Commissioner Virginia Sheets clearly thought she was invoking the "prophetic voice" that Presbyterians like speaking about when divining policy. "Jesus did not mind telling the Jews when they were wrong," she preached during a devotional moment. As the vice-moderator of Committee 4 she recommended approval of a group of anti-Israel resolutions by the delegates of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Detroit last week. Indeed, the 221st General Assembly of PCUSA will most be remembered as the one when its extremist anti-Israel lobby succeeded in getting the church to stick it to the Jews.
Here is our list of winners and losers.
Israel-hating Boycotters. They have reason to rejoice – for effect, if not for substance. The vote for divestment, narrow as it was, aligned the church with those who wish to eliminate the Jewish State through the global BDS anti-peace boycott campaign. No surprise then that former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke posted a congratulatory message to PCUSA on his website.
Their greatest victory came however with the overwhelming approval of Resolution 04-01. It calls for the church to reevaluate its support for a two-state solution ("solution" in scare-quotes), suddenly deemed unworkable. It commissions a study by a notoriously anti-Israel committee, ACSWP, to consult with notoriously anti-Israel entities (the UN Human Rights Council – with Iran and Syria announced candidates to join, and the World Council of Churches, which hates Israel more than sin), while relying on notoriously flawed and hostile works like Breaking Down the Walls and its follow-up by the Middle East Monitoring Group. The resolution even orders that the study find specific predetermined "facts," e.g., that "for every two-year period occurring between GA meetings, Palestinians are suffering an increasing loss of their human rights, freedom, livelihoods, property, and even their lives."
Just think, two years from now PCUSA could be demanding that 8 million citizens of democratic Israel must remove any trappings of a Jewish State, enroute to being swallowed up by Muslim demographics.
Israel-hating boycotters. The boycotters' victory, however, is mostly an exercise in pious self-delusion. Boycott architect, Rifat Kassis, a non-Presbyterian who was allowed on to Committee 4, in arguing against a two-state solution some years ago, depicted Israel's economy as being on the verge of collapse. Their boycotts (which have never helped a single Palestinian) are failures.
Despite their campaigns, Israel's economy is booming: the GDP is up, along with foreign reserves. Inflation is down, along with the percentage of the GDP devoted to defense and deficit relative to GDP. Israelis are opening new markets in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia, just in case European elites decide to cut their noses despite their pocketbooks. Witness the report in The Financial Times that the Dutch pension fund that was the first to drop holdings in five Israeli banks, as part of a protest against Israeli occupation of disputed territory, now regrets the decision. Meanwhile, Norway, not one of Israel's friends, operates the largest government-owned pension fund in the world. In 2013, it increased its holdings of both Tel Aviv stocks and Israeli bonds by over 40% - $1B in each category. PCUSA boycotters may be gloating, but Israel and her investors are laughing all the way to the bank – literally.
Justice and Fairness. The leadership of PCUSA engineered a process as fair and just as a Syrian presidential election. They threw out Rev. Al Butzer, praised for his even-handedness and competence, as moderator of the Middle East committee because he visited Israel in conjunction with Jewish groups – after two trips organized from a Palestinian perspective. During deliberations, members of three committees hostile to Israel were given large slots of time to unleash incredible lies about Israel – without fear of being challenged. Members of Presbyterians For Middle East Peace, recognized by the church as the group representing a different narrative, were denied the opportunity to respond. No, check that. They were given 90 seconds. Dan Alexander, Teaching Elder, Presbytery of New Covenant, decried during plenary that very little from the Jewish side was presented to the commissioners.
PCUSA. With membership continuing to decline, with a median age of 63, with large churches walking out of the increasingly morally obtuse denomination, a once-proud church is shrinking to the point of irrelevance.
Anti-Semitism. PCUSA's new moderator, Heath Rada could only squirm when he was grilled on CNN as to how PCUSA could claim that it did not embrace Zionism Unsettled (a document that resurrected the discredited UN resolution "Zionism is Racism" credo, now cloaked in theological language) when it openly sold this contemporary masterpiece of Jew-hatred. This too earned online accolades from über-racist, David Duke, who credited himself with originating the phrase "Jewish supremacism," which the document embraced.
Jewish Organizations. Now that they have nothing to show for a decade of walking on eggshells and taking abuse from a church that lied to them religiously every two years, Jewish groups will not double down on interfaith dialogue. Rather, they will have the freedom to ignore PCUSA, grouping them with others groups hostile to Jews, such as Quakers and Mennonites. Jewish organizations will invest their efforts in building alliances with those who respect Jews and want to work together to safeguard endangered religious minorities—Christian, Jewish Baha'i, Hindu and Muslim – around the globe. They will ignore PCUSA's embrace of self-loathing Jews who came to the GA to advocate for divestment. They speak for no one but themselves. They and PCUSA deserve each other.
THE BIGGEST LOSER
Hopes for Peace. When an entire denomination allows itself to be hijacked by extremists, the only real winners are the most violent elements of Palestinian society who are convinced that with friends like PCUSA they will never have to negotiate with their hated Jewish neighbors. And if they can convince naïve true believers to soon endorse a one-state solution – heck, one day soon, Hamas and their ilk can have it all – Gaza, the West Bank, Tel Aviv, enroute to Madrid, London and Washington.