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Interfaith bullying, and a feckless letter from the Episcopal bishop

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Bullying is not limited to schoolyards.  It happens in political fights as well.  It’s particularly shocking when it occurs between faith groups, but seems to be the norm whenever Israel is discussed in an open room.  The bullies are doing their best to make sure that discussion never happens. 

Recently a conference held by the organization, Friends of Sabeel North America, was the subject of “interfaith bullying.”  Jewish community agencies and several local rabbis tried to shut down the conference by spreading rumors about Sabeel’s anti-Semitism (read Sabeel Program Director Don Wagner’s excellent Huffington Post piece entitled “Stop the Bullying Now.”)  The conference went on, of course, but on its heels arrived another instance of attempted bullying, which is the subject of this column.  

This latest case of bullying was the stunningly aggressive response of major Jewish organizations to the ground-breaking letter of fifteen church leaders calling for an investigation of U.S. aid to Israel. Lining up to express their outrage were the Anti-Defamation League, the Rabbinical Assembly and the American Jewish Committee. Accompanying the outrage was the threat to abandon “interfaith” dialogue with the churches.

I am personally pleased that we are seeing the end of this kind of dialogue, which has been no dialogue at all but what I would call “soft bullying,” a conversation in which those who claim to represent the Jewish community have set the rules that Christians have obediently followed. In Jewish liberation theologian Marc Ellis’ terms, it was a deal designed to relieve Christians of their guilt over anti-Semitism by making any meaningful criticism of Israel or challenge to Zionism out of bounds. “Ecumenical deal crumbles,” announced Adam Horowitz, calling on American Jews to move away from the old rules and to instead confront the hard issues raised by Israel’s actions. One group of rabbis has already done so. Christians should follow blogger M.J. Rosenberg’s advice to not be intimidated but to go forth to speak the truth. And, following Jesus, pray for these persecutors—and for the day when meaningful conversation can resume. 

Five days later a second letter appeared. In it, Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of America wrote to President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney, calling for “the full engagement of the United States and its president in the resolution of the conflict.” This letter must be seen as the Bishop’s response to hard questioning from her own ranks about her conspicuous absence from the list of signatories to the Oct. 5 letter. In tone and thrust it differs dramatically from the earlier letter. Reaffirming the Episcopal Church’s commitment to a “two-state solution” that creates a “viable” Palestinian state, the letter ignores the policies that have destroyed the possibility of such a state. In deploring “unacceptable levels of violence on all sides,” the letter rides roughshod over the reality of an overwhelming power imbalance between an occupying military superpower and an unarmed subject population. Most important, Bishop Schori calls for “resumption of negotiations” while ignoring the conditions that have rendered them fruitless and will continue to serve only as political charade while the annexation and ethnic cleansing continue. In the words of today’s letter to the Bishop from the Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network, “restarting bilateral negotiations may create the illusion of progress but will simply condemn the Palestinians to continued loss of their land and resources.” 

These two letters tell a story, and it is the story of a church struggle. I learned this term from the South Africans. It’s how they characterize the struggle between those churches that stepped out in the 1980s to stand against Apartheid, and those who held back, stuck in the mud of reform, pacification and accommodation with the oppressive regime. The struggle we are witnessing here is the same struggle. It is not a struggle between those who believe that Greater Israel with Jerusalem “unified” (i.e., Judaized and Arabrein as Israel’s capital is the will of God) or that the Jewish people have a moral or historical right to displace the Palestinians, and those who work to liberate Palestinians—and their Israeli occupiers—from tyranny and Apartheid. No, this struggle is between the prophets and the moderates, those who understand that following the justice imperative is the key to peace and those who, although declaring their commitment to justice seek above all not to rock the boat—or, to use a better image, not to step out of the boat.

 The fifteen faith leaders have summoned up their faith and have stepped out of the boat. Yes, their letter serves up the obligatory “balanced” language condemning violence on “both sides,” but, that out of the way, it gets right to the point—that the U.S. policy of unconditional financial and diplomatic support for Israel lies at the heart of the problem and is the barrier to peace, “sustaining the conflict and undermining the long-term security interests of both Israelis and Palestinians.” The divestment and boycott initiatives undertaken by the denominations that have drawn so much attention are not mentioned in the letter, but they are there in the background, and, together with strong statements like this one, will eventually bring about the required change. It is the church that will lead, as it did in the anti-Apartheid struggle and the Civil Rights movement in the U.S. 

In contrast, the Bishop’s letter serves as a moderate “alternative” to the bold advocacy of the Oct. 5 letter. We have seen this before. We saw it in the “Call to Unity” of the eight white pastors and one rabbi to whom Martin Luther King Jr. addressed his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” To their urging that “negotiation is the better path,” he answered, “Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.” We saw it when the mounting resistance to the status quo of racist minority rule in South Africa was met by “reform” efforts by a Pretoria government seeking to preserve Apartheid through black bantustan “homelands” and a two-tiered system of justice and legislative representation for black South Africans who were not equal citizens at all but a captive underclass. And the authors of the 1985 South Africa Kairos document responded, “no:” a tyrannous system cannot reform itself. As the church, they maintained, we must resist. 

