Church of Scotland backs away from boycott call in the face of pressure

Israel/Palestine

Last week the Church of Scotland issued a short, stern report on Israeli settlement activity, called “The Inheritance of Abraham?  A Report on the ‘Promised Land,” urging the church to take action against the occupation, including boycott and disinvestment.

Leaders of the Jewish community flipped out over the report, particularly its assertions that the Bible and the Holocaust were being misused to justify expansion, as well as statements like this: “Christians should not be supporting any claims by Jewish or any other people to an exclusive or even privileged divine right to possess particular territory.”

The ADL’s Abe Foxman said the paper “negated the beliefs of Judaism,” while a Scottish Jewish organization said the report was reminiscent of the Inquisition’s polemics against Jews. (Marc Ellis wrote about it on our site.) 

Well, the church retreated yesterday. It’s going to “reword” the report; and the original is no longer featured on the Church of Scotland’s website. (Here’s the old link: it goes nowhere.)

Here’s a portion of a statement the church issued along with Jewish orgs. It seems to concede that the original language contributed to a “culture of anti-Semitism.” 

9 May 2013
The Church of Scotland and representatives of the Jewish Community in Scotland and the United Kingdom, held useful discussions facilitated by the Council of Christians and Jews this afternoon, Thursday 8 May. We agreed that the drafting of the report published by the Church and Society Council for discussion at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has given cause for concern and misunderstanding of its position and requires a new introduction to set the context for the report and give clarity about some of the language used.
In particular the Church of Scotland needs to be explicit about some things that are implicit policies of the Church:
There is no change in the Church of Scotland’s long held position of the right of Israel to exist.
The Church condemns all violence and acts of terrorism, where ever they happen in the world.
The concern of the Church about the injustices faced by the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories remain firm, but that concern should not be misunderstood as questioning the right of the State of Israel to exist.
That the Church condemns all things that create a culture of anti Semitism.

 

The Guardian says the Church bagged the paper under political pressure:

The concession emerged after Daniel Taub, the Israeli ambassador to the UK, accused the church of perpetuating anti-Semitic views by challenging the basis of Jewish ties and belief in Israel, and distorting the basis of Zionism.

“This report not only plays into extremist political positions, but negates and belittles the deeply held Jewish attachment to the land of Israel in a way which is truly hurtful,” Taub said.

“If a document of this nature is adopted by the Church of Scotland it would mark a significant step backwards for the forces of tolerance and peace in our region.”

Here is more about the original from the JPost:

The paper, entitled “The Inheritance of Abraham,” rejects “claims that scripture offers any peoples a privileged claim for possession of a particular territory.” The paper further states that “reconciliation can only be possible if the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the blockade of Gaza are ended.”

The report was published online this week by the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland ahead of the church’s general assembly on May 18. The report’s introduction describes it as the council’s “latest reflection on the ‘questions that need to be faced,’ as the political and humanitarian situation in the Holy Land continues to be a source of pain and concern for us all.”

About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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62 Responses

  1. Blownaway
    May 10, 2013, 10:59 pm

    See Annie this is why no battle is too small

  2. American
    May 11, 2013, 12:37 am

    ”It seems to concede that the original language contributed to a “culture of anti-Semitism.”

    Zionist don’t care about anti semitism. The anti semitism accusation is a tool they use to try and enforce on the world that idea that Jews and any deeds ‘done by anything Jewish ‘, particularly Israel, are unassailable —that they are earthly ‘Gods ‘ by virtue of their holocaust and therefore a unquestionable deity.
    This is the racism of zionism, it’s more than ordinary racism actually , it’s pure insanity.

    • seafoid
      May 11, 2013, 5:10 am

      Yeah. The land of Israel is totally Jewish, it is written in the Bible and that gives them the god given authority to shaft the Palestinians.

      I think this Church of Scotland thing fits into a pattern like waves crashing onto the base of a cliff. So far the Bots’ summerhouse has not been flooded but it’s only a matter of time before the whole thing falls into the sea.

      Oppression is not Jewish.

      • pabelmont
        May 11, 2013, 8:54 am

        Oppression is not Jewish? Are you sure? TheDersh ™ was quoted here recently to the effect that Kahane’s “values” were just as authentically “Jewish” as Beinart’s “values”. That means (to me) that a “tent” of “values” big enough for Beinart and Kahane (and Jabotinski and Begin and Shamir and Sharon and the current crop is a “tent” big enough to hold “oppression” as an authentic Jewish value.

        I think what you mean is that the nicey-nice Jews who live outside Israel and who have, over the years, managed to conform their behavior (and their stated beliefs, and in many cases dank sei Gott their actual beliefs) to being good citizens and supporters of human rights, and the like, do not exhibit — and often actually decry — oppression.

        There have been far too many rabbinic statements (made in Israel, to be sure, but authentic Judaism must, surely, be deemed to exist even inside Israel, mustn’t it?) saying stuff like its OK to kill non-Jews with very little cause (to say nothing of the IOF’s rules of engagement that permit long distance assassination of kids) to persuade me that “authentic Judaism” contains “multitudes” including oppression, terrorism, and much else that i dislike intensely.

        It might be argued that what we are seeing (by way of oppression, terrorism, etc.) is not an expression of authentic Judaism but, rather, non-authentic or fake-Jewish actions, ordinary (human) (criminal) (mob) actions of the sort taken by people all over the world all the time, and although no “Jewish” are no worse than anybody else’s bad behavior.

        But in that case, why are Israelis “allowed” to hide under the flag of “Jewish” when demanding Biblical (and anti-anti-Semitic) sanction for their territorial grabbing — whilst also “allowed” to hide under the flag of “ordinary human action” to cover their atrocities?

        I’d wish the Scots to address that. And, oh yes, to address why the words of the Old Testament, seemingly believed by some Israeli Jews as promises by God, should be so regarded by Scottish Christians — and allowed to trump international humanitarian law.

        • seafoid
          May 11, 2013, 9:46 am

          No religion can run nihilism 4.0 for very long. It interferes with the gears after a while. The Jews couldn’t have kept it going this long if they had always been led by people of the calibre of Danny Danon and the Holy Book was written by someone like the Dersh.

