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Opinion: Columnists

Anti-semitism and the shame of the PCUSA

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Opinion,Hugh Hewitt,Columnists,Israel,Religion,Boycotts

Prominently featured at the website of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is an "An Open Letter of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to our American Jewish Interfaith Partners" which is signed by the denomination's three senior officials and which begins:

We are reaching out to you after our General Assembly’s action, by a 310-303 vote, to recommend to the Presbyterian Foundation and the Board of Pensions to divest from three North American corporations following extensive corporate engagement. The assembly concluded that further engagement would not bring an end to their pursuits that further the Israeli occupation in Palestine.

Read the whole thing at pcusa.org. It is gibberish, nonsense of the worst sort: deeply disingenuous double talk intended to skim over the biased proceedings which produced it. Now the PCUSA, as its members call it, has taken an official position against Israel and so I, as an elder in the PCUSA -- no longer a "ruling" elder in my congregation, having wrapped up my second such stint last year -- have to take a position for or against the PCUSA based on it.

Many PCUSA congregations across the country are already engaged in the process of "discerning" whether to remain within the splintering denomination, and this new assault on Israel and the virulent language employed — "occupation" — will no doubt make that process much easier for hundreds of thousands of us. If their congregations don't leave, they will. They will not be part of the American intifada against Israel.

The PCUSA has raised its hand against Israel. So now either my congregation must depart the PCUSA or I must depart my congregation. I will not be a part, however small, in any campaign against Israel. No Christian who knows how the Church largely stood silent during the Holocaust should be. No thinking person who reads beyond the fringes of the Left would reason as this letter does. If a denomination insists on being ruled by a majority of ill-educated posers, it deserves the withering that has already set in and will now accelerate.

Strong language that, and I have never used it in any of the theological debates to date. Jesus was angry only with the Pharisees and the money-changers.

In this "open letter," the most tortured, pharisaical logic is employed to leverage money against the Jewish homeland. The "divestment" urged does not advance peace in the region. It does not thwart terror. It is silent on the fact that at the very moment of its sending an American teenager and two other Israeli teens have been kidnapped by terrorists operating in the territories the PCUSA blithely refers to as "occupied."

I posted a link to the "open letter" on Twitter and asked for reactions.

From Robert Kraychik: "I think I'll just keep siding with God's Chosen People over the people chosen by a bunch of whiny leftists."

Sherri Wells noted that "someone needs to tell the PCUSA it's the Palestinians that don't want a two state solution."

"Give the PCUSA a break," Gary Jacobsen urged. "SOMEBODY had to get the speck out of Israel's eye."

Noah Pollak picked up on the Ark-sized duplicity of the letter. "After sucker-punching Israel," Noah noted, "they ask US Jewish community to 'remain open' to them as if nothing happened."

"An antisemitic move like boycotting Israel does not make them a partner," tweeted Jeff Dunetz. "This Jew prayed on Shabbos they stop being morons."

"But it's a nuanced antisemitism ..." added Eric Hardie.

Indeed, that is the bottom line. Like Franklin D. Roosevelt's State Department throughout World War II, like propagandists of the Left in more modern times, the PCUSA's deliberations ignored the attempts to destroy Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973. It ignores the language of the Hamas charter, and the fact that Hamas has now been welcomed into the Palestinian Authority's government. Mostly it ignores the endless terror attacks, and the war crime of indiscriminate use of rockets against civilians, the language of genocide routinely employed by the mullahs in Tehran whose Hezbollah puppets occupy south Lebanon.

It seems likely that most of the PCUSA's General Assembly voters are wholly ignorant of most of this, being anti-intellectual as well as anti-Israel.

This is not a theological dispute. As a guy who goes to Mass on Saturday afternoon and to the PCUSA on Sunday morning, I am not easily riled over theological disputes.

But an assault on a state for the Jews, on their historic land and state reconstituted after the Holocaust, and one launched by a bunch of poorly-educated, intentionally provocative praise-seekers? That doesn't take great theological training to see as a transparent attempt to curry favor with opinion elites that sneer at the very idea of religious belief based on Scripture.

The PCUSA made its choice. Now its ever-declining membership will make their decision on the circles they wish to travel in.

Herman Wouk's great character of his Winds of War and War and Remembrance epics, Aaron Jastrow, said he could smell anti-Semitism in the room when George Santayana was in it. I wasn't at the PCUSA's General Assembly, but I suspect Professor Jastrow would have caught the same whiff -- had his fictional being survived the Holocaust.

Hugh Hewitt is a nationally syndicated talk radio host, law professor at Chapman University's Fowler School of Law, and author, most recently of The Happiest Life. He posts daily at HughHewitt.com and is on Twitter @hughhewitt.
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