The authors of the Oct. 5 letter likewise say “no” to the continued policy of “humanitarian” and economic aid to an occupied Palestine and continued “dialogue” between the parties while a program of annexation and human rights violations surges ahead with the massive financial support of our government. It says “no” to pleas for “reconciliation” where, in the words of the Kairos South Africa document, “‘reconciliation’ has been made into an absolute principle … There are conflicts where one side is a fully-armed and violent oppressor while the other side is defenseless and oppressed. To speak of reconciling these two is not only a mistaken application of the Christian idea of reconciliation; it is a total betrayal of all that Christian faith has ever meant.” 

The Kairos USA document speaks to this church struggle. It says “no” to “a system of control, inequality and oppression [we have supported] through misreading of our Holy Scriptures, flawed theology and distortions of history … theological and political ideas that have made us complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people. Instead of speaking and acting boldly, we have chosen to offer careful statements designed to avoid controversy and leave cherished relationships undisturbed.” 

Bishop Jefferts Schori’s letter effectively says “yes” to that very system of control, inequality and oppression. In stark contrast, the Oct. 5 letter of the fifteen church leaders provides welcome evidence of the Church’s awakening to the “fierce urgency of now” spoken of by Martin Luther King Jr. It is a resounding “no” to the bankruptcy, futility and heresy of the old, familiar path of making peace with oppression—a peace, as the prophets and Jesus cry out, that is no peace. “Division” is the word chosen by Jesus to describe the process that brings about the peace he proclaims for the world. A real peace, the peace emerging from embracing the kairos, comes only with the clarity of knowing what is right and what is wrong, willingly taking up that cross and carrying it proudly amid the name calling, the charges of treachery and treason, and the pleas to be silent, the pleas to stay in the boat. 

As I write this today, more salvos against the leaders’ letter charging anti-Semitism and betrayal of Christian-Jewish friendship are being released. We know that responsible advocacy for human rights for Palestinians and a sane, compassionate U.S. policy have nothing to do with anti-Jewish feeling. But make no mistake—we are seeing only the beginning of the battle that will be waged to silence this church movement. Church leaders will need to learn to withstand the charges and the foot-stamping— and must be prepared for the tougher measures that are certain to be taken as this movement gains momentum and adherents across the ecumenical spectrum. But the real struggle faced by the church is not with the organized Jewish community. The real struggle will be waged within the church itself. Martin Luther King Jr. pointed this out to his fellow clergy almost 50 years ago, and the words ring out with startling clarity: 

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 20th century.

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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21 Responses

  1. American on October 19, 2012, 11:55 am

    “comes only with the clarity of knowing what is right and what is wrong, willingly taking up that cross and carrying it proudly amid the name calling, the charges of treachery and treason, and the pleas to be silent, the pleas to stay in the boat. ”

    That’s the choice. Stand up against wrong or be a coward.

  2. jdfsau on October 19, 2012, 12:33 pm

    The Episcopal Church lost all moral authority years ago. It has simply been bought and paid for.

    A few years ago the late Ed Miller MD, a strong supporter of Palestinian rights told me a curious story.

    Ed had managed to get Episcopal bishop Swing of California to sign a relatively mild petition supporting Palestinian rights. Then the bishop called Ed to tell him that he would have to withdraw his name from the petition. When Ed asked why he was told by Swing that “he (swing) wouldn’t get the funds necessary to repair the roof on San Francisco’s large and very impressive Grace Cathedral. Apparently these funds were coming from Jewish sources.

    There are Jewish philanthropies like the Koret Foundation that use their funding of Prtoestant and Catholic groups specifically to silence these groups as regard Israel. These christian groups to this day don’t realize that there of specific strings attached to any funds they receive from these Jewish charities.

    Years ago, probably the biggest single benefactor of the University of San Francisco (USF) , a Jesuit school, was the very wealthy hotel owner Ben Swig, an ardent supporter of both Israel and the Anti-Defamation League. He eventually became head of the school’s board of trustees. Professors were specifically told by school administrators told not to anger Swig by ever negatively mentioning Israel. By the time Swig died virtually all pro Palestinian voices at USF had been purged (if they didn’t have tenure) or silenced.

    This sort of control didn’t end with Swig’s death. It continues through funding received from Jewish charities like the Koret Foundation and Bernard Osher Foundation that is given to church connected schools all over the USA.

    The only professor that seems to be allowed to voice criticism of Israel at USF is Stephen Zunes, who is Jewish and therefore apparently kosher.

    • Rusty Pipes on October 19, 2012, 3:08 pm

      I do not know where you got the impression that Zunes is Jewish; he comes from a family of Episcopalians. He has had tenure at USF for many years. Although he criticizes Israel and Zionist policies, like Chomsky, he frames Israel’s actions as serving US imperial interests.