          Otherwise how did the Song of Songs ever get written ?

        • W.Jones
          May 11, 2013, 3:52 pm

          Seafoid,

          Can one say that Jewish society actually split in the first few centuries AD, where a part of it, located in Palestine, developed Christianity and then embraced it? Thus among Palestinian Christians we see a continuation of certain main elements in ancient Jewish religious society- philosophical emphasis on repentance, asceticism (eg. among the prophets), simplicity and down to earth agricultural ways of life? Further, religious forms among Palestinian churches also more closely resembles Jewish ones.

          Meanwhile, particularly in the European rabbinical communities one can see a continuation of certain similar elements as well as different ones. You talk about Dersh in a negative way, but wasn’t he also a liberal civil rights lawyer? Didn’t the founding fathers in America own slaves? So perhaps when put in one context a community can be progressive and produce good literature, while in another context, can appear reactionary (as in the slave ownership example).

          In other words, perhaps there was an exclusionary streak in part of the religious society before the 1st century, even at the same time as they were writing the uplifting ancient poetic scriptures. Then, even after the split in the first century, one can find positive aspects with both groups, depending on the context?

        • seafoid
          May 12, 2013, 2:12 am

          W Jones

          “You talk about Dersh in a negative way, but wasn’t he also a liberal civil rights lawyer? ”

          My take is that Dersh’s generation was traumatised by the Shoah and lost its bearings. He himself probably has strong feelings of guilt and responsibility and I imagine nobody ever had a private word with him about what he was doing.

          I would be surprised to find a strain of Judaism going back 1000 years that was as dominant and as rabid as Dersh and his friends. That sort of intense energy does not tend to replicate indefinitely. Reality intrudes eventually.

        • W.Jones
          May 12, 2013, 12:15 pm

          Seafoid,

          You wrote:

          I would be surprised to find a strain of Judaism going back 1000 years that was as dominant and as rabid as Dersh and his friends.

          If you mean within the last 1000 years, what do you think about Israel Shahak’s work? Doesn’t he give examples of a strain within the community that in some ways is even less tolerant than the supporters of the Israeli State?

          When you say “I imagine nobody ever had a private word with him about what he was doing
          Do you mean no one ever talked with him privately on the topic of his advocacy on the IP issue who disagreed with it?

  3. W.Jones
    May 11, 2013, 12:48 am

    According to Chomsky, states are not people, and although they can be recognized and given loyalty, they do not have a “right” to exist. How can a church make a religious statement of faith that political states have a “right to exist”? The Church in the USSR made a statement of loyalty to the Soviet Union at one point, but did it ever make a statement that it had a “right” to exist? Chomsky pointed out that Egypt’s treaty with Israel recognized the latter, but never announced it had a “right” to exist.

    As to the statement’s opposition to “all things that create a culture of anti Semitism”, this sounds vague. Doesn’t a system dedicated to one cultural-religious group, in a land where there are two, indirectly generate intolerance for the ruling group? If so, wouldn’t that system qualify under the quotation?

    Alternately, couldn’t one claim that opposition to the group’s rule “creates” “intolerance” against the group?

    Ultimately, I guess the first statement could be argued either way philosophically, and even if one says that the State has a “right” to exist it still has to follow international laws and cannot impose a discriminatory system. The second statement is also vague and therefore can be skewed in either direction.

    • W.Jones
      May 11, 2013, 1:17 am

      So adherents of that religious denomination now are supposed to religiously reject Chomsky’s view that states in general do not have such a “right”?

      • MK_Ultra
        May 11, 2013, 10:24 am

        First, they would have to define “state” – It appears that the State of Palestine has the same right to exist as that of the State of Isreal. Even if the latter only exists on the land stolen from the former.

        • W.Jones
          May 11, 2013, 12:43 pm

          MK,

          Maybe they are confusing people’s right to self-determination with a State’s supposed “right to exist”? If Scotland and other countries in the UK choose to have independence, does it infringe on the UK’s “right” to exist?

          Italian Americans have a right to self-determination. But if no one else in America agrees with them setting their own State up, it doesn’t infringe their self-determination, because one people’s right doesn’t trump another’s.

          In 1948 what was the ratio of populations? Why does one population get to trump the self-determination of a larger one in the same territory?

        • RoHa
          May 11, 2013, 9:55 pm

          “Italian Americans have a right to self-determination.”

          As residents in and citizens of the United States, but not as an “ethnic group”.

        • W.Jones
          May 11, 2013, 10:49 pm

          YeahHuh. What do you do about the fact that peoples have a right to self-determination, and there are also various peoples in the US?

          The best answer I imagine is that they do have this right, but it does not trump other people’s rights, and so as a result a minority group cannot declare unilateral and total independence from the US without care for democratic norms.

          Havin’Fun.

        • RoHa
          May 12, 2013, 8:41 pm

          “What do you do about the fact that peoples have a right to self-determination, and there are also various peoples in the US?”

          “Peoples” (ethnic groups) do not have the right to self determination. That right belongs all and only the people resident in a specific territory. The entire population of the territory is the “people”.

          We have thrashed this out ad nauseam in previous posts.

          (I might add that one of the arguments against ethnic groups having such a right is that in mixed areas it will lead to the absurdity of the right of one group annulling the right of another group.)

      • American
        May 11, 2013, 12:16 pm

        W.Jones

        Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.

        That is what you need go by here on earth and leave the rest of the questions for whatever after life you beleve in.
        Cause whatever God(s) exist is not going to e mail his religious adherents an answer to their state right to exist question.
        That’s going to be left up to the Caesars here on earth.

        • W.Jones
          May 11, 2013, 7:02 pm

          “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.”

          American, do you know that this quote was made as an answer to the question of a Zionist State?

          That is, one of the nationalist Jewish revolutionaries asked whether one should pay taxes to the Roman empire or not. Jesus’ answer was to point to the fact that the coins in circulation had Caesar’s image, so paying those coins in taxes would be giving them back to Caesar. Jesus’ answer fit within his view that the State or “kingdom” he was building as a spiritual one, rather than a political one.

