Thursday, November 17, 2011

Presbytery Vote - Part Two

Historian Normal Finkelstein writes:

European Jews for a Just Peace issued a statement headlined, “German Jews Say NO to Israeli Army Killings.” In Canada eight Jewish women occupying the Israeli consulate called on “all Jews to speak out against this “massacre,” and celebrated Canadian pianist Anton Kuerti declared, “The unbelievable war crimes that Israel is committing in Gaza … make me ashamed to be a Jew.” In Australia two award winning novelists and a former federal cabinet minister signed a statement by Jews condemning Israel’s “grossly disproportionate assault.”[1]

In Georgia, the Presbytery voted to raise no objection to Israel’s abuse of Palestinians. About the same time that the Presbytery was voting to say “nothing,” NEWSWEEK Magazine quoted Ruth Dayan, the widow of Israeli military “hero” Moshe Dayan, criticizing Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians:[2]

What’s going on today is awful. They’re ruining this country. .. I am a peacemaker, but the current Israeli government does not know how to make peace. We move from war to war, and this will never stop. I think Zionism has run its course.

Today, we use foreign labor to work in Israel because Palestinians are not allowed. And this continuous expansion of the settlements everywhere – I cannot accept it. I cannot tolerate this deterioration in the territories and the road blocks everywhere. And that horrible wall! It’s not right.

For Netanyahu, peace is just a word, and that (current Foreign Minister Avigdor) Leiberman … he is the most terrible man in this country. … I reject Netanyahu’s policy; it is a recipe for disaster…. The number of settlements has increased from 60 to 200, the military checkpoints are everywhere, and freedom of movement is virtually non existent. Violence is still the only spoken word.

Avindav Begin, grandson of former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, who refuses to stand during the Israeli national anthem and participates in protests against the apartheid wall, speaks with even harsher words: “Murderous blood flows in Israeli arteries.”[3]

While a 2003 poll of the European Union named Israel the biggest threat to world peace, a 2008 survey of global opinion named Israel the biggest obstacle to achieving peace in the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the late Tony Judt asserted that “Israel today is bad news for the Jews.” Philip Slater, author of the classic sociological study The Pursuit of Loneliness declared, “The Gaza strip is little more than a large Israeli concentration camp, in which Palestinians are attacked at will, starved of food, fuel, energy – even deprived of hospital supplies." American Jews for a Just Peace, circulated a partition calling on “Israeli soldiers to Stop War Crimes” [4]

Students of Cornell University, the University of Rochester, University of Massachusetts, New York University, Columbia University, Haverford University, Bryn Mawr College and Hampton College among others have demonstrated to “divest from American corporations that directly profit from the occupation.” When historians, journalists, artists, numerous human rights organizations and even students are speaking out, where is the voice of the church?

Our Presbytery had nothing to say, 37 to 65.

Thomas Are
November 17, 2011

[1] Norman G, Finkelstein, This Time We Went Too Far, (OR Books, New York, 2011) p 120
[2] Newsweek, November 7, 2011. p. 58-63.
[3] Interview with Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot, February 13, 2010,
[4] Finkelstein, p. 111 - 124

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