    • on October 20, 2012, 3:52 am

      > “unacceptable levels of violence on all sides”

      What? Mike Tyson pounding the bemoses out of Woody Allen is equal, a “fair” fight?

      Were the Wehrmacht and Warsaw Ghetto Jews also equally guilty?

      Is a fight between a heavyweight and bantamweight “equal”?

      Must the world step aside until unequal parties agree to “peace”?

      That’s nuts.

      Let’s be frank. Too many American Jews have acted like “Good Germans.” They endlessly harrumph that the “world” didn’t do enough to stop the Holocaust while they themselves act like German abettors as Palestinians get reamed, the latter atoning for antisemitic crimes they never committed.

      We get lectured all the time that the Holocaust only happened because too many good folks remained silent. Especially in Germany. But at least Germans had the excuse that the state ran media, limiting what they knew. There was no Internet or cellphones then…or camcorders. If folks spoke up, they and their families could be killed (White Rose Society, anyone?). So what excuse do modern American Jews have?

      They don’t know a lopsided “war” is going on, Palestinian Davids facing American-armed Israeli Goliaths?

      Wake up! The reason the Holocaust happened was enough people then acted like American Jews do now. Liberal American Jews know that relatively weaponless Gazans face a well-armed first-world superior force…and do nothing.

      The Holocaust happened for the same reason savage attacks on Palestinians happen: too many “good” people look the other way (while, I’m sure, attending weekly religious services).

      Wanna play comparative games? OK. Let’s say in the big scheme of things the Holocaust was a fart in the wind compared to, say, the Flood. Let’s say all the harm endured by Jews at German hands in the 1930s-40s don’t’ mean shite compared to what G-d did to Noah.



      Content to let the Arabs be erased now because they can’t possibly suffer as much as the Chosen did back-in-the-day?

      OK. But do tell us again why the Tribe “wandered the desert.” Any history of their effing up, not doing right things, dissing Yaweh…and subsequently having the million pound shit-hammer descend?

      How do many members of Jewish groups in America sleep at night? Do they not “get” why so many 1930s-40s Germans also slept soundly?

      I just can’t believe that Jews, who marched on Washington to ensure blacks got equal rights, do little or nothing today when Israel butchers “desert n*ggers” in their name.

      • Stephen Shenfield on October 20, 2012, 9:16 am

        You say that ordinary Germans had “excuses” for not denouncing the Holocaust, but then revert to blaming them for passively standing by. This seems unfair to me because those “excuses” were really strong.

        First, although rumors did circulate most Germans did not have any clear idea of what was going on. In 1945 the occupation authorities forced local German residents to walk through the death camps and (from reports I have read) their usual reaction to what they saw was shock and distress. That suggests to me that they did not already know. Those who did not live in the vicinity of the camps (which were mostly in Poland and not Germany itself) were surely even less likely to know.

        Second, those Germans who did know and dared to talk, especially in public, really were likely to be killed. One memoirist tells how in an air raid shelter in Berlin near the end of the war a young soldier starts to tell the other people in the shelter about atrocities he has witnessed in Ukraine. As soon as the author realizes what he intends to talk about, she tries to protect him by telling him to shut up. But it is already too late: there is a Gestapo agent in the shelter and the young man is arrested, taken out and shot.

        So the contrast between the situation of ordinary Germans who kept silent then and that of Jews who keep silent now is really very sharp indeed.

  3. pabelmont on October 19, 2012, 1:01 pm

    Do we have an email or other contact information for the Episcopal Bishop? Or the equivalent?

    And thanks for a wonderful essay!

  4. annie on October 19, 2012, 1:03 pm


    this struggle is between the prophets and the moderates, those who understand that following the justice imperative is the key to peace

    reminds me of Martin’s letter from the birmingham jail.

    I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate

  5. Betsy on October 19, 2012, 3:04 pm

    Way to go, Mark Braverman!! Excellent piece!

    Hopefully, the rank & file of this church movement can connect directly w/ rank & file folks in synagogues & temples — w/o the intermediation of these bullying organizations which don’t seem to be accurately representing their rank & file (at least in my experience of actual interfaith projects & conversations) & seem to have been deeply corrupted by their relationships to nation-states power (in ways that seem very similar to Far Right Christian groups of 1980s & 90s). This kind of bullying reminds me of Moral Majority, Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council. Fortunately, the Reformed Protestant churches (after getting pummelled by Christian Far Right for years) have strengthened their judo moves against such. Prophetic Christianity is a real obstacle to both groups — so there will be concerted effort to sideline, distort, malign once ‘mainline’ views.

  6. Erasmus on October 19, 2012, 3:33 pm

    EXACTLY, Annie, the very same bell rang with me reminding me of Martin Luther,Jr. letter from Birmingham Jail, 16 April 1963.
    Below i want to quote a few selected parts from this letter, which indeed has many parallels (mutatis mutandis) of Christian opportunists then in the course of the Civil rights movements and now the Palestinian struggle for independence, dignity and an end of Israel’s occupation – a last.