          As a result, your words “their state right to exist question is going to be left up to the Caesars here on earth” are also a good answer to the latest change in the Church of Scotland’s position. The Church of Scotland leadership most recently announced that they support the political State’s “right” to exist. Yet based on Jesus’ answer that you quoted above, this kind of political announcement about an earthly State should better be left up to the Caesars of the world, rather than to a church. The church should be in the business of a Spiritual kingdom, rather than an earthly one.

          Should the State in the Holy Land be “officially Christian”, perhaps an argument could be made that a Christian organization should support the State’s “right to exist”, but that is not what is happening. The P.A. is more “officially Christian”, considering it celebrates Christmas and has Christian politicians. With that in mind, why didn’t they invite Palestinian leaders to their latest session when they chose to address this earthly political question too?

        • Hostage
          May 12, 2013, 4:41 am

          American: Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s.
          That is what you need go by here on earth and leave the rest of the questions for whatever after life you believe in.

          W.Jones: American, do you know that this quote was made as an answer to the question of a Zionist State?

          The Pharisees and Herodians who asked the question were supposedly laying a trap. There is a prohibition in the Torah against appointing a foreigner as King, even a proper convert. The situation with Herod and Caesar probably begged the question if it was lawful to pay the taxes that these foreigners had decreed? The likely (negative) answer would have been reported to the authorities as a sign of insurrection.

          The listeners knew all of the Hebrew scriptures by rote. So they understood the reply that the image of Caesar on the coin was meant to be analogous to the Torah teaching that we all somehow bear God’s image and likeness and must give ourselves over to Him completely.

          But you are missing the point. This story is the sequel to the one about the “Keys to the Kingdom”. It explains how they will be taken from the Scribes and Pharisees who framed this legal conundrum. Those are powers granted to the Church Councils to render judgments over both mundane and spiritual matters in the here and now.

          There are parallels to the story of Moses in Numbers 11, where God took a measure of the Holy Spirit resting on Moses and bestowed it on seventy of the elders who in-turn prophesied. Moses expressed a desire at the time that all of the Lord’s people could be prophets and that He would bestow his Spirit on them. By happy coincidence, the prophet Joel latter foretold that God would eventually do exactly that, and pour-out His Spirit on all flesh.

          Thats the point of this series of Christian stories, like the one where Simon declares that Jesus is the Christ, or the Messiah. The disciples are informed that flesh and blood had not revealed that information to him. They were also told that gift, i.e. prophesy resulting from a bestowal of the Holy Spirit would be the foundation of the Church or Congregation of the Lord.

          At one and the same time it explains the source of Divine authority for Councils to render temporal judgments and settle disputes, instead of the Judges who had normally been appointed to handle that chore for Israel in the past, i.e. Judges and officers shall you appoint in all your cities & etc.

          So it’s actually relevant to a discussion about the authority of the upcoming deliberations of the Church of Scotland to reach a decision on this or any other matter. You see that in the Christian movement after Pentecost. In Acts Chapter 15 the Church Council deduces from the evidence that the Gentiles had already received the Holy Spirit in the same fashion as the Jews, without the need for baptism or circumcision and announce that they and the Holy Spirit had disposed of the question. It was the Holy Spirit, not baptism or circumcision, that was intended to be the basis for the establishment of the congregation.

          FYI, the ancient rabbinical college in Yavneh took over as the successors of the Great Sanhedrin after the Temple was destroyed. They also claimed the authority to hand down legal judgments in matters concerning the congregation on almost an identical spiritual basis.

          I’ve noted elsewhere that Gershom Scholem accused the Apostle Paul of caving in to the Gentiles on the necessity of circumcision and the dietary laws. But he admits that antinomianism is inherent in mainstream Judaism too. See The Crisis of Tradition in Jewish Messianism link to scribd.com

          The end result from a secular point of view is competing worldviews based upon Christian and Jewish triumphalism. The Church Council held that Gentiles need not observe all of the commandments. The rabbis held that Gentiles need not study the Torah, because it wasn’t applicable to them in the first place. They only need to observe the so-called seven Noahide laws which closely resemble the things the Church council prescribed in Acts 15. In the world to come Jews will only observe a few festivals like Purim and look forward to a revision of the commandments. It’s a difference that makes very little difference.

        • American
          May 12, 2013, 11:05 am

          @W Jones

          “The church should be in the business of a Spiritual kingdom, rather than an earthly one.’

          No I actually didn’t know where that Ceasar quote originally came from…interesting.
          And I agree the churches should stay in the spiritual business. They can rightly criticize and be active on worldly human injustices like Palestine and others.
          And I think this statement……” “The Inheritance of Abraham,” rejects “claims that scripture offers any peoples a privileged claim for possession of a particular territory.” ….is a spiritual and christian one.

          But what disturbs me is everyone ‘takes the bait’ on the Zio ‘states right to exist’ accusation and then looks into Christianity/religion for a response to it…..when it’s not a religious or spiritual question…..it’s a Ceasar question.

          I think when a church makes a statement denying ..”any peoples a privileged claim’ (over others)… then that is the sum of the issue….something accepted/recognized by 99% of the world.
          So when people get into the earthly ‘states rights” so forth they are actually diluting the real core of what the church is taking a stand on.
          Imo the church should reply to the zio’s red herring accusations by just saying something like, …’the politics of states rights to exist is not within the pervue of the Church, the equality of all people on earth and in the eyes of God is within our pervue and that is what our position reflects.’
          That’s the only reply to the zio’s needed….full stop.

          Let the zio’s then rail against the ‘all people equal in the eyes of God’ if they want…..and further ruin themselves in the process.

        • W.Jones
          May 13, 2013, 3:29 am

          American,

          I basically agree with you- you are making good points.

          In Hostage’s last message above (‘The Pharisees and Herodians who asked…’), his response was deep, and the part at the end was appealing and made sense, where it basically sums up old traditional Jewish and Christian philosophical points on this topic, and finds that they would equal eachother in reality.

  4. Hostage
    May 11, 2013, 2:42 am

    The link to the original report is no longer working on the Church of Scotland server or Google cache. Here are a couple of others:

    * link to windowintopalestine.blogspot.com
    * link to scribd.com

  5. Justpassingby
    May 11, 2013, 4:30 am

    “The concession emerged after Daniel Taub, the Israeli ambassador..”

