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The Christian Firewall Against 21st Century Anti-Semitism

The Christian Firewall Against 21st Century Anti-Semitism

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The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Friday, June 20th, became the most prominent religious group in the United States to endorse divestment as a protest against Israeli policies toward Palestinians, voting for a resolution to sell church stock in three companies, the products from which Israel uses in the occupied territories. In a statement on its Facebook page, the Israeli Embassy in Washington denounced the resolution as "shameful." "Voting for symbolic measures marginalizes and removes its [The PCUSA Church?] ability to be a constructive partner to promote peace in the Middle East," the statement said. In an Op-Ed in the Huffington Post, Sam Bahour, an American-born businessman living in Palestine, wrote, "Palestinians did not invent the non-violent tool of divestment. After unsuccessfully trying to secure their rights using a multitude of other means, Palestinians have focused their efforts on non-violent methods of resisting military occupation that have been used throughout history by others: boycott, divestment, sanction, international law, civil disobedience, diplomatic efforts, economic resistance, and the like. Supporting these tools is supporting non-violence; the alternative is to push Palestinians into using violent means of resistance. If nonviolence is deemed unacceptable then violence becomes that much more likely." However, we feel that the actions of the Presbyterian Church in general, and Mr. Bahour in particular, can best be described as misguided, reprehensible and insensitive to the fact that violence against Israel is part and parcel of the underlying problem that deters a meaningful peace agreement between Palestine and Israel. How can Israel in good faith continue in what seems to be a unilateral attempt to forge a two-state peace solution between themselves and the Palestinian Authority (PA), when the PA operates in partnership with Hamas, a certifiable terrorist organization bent on the destruction of Israel, and everything for which Israel stands? Both Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asserted just last week that Hamas stands behind the recent kidnapping of three teenagers in Israel. In point of fact, Hamas and other Palestinian-linked terrorist organizations have kept up a regimen of violence, including the firing of rockets into Israel on a regular basis. How can Israel make peace with a people that cannot, and will not, agree that the State of Israel has a right to even exist? Correspondingly, a fresh wave of anti-Semitism currently saturates college and university campuses in addition to many public arenas and various government agencies around the world. In that regard, the firewall against anti-Semitism in the 21st century is none other than the Body of Christ, the Church of Jesus Christ. More than ever, the Church needs to understand that these are troubled times, and rise up in righteousness and justice. The fact that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has joined the movement known as BDS — or Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions — against Israel shows that this movement has gained some momentum in the United States, Israel's closest and most important ally. However, in the strongest possible terms we urge our fellow Christians to resist this naive movement, especially as our Arab Christian bothers and sisters suffer under violent or oppressive regimes - most notably in this case Hamas, supported by Iran, that oppose the very existence of Christianity and engage in religious persecution. Our belief that both Jews and Arabs carry the "Imago Dei," the image of God, prompts us to repudiate the BDS movement and any all efforts to amplify the message of hate, intolerance and antisemitism. Silence is not an option. Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, President of NHCLC/CONELA Robert Gittelson, VP Governmental Affairs, NHCLC