    From the Birmingham jail, where he was imprisoned as a participant in nonviolent demonstrations against segregation, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote in longhand the letter which follows. It was his response to a public statement of concern and caution wrt direct, non-violent action issued by eight white fellow clergymen from Alabama , namely
    – Bishop C. C. J. Carpenter,
    – Bishop Joseph A. Durick,
    – Rabbi Hilton L. Grafman,
    – Bishop Paul Hardin,
    – Bishop Holan B. Harmon,
    – Reverend George M. Murray,
    – Reverend Edward V. Ramage and the Reverend Earl Stallings

    I MUST make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate.
    I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councillor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice;
    – who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice;
    – who constantly says, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action”;
    – who paternalistically feels that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom;
    – who lives by the myth of time; and
    – who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.”
    Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
    In your statement you asserted that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But can this assertion be logically made?
    Isn’t this like condemning the robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical delvings precipitated the misguided popular mind to make him drink the hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because His unique God-consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to His will precipitated the evil act of crucifixion?….
    I received a letter this morning from a white brother in Texas which said, “All Christians know that the colored people will receive equal rights eventually, but is it possible that you are in too great of a religious hurry? It has taken Christianity almost 2000 years to accomplish what it has. The teachings of Christ take time to come to earth.”
    All that is said here grows out of a tragic misconception of time. It is the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually, time is neutral. It can be used either destructively or constructively. I am coming to feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than the people of good will. We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the vitriolic words and actions of the bad people but for the appalling silence of the good people.
    We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation.
    Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever.……
    If I have said anything in this letter that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.
    I hope this letter finds you strong in the faith. I also hope that circumstances will soon make it possible for me to meet each of you, not as an integrationist or a civil rights leader but as a fellow clergyman and a Christian brother. Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.
    Yours for the cause of Peace and Brotherhood,
    Martin Luther King, Jr.

  7. Betsy on October 19, 2012, 3:37 pm


    IPMN responds to attack
    on Stated Clerk of PC(USA) Rev. Gradye Parsons
    by PFMEP

    Press Release
    For Immediate Release

    October 19, 2012

    The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Responds to Attack on Rev. Gradye Parsons by Presbyterians for Middle East Peace

    The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) wishes to express its deep concern and dismay over a recent press release issued by Presbyterians for Middle East Peace (PFMEP) attacking the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Rev. Gradye Parsons, for his signing of an interdenominational letter to Congress calling for an end to unconditional military aid to Israel. The letter, which was signed by 15 interdenominational Christian leaders, called for the United States to withdraw military aid to Israel until such time as Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights cease, and it begins to behave in accordance with U.S. and international law.

    Regrettably, the authors of the PFMEP attack against Rev. Parsons appear to be either ignorant of the facts, or willfully misleading with them. In claiming that Rev. Parsons doesn’t represent the view of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), PFMEP fail to acknowledge that the church’s 219th General Assembly in Minneapolis in 2010 called for the withdrawal of military support to Israel. This occurred in two separate actions: In the GA’s approval of the recommendations of the Middle East Study Committee and its report, Breaking Down the Walls, and the passing of an overture from the Presbytery of Chicago, both of which called for an end to military aid to Israel.

    The PFMEP statement refers to an overture approved by the 218th General Assembly (2008) that called upon Presbyterians not to over-identify with one side or the other in the conflict. However, the same General Assembly endorsed the Amman Call from our Christian partners in the Middle East, which called for action regarding the occupation of Palestine, declaring “No more words without deeds. It is time for action.”

    PFMEP claims that “much of the general public has little understanding of Presbyterian polity,” and that the Stated Clerk “has no authority to create church policy or to make judgments on behalf of the denomination regarding American foreign policy, nor authority to personally investigate and make judgments upon practices of conduct of any country.” Ironically, PFMEP appears to have little understanding of that polity themselves. In fact, the General Assembly gave the Stated Clerk authority to sign the letter in question through the actions described above taken at the 219th GA in 2010.

    In virtually all of their public statements, Presbyterians for Middle East Peace ignore the injustices inflicted on the Palestinian people on a daily basis by the matrix of Israel’s 45-year-old military occupation, and the relentless construction of Jewish-only settlements on their land, all of which is made possible by U.S. economic support paid for by American taxpayers. If PFMEP truly care about the well being of the peoples of the Holy Land and wish to live up to their Christian ideals, they should focus on ending their own complicity in Israeli abuses of Palestinian human rights and violations of international law, and not on attacking church leaders who have taken a stand for freedom and justice.

    Press Contact:
    Rev. Katherine Cunningham, IPMN Moderator
    [email protected]

    Please share this message widely.

  8. piotr on October 19, 2012, 4:56 pm

    I do not see that “Episcopal Church lost its moral authority”. Full reading of the letter of Most Rev. Shori suggests to me a decent, humane position, although not as radical as many here would wish to see. However, an elected church leader has to operate within bounds of consensus of his denomination, stretching it in the “angelic” direction.