    Once again Israel meddling in affairs thats its none of their business.

  6. Shmuel
    May 11, 2013, 6:47 am

    I’m going to do the “as a Jew” thing — apologies to anyone who finds it offensive.

    As a Jew, I too reject “claims that scripture offers any peoples a privileged claim for possession of a particular territory”, and am offended by the suggestion that such a statement in any way “perpetuates anti-Semitism” or “negates and belittles … deeply held Jewish” beliefs of any kind. Judaism is denigrated not by those who uphold universal values, but by those who claim that oppression, domination, racism and exclusion are core Jewish values worthy of respect and understanding.

    The words of Dr. Simon Shereshevsky (an Orthodox Jew, and leader of “Ihud” – The League for Jewish-Arab Rapprochement) bear repeating:

    People are speaking of “Greater Israel” and God’s promise to Abraham “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river” (Gen 15:18). Most of those who cite the verse are fascist unbelievers, or believers and God fearers with fascist opinions. What is the practical, real meaning today of the words, “To your descendants I have given this land,”, when Arabs have lived for generations on a great part of this territory. Who and what will symbolize this “greater Israel”? The soldier who is armed “from the sole of his foot to the top of his head,” the armored vehicle and the tank that strikes fear in the hearts of the citizens who live under a regime of “emergency regulations”?

    • MK_Ultra
      May 11, 2013, 10:19 am

      As a goy, I repeat the wise words of Rabbi Gedalya Liebermann of Jews Against Zionism which support and expand on yours:

      link to jewsagainstzionism.com

      “Spiritually and Physically Responsible ”

      From its’ inception, many rabbis warned of the potential dangers of Zionism and openly declared that all Jews loyal to G-d should stay away from it like one would from fire. They made their opinions clear to their congregants and to the general public. Their message was that Zionism is a chauvinistic racist phenomenon which has absolutely naught to do with Judaism. They publicly expressed that Zionism would definitely be detrimental to the well being of Jews and Gentiles and that its effects on the Jewish religion would be nothing other than destructive. Further, it would taint the reputation of Jewry as a whole and would cause utter confusion in the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. Judaism is a religion. Judaism is not a race or a nationality. That was and still remains the consensus amongst the rabbis.

      We were given the Holy Land by G-d in order to be able to study and practice the Torah without disturbance and to attain levels of holiness difficult to attain outside of the Holy Land. We abused the privilege and we were expelled. That is exactly what all Jews say in their prayers on every Jewish festival, “Umipnay chatoenu golinu mayartsaynu” – “Because of our sins we were expelled from our land”.

      We have been forsworn by G-d “not to enter the Holy Land as a body before the predestined time”, “not to rebel against the nations”, to be loyal citizens, not to do anything against the will of any nation or its honour, not to seek vengeance, discord, restitution or compensation; “not to leave exile ahead of time.” On the contrary; we have to be humble and accept the yoke of exile. To violate the oaths would result in “your flesh will be made prey as the deer and the antelope in the forest,” and the redemption will be delayed.

      • seafoid
        May 11, 2013, 12:25 pm

        “We were given the Holy Land by G-d in order to be able to study and practice the Torah without disturbance and to attain levels of holiness difficult to attain outside of the Holy Land. ”

        Hebron is supposed to be holy

        Here is a ceremony that means so much more in Erez Israel than just being an arsehole in Galut.

      • American
        May 11, 2013, 12:37 pm

        @MK_Ultra

        That’s impressive except for two things :

        ‘We were given the Holy Land by G-d’

        &

        ‘On the contrary; we have to be humble and accept the yoke of exile.’

        The idea that God gave any people a special parcel of land on earth is exactly the Judaism thread Zionist latch onto.
        And the having to be ‘humble’ is not a bad thing for people, but combined with the idea of punishment and suffering, being ‘on the outs’ so to speak, that is so pervasive in Judaism I can see where human nature would lead people to rebel against that ‘humbling’ identity given the opportunity….which is what zionism gave them…an opportunity to rebel against the humble status.

      • W.Jones
        May 11, 2013, 12:46 pm

        In Christian thinking, Christians are not “goy” (other nations), because they have been joined into God’s people.

        Christians “once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:10)

      • Shmuel
        May 11, 2013, 1:23 pm

        MK,

        With all due respect to Rabbi Liebermann and ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionists in general, their arguments are fundamentally reactionary and of little relevance to those who do not share their very narrow worldview. I have read both Yoel Teitlebaum’s Vayo’el Moshe and the earlier Orthodox anti-Zionist anthology Or layeshorim, and have found very little of modern theological or ethical value in either work.

    • W.Jones
      May 11, 2013, 11:25 am

      What is the practical, real meaning today of the words, “To your descendants I have given this land,”,

      It also says about Abraham, “I will make you the father of many nations”. How can other nations be descendants of Abraham? Perhaps this is like references to a king as the “father” of his people or God as a “father”. That is, it isn’t limited to just one nation after all. Hence, when Christian nations trace themselves to Abraham and follow his worship of Abraham’s God, does this apply to them too?

      And what about the many Palestinian inhabitants who are descended from Abraham in a physical sense too?

      • Shmuel
        May 11, 2013, 1:03 pm

        W. Jones,

        I think Dr. Shereshevsky’s argument is very similar to that of the Church of Scotland in its original report. There is a sense of morality and justice that guides religious faith and tradition at its best, and as mores change over time, so does our understanding of Scripture and God’s will. That is why Dr. Shereshevsky asks “What is the practical, real meaning today?”, concluding that it cannot possibly mean dispossessing an entire people and holding onto the land by force and repression. As the CoS report explains, ideas that may have been perfectly acceptable in the heyday of European colonialism are repugnant to us today.

        Shereshevsky also points out that those who cite the “divine promise” as justification for such behaviour are either “fascist unbelievers, or believers and God fearers with fascist opinions”. The opinions themselves are fascist and, as such, worthy of condemnation — whether those who profess them are “true believers” or merely instrumentalise Scripture.

