STATEMENT ON ISRAEL AND THE PCUSA

STATEMENT ON ISRAEL AND THE PCUSA

 

I have been asked by CUFI to reflect briefly on the impact of my trip to Israel in January of this year, particularly in light of my role as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

 

The visit to Israel did not change or modify my thoughts about the country.  From my childhood I was taught that the formation of the modern State of Israel was a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.  In my youth, Moshe Dayan and Golda Meir were my heroes.  The books of Yigael Yadin, the Israeli archaeologist were avidly read, and I rejoiced when the Jews, against all odds, triumphed in the Six Day War and liberated Jerusalem.  I can still see in my mind’s eye the pictures of Jewish soldiers rushing to worship at the Western Wall.

In 1983, I was given the gift of a trip to Israel, and when I stepped off the plane, I felt as if I had come home.  My visit in 2016 did not fundamentally alter my views.  What it did accomplish echoes what the Apostle Paul told Timothy in last letter to him:  “Fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you.”  My existing love for Israel and its people was fanned into flame, becoming a more passionate, insistent and prominent concern.  The motto of CUFI sums it up:  “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent.”

 

How does all this relate to my position as a minister of the PCUSA?  It is a sad fact that our denomination has adopted an increasingly antagonistic stance towards Israel. The recent approval of divestment from companies supportive of Israel will be followed by a further report calling for boycotts and more divestment. In the West, pop culture allows for only one narrative regarding the Middle East:  Israel is the enemy, and the Palestinians are helpless victims.  The current policy of most of the Arab States is “Death to Israel”, and is matched by a growing anti-Semitism in both Church and State in America.