    To me, the postulated goals are clearly in 2SS framework, but within that framework it signals position close to PA, which is also fully acknowledged, and past official positions of US government (however insincere) and in sharp opposition to Israeli government (not acknowledged, but Israeli governenment is quite vehement against “shared capital in Jerusalem”. The letter states support of PA bid for UN recognition, which is a logical consequence of 2SS position, but not shared by the governments of Israel and USA.

    The letter strongly implies that inaction of our leaders, our government is responsible for the lamentable absence of the peace process, and urges that leaders of Democrats and Republicans should address that question — which they manifestly do not.

    The letter contains few specific, but those that it does contain are very good in my opinion. There is glaring absence of any mention of repressions and obstructions by Israeli government, so it is not a letter that I would write, but I represent a congregation of one.

    I would have two part assessment of the letter:

    a. would the views present in the letter become common wisdom in our media, Congress etc. it would be a big progress,

    b. I do not know the history of efforts within Episcopal community on this issue, so I do not know if omissions of the letter represent a step in the good direction, if timid, or an effort to prevent progress by an illusion of action.

  9. piotr on October 19, 2012, 7:51 pm

    I was really confused.

    Presbiterian: roots in Scotland

    Episcopalian: Anglican roots (there are also “Anglicans” who are conservative)

    It seems that the Clerk of Presbiterians followed the resolutions of the General Assembly of that church. Does it mean that Most Reverend Shori followed the resolutions of a similar assembly of her church? That would mean that church politics becomes somewhat important in USA. I guess so it was in 1850s.

  10. DICKERSON3870 on October 19, 2012, 9:37 pm

    RE: “The Kairos USA document speaks to this church struggle. It says ‘no’ to ‘a system of control, inequality and oppression [we have supported] through misreading of our Holy Scriptures, flawed theology and distortions of history* … theological and political ideas that have made us complicit in the oppression of the Palestinian people’. . .” ~ Braverman

    *A LITTLE BACKGROUND: “Grace Halsell: De-bunker of Christian Zionist Doctrine”, by Stuart Littlewood, Palestine Chronicle, 8/11/12

    [EXCERPTS] Not long ago I quoted American journalist Grace Halsell in an article about the damaging influence of the Scofield Bible, not realising how sorely she was made to suffer for setting out the truth.
    That article, ‘The Zionist cuckoos in Christianity’s nest’, showed how Cyrus Scofield corrupted the Biblical message and produced a propaganda classic that has been working its evil for 100 years.

    Scofield, a convicted criminal and described by one American newspaper as “a shyster”, was commissioned to re-write the King James Bible by inserting Zionist-friendly notes. The idea was to change the Christian view of Zionism by creating and promoting a pro-Zionist sub-culture within Christianity. The Oxford University Press appointed Scofield as editor, and the Scofield Reference Bible was born.
    It introduced a new worship icon, the modern State of Israel, which did not exist until 1948 but was already being ‘prepped’ on the drawing board of the World Zionist movement.
    It appealed to the impressionable and was seized on by religious chancers who have used inappropriate methods to establish a large and dangerously un-Christian fringe to the Christianity movement. They call themselves Christian Zionists.
    Here is how Grace Halsell explained the re-hashed Biblical message: “Simply stated it is this: Every act taken by Israel is orchestrated by God, and should be condoned, supported, and even praised by the rest of us. Never mind what Israel does, say the Christian Zionists. God wants this to happen…
    “Scofield said that Christ cannot return to earth until certain events occur: The Jews must return to Palestine, gain control of Jerusalem and rebuild a temple, and then we all must engage in the final, great battle called Armageddon. Estimates vary, but most students of Armageddon theology agree that as a result of these relatively recent interpretations of Biblical scripture, 10 to 40 million Americans believe Palestine is God’s chosen land for the Jews.”
    The problem, she said, was the belief system of Christian Zionists. “They believe that what Israel wants is what God wants. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to give the green light to whatever it is Israel wants and then conceal this from the American people. Anything, including lies, theft, even murder, is justified as long as Israel wants it.”
    Those pseudo-Christians, who would have us all believe that God is some kind of racist real estate agent, thereafter made her life a misery. . .


    • DICKERSON3870 on October 19, 2012, 10:07 pm

      P.S. ALSO SEE: “Bachmann: America ‘cursed’ by God ‘if we reject Israel’”, By Andy Birkey, The Minnesota Independent, 02/08/10

      [EXCERPTS] At a Republican Jewish Coalition event in Los Angeles last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann offered a candid view of her positions on Israel: Support for Israel is handed down by God and if the United States pulls back its support, America will cease to exist.
      The Republican Jewish Coalition is the same organization that recently hired former Sen. Norm Coleman. . .
      . . . Here’s a transcript of some of her remarks at the RJC event:

      I am convinced in my heart and in my mind that if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States . . . [W]e have to show that we are inextricably entwined, that as a nation we have been blessed because of our relationship with Israel, and if we reject Israel, then there is a curse that comes into play. And my husband and I are both Christians, and we believe very strongly the verse from Genesis [Genesis 12:3], we believe very strongly that nations also receive blessings as they bless Israel. It is a strong and beautiful principle.
      Right now in my own private Bible time, I am working through Isaiah . . . and there is continually a coming back to what God gave to Israel initially, which was the Torah and the Ten Commandments, and I have a wonderful quote from John Adams that if you will indulge me [while I find it] . . . [from his February 16, 1809 letter to François Adriaan van der Kemp]:
      “I will insist that the Hebrews have done more to civilize men than any other nation. If I were an atheist, and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations. If I were an atheist of the other sect, who believe or pretend to believe that all is ordered by chance, I should believe that chance had ordered the Jews to preserve and propagate to all mankind the doctrine of a supreme, intelligent, wise, almighty sovereign of the universe, which I believe to be the great essential principle of all morality, and consequently of all

      . . . So that is a very long way to answer your question, but I believe that an explicit statement from us about our support for Israel as tied to American security, we would do well to do that.

      SOURCE –

      P.P.S. ALSO SEE:
      “God’s Hand” – Rep. on Israel Policy [VIDEO, 04:04]
      Cenk Uygur breaks down comments regarding foreign aid and Israel by Republican Congressman Daniel Webster.
      LINK –

      Congressman Daniel Webster “Must Fund Israel” Or Lose “God’s Hand”! [VIDEO, 02:12]
      Theologian Paul Begley of Indiana explains that Florida Congressman Daniel Webster “Must support Israel” or lose the “Hand Of God” upon America! This is the one Congressman who is not afraid to stand for God’s Chosen People!!
      LINK –

  11. DICKERSON3870 on October 19, 2012, 9:53 pm

    RE: “Bishop Jefferts Schori’s letter effectively says ‘yes’ to that very system of control, inequality and oppression. In stark contrast, the Oct. 5 letter of the fifteen church leaders . . . is a resounding ‘no’ to the bankruptcy, futility and heresy of the old, familiar path of making peace with oppression* . . .” ~ Braverman

    * FROM WIKIPEDIA [Constructive engagement]:

    [EXCERPT] Constructive engagement was the name given to the policy of the Reagan Administration towards the apartheid regime in South Africa in the early 1980s. It was promoted as an alternative to the economic sanctions and divestment from South Africa demanded by the UN General Assembly and the international anti-apartheid movement.[1]
    The Reagan Administration vetoed legislation from the United States Congress and blocked attempts by the United Nations to impose sanctions and to isolate South Africa.[2] Instead, advocates of constructive engagement sought to use incentives as a means of encouraging South Africa gradually to move away from apartheid.[3] The policy, echoed by the British government of Margaret Thatcher, came under criticism as South African government repression of the black population and anti-apartheid activism intensified. . .

    SOURCE –

    * FROM “South Africa: Why Constructive Engagement Failed”, By Sanford J. Ungar and Peter Vale, Winter 1985/86

    Article Summary
    Ronald Reagan’s imposition of limited economic sanctions against the South African regime in September was a tacit admission that his policy of “constructive engagement”–encouraging change in the apartheid system through a quiet dialogue with that country’s white minority leaders–had failed. Having been offered many carrots by the United States over a period of four-and-a-half years as incentives to institute meaningful reforms, the South African authorities had simply made a carrot stew and eaten it. Under the combined pressures of the seemingly cataclysmic events in South Africa since September 1984 and the dramatic surge of anti-apartheid protest and political activism in the United States, the Reagan Administration was finally embarrassed into brandishing some small sticks as an element of American policy.
    [We’re sorry, but Foreign Affairs does not have the copyright to display this article online.]

    SOURCE –

  12. joecatron on October 19, 2012, 10:18 pm

    Make that three letters. Here’s a response to Schori’s from the Episcopal Church’s Palestine Israel Network (of which, by way of full disclosure, I’m a very inactive member). It isn’t worded as strongly as I might prefer, but then, what ever is?

    An Open Letter to the Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori
    From the Palestine Israel Network of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship

    Dear Bishop Katharine:

    We write as fellow Episcopalians who share your deep interest in “a just and peaceful resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict” as stated in your letter to the two major political candidates for President of the United States on October 12. Our membership includes many seasoned people who have traveled extensively to Israel and Palestine, some of whom have lived in the region for a number of years. We are comprised of lay and ordained members, including bishops. We hope our letter today will further the interests of not only dialogue, but advocacy on behalf of the just peace that we both deeply desire for Palestinians and Israeli Jews.

    We particularly appreciate your pointing out a number of the complexities that make progress towards justice challenging, including a potential “nuclear Iran; continued Israeli settlement building, particularly in and around Jerusalem, at a pace and pattern that complicates the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state; unacceptable levels of violence on all sides; and the humanitarian disaster of the Gaza Strip.” You also correctly point out that even though “only direct bilateral negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians themselves can bring about a just and lasting peace, history is clear that American political leadership has the power to play a catalytic role in supporting the work of peacemakers.”