        • W.Jones
          May 11, 2013, 3:22 pm

          Yes, Dr. Shereshevsky questions rhetorically how it is possible to put into practice the idea of thousands of years ago about the land belonging to Israel:

          What is the practical, real meaning today of the words, “To your descendants I have given this land,”, when Arabs have lived for generations on a great part of this territory. Who and what will symbolize this “greater Israel”? The soldier who is armed “from the sole of his foot to the top of his head,”?

          What Shereshevsky questions is whether this ancient idea is practical today.

          But actually I think this is philosophically different than the Kairos USA “Liberation Theology” Document and the Church of Scotland report. Those reports give a different philosophical basis. They say that the ancient promise to one group has been opened up to all nations, and that everyone who is adopted into Abraham, including Christians, count him as their forefather. The Kairos USA Document would actually disagree that the ancient promise is impractical or hard to put into a modern humanitarian context.

          Rather, the ancient promise is successfully fulfilled (like a dream or prediction is “fulfilled”) with the promise opening up to all nations, as it says that Abraham would become the father of many nations. In accepting the Israelite scriptures and their faith, multitudes of nations have taken on Abraham as their forefather.

          Restricting the promises made to Abraham to only one secular “nation” could not reflect doctrinally-correct “believers with fascist opinions”, but would only reflect “unbelief” in Christianity as explained by St. Paul in Galatians, where he calls Christians Abraham’s descendants.

        • Shmuel
          May 11, 2013, 3:58 pm

          W. Jones,

          I think you are taking Shereshevsky too literally. The promise is not “practical” because it conflicts with other, fundamental religious values – as understood in the context of modern ethics. Without minimising the theological differences between Judaism and Christianity, the precise interpretation of the biblical passages in question is less important than the principle that religious values must conform to the best values of the age. In other words, concepts of justice and morality come first, and theologians will express those values in the idiom of their respective religious traditions. I think this is evident, for example, in many of the questions posed on p. 4 of the CoS report.

        • W.Jones
          May 11, 2013, 7:45 pm

          Shmuel,

          I think you are describing Shereshevsky’s view when you say: The promise is not “practical” because it conflicts with other, fundamental religious values – as understood in the context of modern ethics.

          Within the Kairos Document, however, the promise to Abraham’s children is practical- and it is put into effect when people share the land because the promise has been opened up to all nations.

          Secondly, I don’t think Christianity would agree with the “principle that religious values must conform to the best values of the age.”
          Jesus and the prophets both complained about the lack of good morality among people in their generations. He did not want to conform the morality of repentance and forgiveness to a morality that demanded punishment. At a time when a common value was that their ancestry made them good people, Jesus said God could even make stones to be “children of Abraham.” In saying this, Jesus gave another clue to the topic under discussion.

          While the “best value of the age” might have been to demand a nation-State for each people, Jesus would not conform his religious principle to that- instead, he focused on building a spiritual kingdom that would bring in all nations rather than an earthly kingdom for one nation.

          I sympathize with your conclusion “concepts of justice and morality come first, and theologians will express those values in the idiom of their respective religious traditions.” People must be guided by their conscience. However, perhaps this is not a one way street? For example, the concept of forgiveness was in Christianity, a person could read this religious tradition, and then become persuaded by it? In other words, the concept of morality could be within the tradition, and thus not come before the tradition?

        • Shmuel
          May 12, 2013, 4:06 am

          W.Jones,

          “The best values of the age” is not a compromise but a challenge. Even assuming divine origin of Scripture (or the divinity of Christ), the messages can never transcend human comprehension, which necessarily evolves (through moral challenge).

          The idea of the universality of the “promise” certainly exists within Christian tradition (as the idea of universal justice exists within Jewish tradition), but this would have been interpreted in one way in the time of Jesus, another in the age of colonialism, and yet another today. This idea is clearly recognised in the CoS document:

          From early in the 19th century, some influential Christians encouraged these ideas. The mores of the colonial and imperial age pervaded all aspects of life, including the Church of Scotland. It may well have been a Kirk minister, the Rev Alexander Keith, who coined the phrase “a land without people, for a people without land.” This view of the land of Palestine was linked from the 1840s to a literalistic view of Hebrew Bible prophecy being fulfilled and the widely held attitude that European colonialism meant that a land was ‘empty’ if western power and culture was not present. This attitude, repugnant to our thinking today, was widely accepted. It was taken up by the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury’s evangelical circle with dreams of restoring the Jewish people to the Holy Land. This in turn led to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, when the British Government agreed to a policy of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.

        • W.Jones
          May 12, 2013, 4:32 pm

          Shmuel:

          You write:

          The idea of the universality of the “promise” certainly exists within Christian tradition (as the idea of universal justice exists within Jewish tradition), but this would have been interpreted in one way in the time of Jesus, another in the age of colonialism, and yet another today.

          I understand that people can look at things differently at different time periods, but I think the idea of the extension of the promise is simple enough it could easily be understood the same way through the time periods. Granted, in different circumstances, people could act differently or draw different conclusions based on that same idea.

          You gave as an example the idea that “European colonialism meant that a land was ‘empty’ if western power and culture was not present… It was taken up by the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury’s evangelical circle with dreams of restoring the Jewish people to the Holy Land.”
          This is separate from the idea of the universality of the promise. Either (A) those thinkers were already off on the modern CZ protestant track, or else (B) they saw the promise as universal, but that Palestinians did not qualify as their own “people”.

          As to (A), you did not quote a full discussion by Rev. Keith, but it is possible his view did not see this particular promise as universal. It’s possible that he thought of the land promise to Abraham in limited ethnic terms, and that this was part of his motivation. After all, he was writing in the time period when the CZ ideology was developing in protestant circles.

          As to (B), it was a common idea that they were part of the Arab people, a common nonscientific Zionist misconception. For example, I am still surprised that the anti-Zionist Leon Trotsky called the Palestinians Arabs and talked about the Arabs as a scattered people, and proposed one ideal solution of Socialist “planned migration” for them back to what he saw as their supposed “homeland”.

