining mainstream support amongst Jews” is not the same thing as having Zionism debated on the basis of how it comports with Judaism, and them formulated into doctrine and policy and ratified.
        There’s no need to give Zionists validation they don’t deserve.

      • Mooser
        July 22, 2010, 3:55 pm

        Maybe at the next All World Jewish Convention I can get the proposition on the agenda: “Resolved, that the Jews should form a Jewish supremacist State by political manipulation, ethnic cleansing and violence, and increase the territory of that State by gains in war.”

      • wondering jew
        July 22, 2010, 4:10 pm

        kyklebisme- Germany had the highest survival rate for Jews of any country that the Nazis occupied, annexed or ruled. That was because from 1933 Germany made clear to the Jews that they weren’t welcome. Those who could afford it, left. Most of them went elsewhere besides Palestine. It may be true that those who ended up in Palestine survived and those who escaped to the Netherlands (for example) ended up dead, but that was not because of the Nazis preferential treatment of Zionists.

        In any case, Germany was never the great home of Zionism. Eastern Europe (particularly those lands ruled by the Czars from 1790 until 1917) was the great home of Zionism. And in Eastern Europe the Nazis didn’t differentiate between Zionists and nonZionists or antiZionists. They killed them all, or at least all they could get their hands on.

        Post WWII Jewish mainstream support for Zionism did not have to do with the Nazi selections. It had to do with the fact that the universalism that was at the core of the Jewish secular belief system previous to WWII was shattered by the Nazis, their collaborators and the world’s apathetic onlookers. Maybe that shattering was a mistake. (Maybe in fact the world could be trusted to take care of its Jews? No. That assumption is fallacious. The world cannot be counted on to protect anyone. Rwanda’s Tutsi’s found that out 17 years ago.) But that may be beside the point. Maybe despite the fact that the world looks away when it is convenient, universalism is still the best philosophy around. It might be shitty from time to time, but it may be better than nationalism when we get down to cases. But in the aftermath of Auschwitz few Jews were in that state of mind. Their state of mind was: we have to worry about ourselves. The world doesn’t give a shit. That was what was different after WWII, not the population of Zionist Jews based upon the Nazis selections. (Read Isaac Deutscher, who obviously felt that this abandonment of universalism was regrettable and hoped that the Jews would recover.)

        (I find your theory regarding the post WWII mainstream Jewish pro Zionist opinion to be ignorant and offensive.)

      • Mooser
        July 22, 2010, 5:15 pm

        “It had to do with the fact that the universalism that was at the core of the Jewish secular belief system previous to WWII was shattered by the Nazis,”

        Normally, Wondering Jew, it would be hard to accept that kind of a generalisation without at least a link, if not half a dozen books and studies. But considering you made it, I mean, what other proof is needed?
        And naturally, this shattering of this “universalism” (I don’t think thaty word means what you don’t think it does, by the way) led Jews to put all their trust in Zionism, automatically, no matter what they thought of its actions or leaders? Of course, if you say so, dear. Why would anyone need to substantiate something so obvious?

      • kylebisme
        July 22, 2010, 8:27 pm

        It may be true that those who ended up in Palestine survived and those who escaped to the Netherlands (for example) ended up dead, but that was not because of the Nazis preferential treatment of Zionists.

        The Nazis’ preferential treatment of Zionists played a part, as did Zionists’ disregard for Jews who didn’t share their ethnic-nationalist ideology, evidenced by the quotes listed here.

  6. Mark Braverman
    July 22, 2010, 3:31 pm

    Thanks Mooser and Kylebisme, point taken and I agree completely. I often make the point, and apparently it continues to keep needing to be made, that the “Jewish community” is not a monolith, and continue to call the ADL, Wiesenthal Center and the other “advocacy” groups (not to mention the academics, Jewish as well as Christian, called into service to serve up the intellectual backing for this agenda) on claiming to represent this non-existent consensus. I’ll be more careful.

    • Mooser
      July 22, 2010, 3:50 pm

      Thanks for responding, Mark, and thanks for the extensive report.

    • kylebisme
      July 22, 2010, 8:39 pm

      All good, but I believe an important but commonly overlooked fact is that Jews have always been a minatory of the Zionists in the world, while the vast majority are Christians, as that completely undermines the misguided notion that anti-Zionism is an expression of Judeophobia. Also worth considering is the support from robber barons like J.D. Rockefeller and J. P. Morgan, as such individuals have always been the real source of power behind the Zionist movement, and again most of them not Jewish by any stretch.

      Regardless, I thank you much for your report.

  7. Mooser
    July 22, 2010, 5:17 pm

    “Jewish secular belief system “

    ROTFL! That must be like the Jewish atheist belief system “eee” was always wailing about, or maybe not quite as bad.
    I like you, Wondering. You never let religion get mixed up with your Judaism. That’s very admirable.

  8. wondering jew
    July 22, 2010, 5:23 pm

    link to

    isaac deutscher’s the nonjewish jew

    • Mooser
      July 22, 2010, 6:39 pm

      Well, Wondering Jew, if you think there is some benefit in being Jewish without being a Jew, or rather in being a Jew without being Jewish, you go right ahead, you don’t need my permission.
      But really, you’re not fooling anybody, okay? But if it makes you feel less ashamed, makes you feel like you have some control over how other’s see you (beyond your actions, of course) whatever gets you through that long dark night of the soul.
      It’s no excuse for not getting married and producing Jewish children, I’ll tell you that, Wondering. If you won’t make love for the Jewish people, how in the hell can we believe you would make war for us?

      • wondering jew
        July 22, 2010, 7:03 pm

        Looks like the junior high thug is trying to prove to the outsiders who are here for the first time (having heard the great report about how this is a hate israel spot) how congenial this commenters section is for really dealing with issues. bravissimo j.h. thug.

      • potsherd
        July 22, 2010, 7:30 pm

        WJ – if a line isn’t effective the first time you use it, keep using it a dozen times more. Make sure you’re irrelevant.

      • wondering jew
        July 22, 2010, 7:41 pm

        potsherd- come to back up his good friend, mooser. come to prove how this comments section is a place of ideas.

      • potsherd
        July 22, 2010, 9:35 pm

        This comments section is often a place of whiners.

        You said an offensive thing about Phil. You denied him his right to his Judaism. You said he isn’t a real Jew because his children aren’t Jewish halachically, that only a Jew who produces Jewish children is a real Jew.

        Yet you have produced no children and thus no Jewish children, at the same time claiming superiority over Phil as Jew. You’re the real Jew who gets to pass judgement on other Jews’ Judaism when you don’t qualify by your own stated critrion.

        This makes you a rank hypcrite and a ripe target for mockery. Which you deserve.

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