    This latter point, with which we share agreement, leads us to ask why you have not yet signed the letter from our ecumenical partners to Congress calling for an accounting of U.S. aid to Israel. The General Convention just completed in Indianapolis voted (A-015) to reaffirm Resolution 1991-A149, which “require(s) the State of Israel to account to the Government of the United States for all aid to Israel…in compliance with the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.” It also calls for “hold(ing) in escrow aid to Israel by an amount equal to any expenditures by the Government of Israel to expand, develop or further establish Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, and only release the aid from escrow if proof is given that settlements are not being established.” Given the explicit nature of our Church’s policy we are perplexed that you have not yet signed onto the letter to Congress. We could not have a clearer policy base for you to join in this important initiative. We hope to see your name added in the coming days.

    We would also like to point out that your letter to the presidential candidates fails to describe accurately the current state of affairs in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. One might imply from your letter that there are two equal parties to the conflict. In fact, your letter does not once mention the word “occupation.” (Nor did the General Convention 2012 resolution B019). We wonder if your failure to mention the occupation is deliberate or just an oversight. No one who is uninformed would understand from your letter that the state of Israel has been oppressing the Palestinians living in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza since 1967. We cite the B’Tselem report, “No Minor Matter” as evidence of Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children as just one of many forms of human rights abuses committed by Israeli entities. B’Tselem is a respected Israeli organization. Our own State Department has also noted significant human rights abuses by Israel in its annual human rights report. We also commend the latest issue of Cornerstone, a publication of Sabeel, which writes about children being held under Israeli military detention. 500-700 children are prosecuted in Israeli military courts each year. The description of detention of these young people is heartbreaking. We commend the full issue to your attention.

    We would add that unless American political leadership is willing to hold Israel accountable for acts – past and present – that undermine movement toward a just peace, restarting bilateral negotiations may create the illusion of progress but will simply condemn the Palestinians to continued loss of their land and resources. “Supporting the work of peacemakers” must include addressing the immense imbalance in power that has characterized negotiations during both the Bush and the Obama administrations and drains these and possible future talks of any hope for successful resolution. Negotiations must be matched by actions on the ground that support, not undermine, the talks themselves. Again, we appreciate your noting this concern.

    Because of so many documented human rights violations by the state of Israel, the letter to Congress could not be more appropriate. The current impasse in negotiations makes inevitable a third intifada, the nature of which we can only speculate about. The letter to Congress sends an important signal to all the parties that U.S. Christians stand for human rights across the board, without exception, and is an important advocacy effort that could help forestall another intifada. Palestinians on the ground need to see that others understand their daily suffering and are speaking out. Otherwise, the voices of extremism will drive events.

    We appreciate your reminder to the candidates that “a two-state solution is the shared policy of the United States government, the government of Israel, and the Palestinian National Authority.” But as you no doubt already know, many expert analysts, including American and Israeli Jews, are making the case that the policy of Israeli appropriation of Palestinian land and its unrelenting expansion of illegal settlements, has or soon will make a two-state solution impossible. Many of our members believe the two-state solution has already been foreclosed. Your letter correctly acknowledges that settlement building “complicates the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state.” The irony is that Israel through its settlement policy is forcing a one state bi-national solution as the only alternative, which many Jews see as the end of Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people. The only other option would be for Israel to force Palestinians into a non-viable, non- contiguous state that will be judged by the world as another apartheid system, which will lead to an inevitable movement for a bi-national state. We believe our Church should review its policy of support for a two-state solution in light of Israel’s continuing expansionist policies that seriously draw into question its commitment to this goal. Ultimately, as you have noted, Israeli Jews and Palestinians must resolve this issue.

    There is much else left unsaid here that we hope we might pursue in future dialogue with you. Again, we are grateful to see you engage this most pressing of all international conflicts, and we seek to find a common witness from our Church on behalf of justice for oppressed Palestinians and liberation from the role of oppressor by Israel so that our common vision of peace and security can be realized for all Israeli Jews and Palestinians.
    Faithfully and with gratitude,

    Steering Committee, Palestine Israel Network/Episcopal Peace Fellowship:
    Ann Coburn, Cotton Fite, Brian Grieves, Donna Hicks, Edward LaMonte, Grace Saïd, Newland Smith, Cabell Tennis, Jessie Vedanti

    Linda Gaither, Chair, National Executive Council, Episcopal Peace Fellowship
    Allison Liles, Interim Executive Director, Episcopal Peace Fellowship

    • Rusty Pipes on October 20, 2012, 6:03 pm

      Thanks for the link, Joe. In addition, if Bishop Schori were to pay a pastoral call to an Anglican convert who resides in the hostel of St. George Cathedral, she might learn more about the longstanding dangers of a nuclear middle east which date back to Israel’s acquisition of nuclear weapon building capacities in the 60’s. Of course, if she doesn’t have time to visit Jerusalem, Mordechai Vanunu’s confirmation of Israel’s nuclear arsenal has been publicly available since the 80’s. Israel’s documented nuclear arsenal is a much greater threat to the stability of the region than “a potential nuclear Iran.”