          So he could have accepted both universality and also thought (B). Thus he would use other pretences to propose the people’s return- namely their historic return to the land, rather than as fulfilling an exclusivist ethnic prophecy.

        • W.Jones
          May 12, 2013, 4:38 pm

          On a sidenote, even if one accepted the colonialist premise you describe, different practical conclusions could have been drawn from it:

          European colonialism meant that a land was ‘empty’ if western power and culture was not present. This attitude, repugnant to our thinking today, was widely accepted.

          The Crusaders certainly had a western-centric and colonialist perspective. Yet their response to this premise was to set up western religious communities that are still in the Holy Land today, and were even under Islamic rule.

          Besides that, Turkey was something of a western power, as the Western Allies surprisingly and strangely fought Christian Russia to defend the Ottoman Empire from Russia liberating its slavic territories, which it had occupied for centuries.

          Thus, even within their colonial thinking they need not have seen the land as empty, since western power remained there in two senses, and even a lack of western power could have been answered differently.

    • Hostage
      May 11, 2013, 10:28 pm

      As a Jew, I too reject “claims that scripture offers any peoples a privileged claim for possession of a particular territory”, and am offended by the suggestion that such a statement in any way “perpetuates anti-Semitism” or “negates and belittles … deeply held Jewish” beliefs of any kind.

      Me too. I think it’s an example of affected or sanctimonious holiness to ignore the historical religious schism and suggest that rabbinical Judaism doesn’t constantly belittle fundamental Christian beliefs too. Nothing in this report smacks of bigotry or supercessionism, since no divine claims to territory anywhere are asserted or defended.

      I downloaded the report after reading Marc Ellis’ comment that:

      “Everything is filtered through Jesus Christ. Christian triumphalism, even when it is supposedly limited to Christians, drives me up the proverbial wall.”

      I didn’t find it quite that bad. I think that the selected messages of the prophets, like Micah, are supplied as proofs that stand on their own. They are understandably supplemented by passages from the Christian scriptures to establish that there is no sectarian disagreement with these intersecting points of ancient Jewish belief. But Jews engage in the sort of same practice when they explicate a portion of the Tanack using Talmudic source materials which other believers do not necessarily accept as authoritative.

      • W.Jones
        May 11, 2013, 11:33 pm

        Hostage,

        You write:

        “Nothing in this report smacks of… supercessionism, since no divine claims to territory anywhere are asserted or defended.”

        There are a wide range of definitions of the recent western academic term “supersessionism”- and they are more often than not conflicting.

        The kind of thinking in the report is “supersessionist” by the definition that a new situation exists where the promises to Abraham have been extended to the multitudes, who have taken him on as their spiritual forefather. So yes, the inheritance of Abraham is a divine claim by his descendants, the multitudes, to all the earth’s territory. And it is an egalitarian, caring, inclusive one that is the opposite of bigotry and does not involve anyone’s political domination.

        However, the report is not “supersessionist” by the definition promises to Abraham’s descendants no longer have any meaning in any sense. In fact, Christianity cannot really teach that invented construct of “supersessionism”, since the continuation of those blessings is what is required for the nations to enjoy them.

        You made an interesting point that the Christian commentary on the prophets’ quotes were actually used to support what the prophets were saying on the topic.

        • Hostage
          May 12, 2013, 7:22 am

          The kind of thinking in the report is “supersessionist” by the definition that a new situation exists where the promises to Abraham have been extended to the multitudes

          That isn’t anything new. The Torah said that all the nations would be blessed through Abraham or his descendants in the first place.

          The Hebrew and Christian scriptures have taught (in common) that there would be an in-gathering of faithful foreigners from all of the nations, e.g. *My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples;
          * May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant;
          * And that will be what you allot as a heritage, for yourselves and for the strangers who dwell in your midst, who will beget sons in your midst, and they will be to you as citizens among the children of Israel; with you they will inherit of the inheritance in the midst of the tribes of Israel.
          *After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.

          You made an interesting point that the Christian commentary on the prophets’ quotes were actually used to support what the prophets were saying on the topic.

          Naturally, because the listeners and authors were second commonwealth era Jews. They would have been discussing and anticipating the possible fulfillment of the exact same prophecies as their rabbinical brethren and all of this would have taken place before the great schism between them occurred. I pointed out that the Jews claim the same sort of corporate-level divine inspiration for Judaism using almost the same proof texts to obtain a different result.

          Here is a discussion of the operation of the Holy Spirit from the Jewish Encyclopedia that most Christian fundamentalists and Pentecostals would gladly accept:

          He pours out His own spirit upon all whom He has chosen to execute His will and behests, and this spirit imbues them with higher reason and powers, making them capable of heroic speech and action (Gen. xli. 38; Ex. xxxi. 3; Num. xxiv. 2; Judges iii. 10; II Sam. xxiii. 2).

          This special spirit of God rests upon man (Isa. xi. 2, xlii. 1); it surrounds him like a garment (Judges vi. 34; II Chron. xxiv. 20); it falls upon him and holds him like a hand (Ezek. xi. 5, xxxvii. 1). It may also be taken away from the chosen one and transferred to some one else (Num. xi. 17). It may enter into man and speak with his voice (II Sam. xxiii. 2; Ezek. ii. 2; comp. Jer. x. 14). The prophet sees and hears by means of the spirit (Num. xxiv. 2; I Sam. x. 6; II Sam. xxiii. 2; Isa. xlii. 1; Zech. vii. 12). The Messianic passage in Joel ii. 28-29, to which special significance was subsequently attached, is characteristic of the view regarding the nature of the spirit: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my Spirit.”

          All of that source material was collected together and translated into Greek by Jews around the late second century BCE. They already indicated that some Jews were teaching even then, that the promises to Abraham and the bestowal of the Holy Spirit were intended to be universal in scope. The idea that they weren’t was a more modern innovation.

          In a similar fashion the Book of Romans implies that God can show mercy to whomever he desires and that the natural branches can be grafted back in more easily than the unnatural ones. The message in Chapter 11 says that “all of Israel will be saved for the sake of the promises made to the Fathers.” The notion of a Rapture or the complete destruction of Israel in the battle of Armageddon are modern innovations or reinterpretations of the ancient texts..

        • W.Jones
          May 12, 2013, 1:38 pm

          Hostage,

          As you pointed out, the idea of the extension of the promises is not a new or foreign concept:

          “The kind of thinking in the report is ‘supersessionist’ by the definition that a new situation exists where the promises to Abraham have been extended to the multitudes.” ~ Jones

          That isn’t anything new. The Torah said that all the nations would be blessed through Abraham or his descendants in the first place.

          However, this predicted extension is still one of the definitions of “Supersessionism”, since the new inclusive situation “supersedes” the previous, exclusive situation.

          Thus Wikipedia says that Supersessionism views “the Christian Church as the inheritor of the promises made with the children of Israel.” This definition brings to mind the title of the Church of Scotland’s report “The Inheritance of Abraham.” This concept does not exclude the physical Israelites either from those promises, because many of them stayed in the Church, and as you pointed out, the apostle Paul predicted the “return” of the rest of them.

          You also made an interesting point about how the CZ ideology actually goes against St Paul, when it focuses on its apocalyptic prediction of the destruction of alot of the latter group.

        • Hostage
          May 13, 2013, 2:58 am

          However, this predicted extension is still one of the definitions of “Supersessionism”, since the new inclusive situation “supersedes” the previous, exclusive situation.

          I’m agnostic. I don’t view it that way. “Israel” and “Jew” were behavior-based definitions.

          If an individual violated a social taboo, they were “cutoff” from the people of Israel. So the Jews used social boundaries based on their interpretation of the tradition or literature to exclude other Jews and treat them like Gentiles.

          The so-called New Testament is largely a Jewish sectarian commentary on the more ancient Hebrew literature. Like the minor prophets and the Dead Sea scrolls it contains jeremiads that railed against the Jewish establishment of the day. When we talk about “the Church” or “the Congregation of the Lord” there is really only one corporate entity that the prophets had in mind, not the plethora of streams and denominations we have today. The various sectarian streams, including the Christians, have spent centuries trying to exclude “the other” from the promises. The process they employed has involved redactions of the respective canons, and the adoption of a number of extra-biblical doctrines and dogmas.

          I’ve always been interested in comparative studies of religions from a cultural and historical perspective in order to understand how our societies got to the point we all find ourselves in today. But I don’t expect to find any ultimate or overarching truth from either side in the ages-old debate between Judaism and Christianity.

        • W.Jones
          May 13, 2013, 3:48 am

          I’m agnostic. I don’t view it that way. “Israel” and “Jew” were behavior-based definitions.

          If an individual violated a social taboo, they were “cutoff” from the people of Israel. So the Jews used social boundaries based on their interpretation of the tradition or literature to exclude other Jews and treat them like Gentiles.

          Whether it is Supersessionist appears to depend on what definition of that term you use- and there are a wide range of quite different ones. Along with your explanation, in Christian thinking, a new situation arose where the social boundaries changed to include many nations in the “inheritance”, and that situation “superseded” the earlier one. Yet others use “Supersessionism” in a very different way, which can make things confusing.

          I agree with alot of what you said here, except that naturally Christians would see their beliefs as coming from the Bible.

          You write: “The various sectarian streams, including the Christians, have spent centuries trying to exclude ‘the other’ from the promises.
          I think it depends on the stream and the nature of the exclusion. As you wisely pointed out, the oxymoronic CZs invented a very exclusionary idea of an apocalyptic destruction of alot of people where the traditional Christian idea really expects a general return and re-inclusion.

          Peace.

  7. Nevada Ned
    May 11, 2013, 7:25 am

    If the Church of Scotland doesn’t feel comfortable calling for a boycott now, here’s what they could do: investigate and publicize the plight of Palestinian Christians, both within Israel and on the West Bank. These Christians are facing systematic racial discrimination by Israel. Many of them were victims of the Nakba in 1948, yet their story has not reached a mass audience.

    • Hostage
      May 11, 2013, 9:41 pm

      If the Church of Scotland doesn’t feel comfortable calling for a boycott now, here’s what they could do: investigate and publicize the plight of Palestinian Christians, both within Israel and on the West Bank.

      The only mention of a call for a boycott was a reference to South African Church leaders. The report seemed to be aimed at publicizing the plight of Palestinians and stimulating further internal discussions on Deliverances aimed at altering the status quo. The notion that none of us have a divine right to territory anywhere takes quite a bit of wind out of the Zionists’ sails, since Israel’s right to exist (as presently constituted) must be grounded in mundane bases subject to the usual terms and conditions of international legitimacy. I hope the new report makes that perfectly clear.

      • W.Jones
        May 11, 2013, 10:41 pm

        Hostage,

        none of us have a divine right to territory anywhere

        In Christian thinking, now we have a divine right to territory everywhere on earth, but only in accordance with other people’s own rights to the same territory and when we live in righteousness. As it says: All the earth will praise the Lord!

        The right is inclusive, not exclusive, and vests in righteousness.

        Peace.

  8. FreddyV
    May 11, 2013, 7:37 am

    Here’s a Press TV article about this interviewing Dr Stephen Sizer:

  9. HarryLaw
    May 11, 2013, 7:50 am

    The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is a multinational state. If Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland decided to leave this state then the UK of GB and NI would cease to exist, the exercise of self determination by the people of those territories done legally through referenda is the correct constitutional procedure and which properly rejects a “states right to exist”.

    • Hostage
      May 11, 2013, 11:18 pm

      the exercise of self determination by the people of those territories done legally through referenda is the correct constitutional procedure and which properly rejects a “states right to exist”.

      The declarative theory of statehood, which was codified in the public international law of the American States, stood for the proposition that even before recognition, a State has the inherent right to defend its existence, territorial integrity, independence, and to provide for its conservation and prosperity. Those rights are based upon nothing more than the mere fact of its existence. See for example the Montevideo Convention and the Charter of the Organization of American States.

      There is no evidence that those ideas have ever gained universal acceptance in state practice. Opinio juris still provides a great deal of support for the constitutive doctrine of statehood. It holds that entities obtain the rights associated with statehood exclusively through recognition and acceptance by other existing States.