  13. seafoid on October 20, 2012, 4:28 am

    In the end they will only be able to bully pockets of the US.

    Look at the state of play in South Africa….

    In South Africa, tempers flare over labeling of West Bank, Gaza products

    Director of South African Jewish Board of Deputies denounces trade minister’s decision to label imports from Gaza, West Bank and East Jerusalem as stemming from ‘occupied territories.’

    By Jeremy Gordin | Oct.18, 2012 | 7:37 AM | 2

    JOHANNESBURG – Wendy Kahn, the usually urbane and non-confrontational national director of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, has angrily and publicly denounced the behavior of Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies regarding the spat over the labeling of imports from Israel’s “occupied territories.”

    On October 12, in Government Gazette 35796, Davies officially announced his intention to issue a notice that, “in terms of section 24 of the Act, [prescribes] information requiring an importer, producer, retailer or supplier in the Republic of South Africa, to label goods that originate from the Israeli Occupied Territory (hereinafter referred to as ‘IOT’), namely: East Jerusalem, Gaza and West Bank, as goods originating from IOT.

    “Goods originating from IOT must not be labeled as goods originating from Israel.3. The label ‘Made in Israel’ may only be applied to goods that originate from within Israel’s borders of 1948 – 1967 before they were unilaterally changed by Israel in 1967 ‘Six Day War’.”

    Davies went ahead with the notice even though a court action against his plans – an action claiming that Davies’ decision is technically flawed and therefore legally invalid – is going through the “court process” at the moment. It was brought before the North Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) in July by the South African Zionist Federation.

    But what is particularly incensing Kahn is that she appeared before the T&I Parliamentary Portfolio Committee just under a month ago.

    There, according to Kahn, “following the presentation of oral submissions from the SAJBD, the SAZF, and Open Shuhada Street, it was decided that the three parties would put in writing their ‘minimum requirements’ regarding the legislation and that a consultative process would then identify acceptable solutions going forward.”

    Kahn continued: “We were assured by the minister’s representative at the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee meeting, Macdonald Netshitenzhe, that ‘there will not be a final notice without talking to the public’.”

    In addition, said Kahn, the SAJBD and the other parties agreed with the chairman of the committee, Joan Fubbs, that October 15would be the deadline on which the “minimum requirement” documents would be forwarded by the three parties.

    “But the minister,” said Kahn, “didn’t even have the grace to honor that agreement. Instead he issued the “Final Notice on Labeling of Goods Originating from the Israeli Occupied Territories” on the 12th of October.”

    Kahn said it was obvious that the SAJBD’s written submissions had been ignored and that he had now disregarded the agreement made at the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee to delay the final notice without proper public participation.

    “It is such a pity,’ said Kahn, “that the Minister did not hear the comments of the members of the Portfolio Committee who stressed the need for consultation and stakeholder involvement in arriving at compromise solutions. If the minister had been present he would have understood that the SAJBD and SAZF are not opposed to the use of labeling, but object to the technically incorrect use of the term ‘occupation’.”

    Kahn said it was “disastrous’ that the minister had not only sidelined the Jewish community but also undermined a parliamentary process that could have resulted in a positive outcome.

    “The latest circumvention of the consultation process is just another example of Davies’ obsession with forcing through flawed legislation so as to placate a narrow focus anti-Israel activist group. It’s appalling,” said Kahn.

    Davies was unavailable for comment. He is currently overseas trying to deal with the fallout of the recent downgrading of South Africa’s investment outlook by two major international credit ratings agencies.

  14. Betsy on October 20, 2012, 3:53 pm

    New York Times just put up an article “Church appeal on Israel angers Jewish groups”

    • Rusty Pipes on October 20, 2012, 7:03 pm

      It looks like there will be seven empty seats at the appointed meeting time on Monday:

      The Jewish leaders responded to the action as a momentous betrayal and announced their withdrawal from a regularly scheduled Jewish-Christian dialogue meeting planned for Monday. In a statement, the Jewish leaders called the letter by the Christian groups “a step too far” and an indication of “the vicious anti-Zionism that has gone virtually unchecked in several of these denominations.”

      “Something is deeply broken, badly broken,” said Ethan Felson, vice president and general counsel of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, an umbrella group that helped to convene the meeting. “We’re certainly not getting anywhere now.”

      The Jewish groups have called for the Christian churches to send their top officials to a “summit” meeting to discuss the situation, an invitation the Christian leaders say they are considering.

      No doubt these Church leaders have had this interfaith meeting on their calendars and their flights and rooms booked for months. I hope that they not only keep their date to meet together, but find some other interfaith partners who might be available at the last minute to discuss relevant national and international concerns. Maybe the Church leaders can all find a mutually agreeable date to meet again sometime after Easter.

  15. lohdennis on October 23, 2012, 5:52 pm

    One of the best articles written at Mondoweiss blog!!!

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