      When the International Law Commission was working on the Draft UN Declaration on the Rights and Duties of States in 1949, they discussed the Montevideo Convention at length. But they nonetheless chose to omit the proposed articles which affirmed the right of States to exist.

      The written submissions from interested state parties in the ICJ Kosovo case indicate that no clear consensus has ever been reached on the question. Existing states remain divided over the right of secession, which inherently entails the question of the right of a parent state to defend its existence.

  10. atime forpeace
    May 11, 2013, 9:04 am

    This move getting the Church to step away from the correct biblical position re:Israel really aggravates me…i can now only hope for the day when these hyper zionist jews get their comeuppance.

    Phil Giraldi says…

    link to original.antiwar.com

    President Obama recognizes the power represented by Jewish groups acting as a cohesive and focused political entity when he meets with them collectively in the White House, so why the reluctance in recognizing and confronting their persistent pro-war, pro-intervention agenda? At a March 7th session, shortly before his trip to Israel, Obama met with Alan Solow, Lee Rosenberg and Michael Kassen of AIPAC; Barry Curtiss-Lusher of the Anti-Defamation League; David Harris of the American Jewish Committee; Jerry Silverman of Jewish Federations of North America; Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz; former Congressman Robert Wexler; Dan Mariaschin of B’nai B’rith; Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; Jeremy Ben-Ami, executive director of J Street; and Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Admittedly the linking of Jewish organizations’ easy access to policymakers with their possible role in launching a string of failed wars in Asia and still more in the offing on behalf of Israel makes many people uncomfortable because it invites the dual loyalty critique and even more extreme commentary that is ultimately racist in nature, but there you have it. The president knows who is pulling his strings and so should the rest of us.

    Americans can either confront the ugly realities of what has been going on for the past twelve years or they can pretend that what they are seeing is not really there. The gatekeepers are understandably concerned lest Washington’s next war be blamed on American Jews..

  11. Ira Glunts
    May 11, 2013, 9:20 am

    According to the Scottish paper, The Herald, church officials say:

    A planned debate of the paper at the General Assembly on May 18 will go ahead, but “no party will be making any further statement on this issue” until that date.

    link to heraldscotland.com

  12. MHughes976
    May 11, 2013, 9:33 am

    There can’t be a moral duty for everyone to maintain all political borders even if the existing ones are a source of great trouble, though there must be a duty to avoid unjust means in altering them. There is also a duty, how could there not be, to promote by any legitimate means (these may be restricted by the principle, if we acknowledge it, of non-intervention) the reconstitution of a tyrannous or oppressive state. Thus there is no right for an oppressive state to maintain its oppressive form. If a change bringing justice instead of oppression would mean a change of name or of borders that change would still be justified, since justice is of greater moral importance than names and borders.
    Sorry to see the CofS crumble – interesting to see if there is any comeback at the main meeting beginning on the 18th. Things are even crumblier in the CofE. I have a relevant meeting in a few weeks and will let you know how I get on.

    • W.Jones
      May 11, 2013, 11:28 am

      I have a relevant meeting in a few weeks and will let you know how I get on.
      Thank you. May the Force Be With You!

  13. MK_Ultra
    May 11, 2013, 10:07 am

    5/7/13

    Oberlin College Student Senate endorses divestment resolution

    link to jta.org

    (JTA) — The Oberlin College Student Senate endorsed a resolution that calls for the college to divest from six companies that do business in the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and Gaza.

    Following a three-hour discussion, the resolution was approved “by majority” on Monday, the Oberlin College Students for a Free Palestine said in a news release.
    The six companies are Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, Group 4 Securicor, SodaStream, Elbit Systems and Veolia.

    Similar resolutions have been passed this school year at the University of California campuses in Irvine, Berkeley and San Diego.

    The Students for a Free Palestine group at Oberlin said it would bring the resolution to the Oberlin College Board of Trustees’ Finance Committee, which sets the college’s financial policies.

    “My concern about BDS is that it furthers the polarization between students who might consider themselves pro-Israel and students who might consider themselves pro-Palestinian,” Oberlin sophomore Noa Fleischacker, co-chair of J Street U’s Oberlin chapter, told the Oberlin Review student newspaper before the vote.

    “What we really need to be doing is creating conversation and dialogue between those students, and also on the ground of creating negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis.”

  14. W.Jones
    May 11, 2013, 1:06 pm

    Phil and Annie,

    The Inheritance of Abraham Report is to a big extent an endorsement of the Kairos Palestine Document, since it repeats and focuses on Kairos Palestine throughout the report.

    Kairos Palestine basically takes the idea of the Kairos Document from the South African Desegregation movement and applies it to the conflict in the Holy Land. It focuses alot on pluralism and universality, and recalls the Liberation Theology movement that promoted social justice in Latin America.

    At the same time, the report uses standard Christian thinking about universality regarding people’s national rights, so it does not represent some theological “break” that traditionalists might naturally oppose, in the way that they might react to the term Liberation “Theology”. Thus it is a progressive document with well-founded, standard theology.

    • W.Jones
      May 11, 2013, 1:35 pm

      One thing I mean was that a weakness with Liberation Theology was that it was a movement in the Catholic Church and yet it sometimes described itself as a separate “Theology”. For progressive Protestants this might sounds like a cool theological “breakthrough”, but for Catholics, in whose thinking it is important to continue the traditions, the idea of creating a “theology” or a new “theological movement” sounds dangerous. (In fact one of the problems with the RC Church from the perspective of other groups was new doctrines that the RC establishment adopted in medieval times). This resulted in some pushback or perhaps disagreement from among the Roman Catholic leadership, although such pushback could have come from certain quarters of the entrenched religious establishment in Latin American countries, no matter how the Liberation movement was framed.

      In any case, I think one of the advantages of the Church of Scotland’s Document and the Kairos Palestine Document- is that it bases itself on standard Christian theology, while also taking a strong progressive position politically on an issue.

      Regards.

    • MHughes976
      May 11, 2013, 3:48 pm

      Well it’s good that the Kairos P document is making a bit of an impact somewhere even if it so cravenly disowned so quickly. The Church of England has ignored it heroically.

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