The Presbyterian Church Boycott

June 27, 2014

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted last week to divest from three American companies that do business with Israel. The reason given by the assembly’s Stated Clerk Rev. Gradyne Parsons was, “We as a church cannot profit from the destruction of [Palestinian] homes and lives.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) vote to divest from three companies that do business with Israeli West Bank security forces. He also said the vote to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard was misguided because Israel protects civil rights in a region with rising tides of Islamist extremism.

 “The only place where you have freedom, tolerance, protection of minorities, protection of gays, of Christians and all other faiths is Israel,” he said.

Netanyahu suggested that American Presbyterian leaders “take a plane, come here and let’s arrange a bus tour in the region. Let them go to Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq.”

With the latest divestment decision the Presbyterian Church reach a new low point in its history. Hopefully, this will be a sign for many of its congregants to leave the Church and I say that with the deepest regret. I cannot otherwise, because to be silent while the sheep are led astray made me as guilty as the shepherds who follow their skewed dogmatic ideology.

In fact, the Presbyterian Church never parted from its anti-Israel stanch. On April 3-5, 1933 at a German Presbyterian convention in Berlin its slogan was “The state of Adolf Hitler appeals to the church and the church has to hear his call.” Thus, the latest decision should not be a surprise.

Christians of all stripes should, instead, inform themselves about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reach their own conclusions based on reason, not theology. Intellectual honesty will lead any inquirer to admit at the very least that the issues are complicated.

“In no way is this a reflection of our lack of love” for the Jewish people.

So assured Heath Rada, the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s moderator, at their annual Assembly on Friday, June 20, 2014, moments after his church voted to divest from three companies. Their crime: selling products to Israel security forces and Jews living in Judea and Samaria.

Coming weeks after Hamas terrorists abducted three Israeli teenagers – one an American citizen – it seemed a cynical double standard not to debate the reality of terror with which Israelis live on a daily basis. Amid the debate about Israel, no resolution was called for to demand the teens’ safe return. No calls were made for divestment of Arab regimes with horrendous human rights record. The delegates did not suggest using their moral weight to persuade Hamas to release the teens. They did not address political situations elsewhere in the world, nor mention human rights abuses around the globe. Their focus remained firmly, narrowly, on Israel and its alleged crimes.

One group that has been working towards divestment is the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The group, which features a segment called “Boycott 101” on its website, urging the boycott of various Israeli goods, issued a study guide for Presbyterian congregations earlier this year called “Zionism Unsettled”. Focusing entirely on alleged Israeli crimes and ignoring any context or history that has led to current political realities, the study guide paints Zionism as evil and irrational. It’s been criticized by Jewish groups as grossly simplistic, unfair, and one-sided. The Anti-Defamation League called “Zionism Unsettled” perhaps the “most anti-Semitic document to come out of a mainline American church in recent memory.”

Unless the Presbyterian Church is adherents of Replacement Theology, they need to take heed of what is written in the Bible about Israel and I only want to mention one portion of scripture:

 “God brought them out of Egypt; they have the strength of a wild ox. They devour hostile nations and break their bones in pieces; with their arrows they pierce them. Like a lion they crouch and lie down, like a lioness – who dares to rouse them? May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!” – Numbers 24:8-9.


The Consequences of a Unity Government between Fatah and Hamas

June 16, 2014

The names Gil-Ad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Elad Yifrach will forever be associated with yet another failed peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and the disastrous unity government between Fatah and Hamas. May the world and especially the United States learn through this episode – that to negotiate for peace should be based on the premises of a genuine endeavour of both parties to accommodate each other’s fears and aspirations.

Israel was prepared to make some painful concessions and indeed released Palestinian prisoners as a gesture to enhance peace. Instead of taking Israel’s outstretch hand, the Palestinians made more unrealistic demands.

The unity pact between Fatah and Hamas is problematic for the following reasons:

  1. The reluctance of both Fatah and Hamas to recognise Israel as a Jewish state.
  2. The reluctance of Hamas to change its hateful Charter and bring an end to their terror activities.
  3. The inability of Hamas to reign in its terror proxies in Gaza
  4.  The inability or unwillingness of Fatah to end incitement against Israel

Since the collapse of the peace process due to Palestinian intransigence, both Fatah and Hamas proved that they are unworthy partners in any peace process with Israel. How can anyone expect Israel to negotiate with people who:

  1. Instruct militants to abduct members of the IDF and citizens of Israel. This is what Hamas actively pursue the past few months and yet Fatah formed a unity government with them.
  2. Publish cartoons ridiculing Israelis. After the kidnapping of the three Israeli teenagers, the Facebook page of Abbas’ Fatah party posts a cartoon mocking the kidnapped Israeli teenagers as rats.
  3. Who celebrates massacres against Israel. Fatah, which many had considered a legitimate peace partner, created a film boasting about massacres against Israel and “heroes” who murdered civilians.

In response to the latest kidnappings, Israel should accelerate building activities in Judea and Samaria (the so-called West Bank), until the Palestinians have a change of heart and show real intent to negotiate for a lasting peace. The San Remo Declaration of 1922, the forerunner of the United Nations, created the framework for Israel to build in all land today known as Israel.

The framework and spirit of all agreements since the San Remo Declaration is effectively based on negotiations until a final settlement agreement is reached. Unfortunately, the Palestinian leadership through the years clearly showed a lack of transparency, which brought us to the current situation.

In light of the above, the government of Israel has hard and unpopular decisions to make. Those decisions should first and foremost be based on the security of Israel and its citizens. That should be non-negotiable and would practically mean no releasing of Palestinian prisoners with blood on their hands and the deportation of all members of Hamas to Gaza.

The minimum requirements for any future peace negotiations to start, should be the denouncement of violence by both Fatah and Hamas and the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Israel should take a principled stand on these two issues and under no circumstances ever compromise on it.

World leaders need to strongly condemn the kidnapping of the three teenagers and should strengthen the hands of Israel in fighting terrorism. It is high time that the western world unite against these despicable acts. If not, this kind of terrorism will also reach their doorstep.

May all of us who cherish life and value the dignity of the human being pray for the save return of Gil-Ad Shaar, Naftali Frenkel and Elad Yifrach and for the anguise their families have to go through.

Video: The Monster in the Middle East

Catastrophe still haunts Palestine

June 1, 2014

Imraan Buccus, research fellow in the School of Social Sciences at KZN and academic director of a study abroad programme on political transformation, wrote an article in New Age which can only be described as extremely biased. Victor Gordon wrote a counter letter and I decided to post it on my blog.

The key points of Imraan Buccus’ article:

# Had we not defeated apartheid, this year would have marked 66 years of oppression in South Africa

# But, as we celebrate democracy in South Africa, Israel, a country that continues to brutalise Palestinians marks 66 years of its existence

# And this week, on May 15th, Palestinians observed over 6 decades of occupation

# The late intellectual, Edward Said also recalled how in 1948 his entire family was turned into a scattering of refugees

Read full article here:

Victor Gordon’s answer to Imraan Buccus:

If Imraan Buccus wishes to reflect on a “Nakba” (Catastrophe) I urge him to take a more objective view of history as the first Nakba did not occur in 1948.

The first “Nakba”  occurred  as far back as 422 – 568 BC, when Solomon’s Temple,  located on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount,  was destroyed by the Babylonians, followed by a second “Nakba” in 70AD, when the Romans sent the Jews of Israel into a 2000 year exile following the destruction of the Second Temple.

“Nakba” (“Catastrophe”) after “Nakba” haunted the Jews  over this period, including the Spanish Inquisition of the 15th century,  the expulsion of the Jews from England in 1290, culminating in the most horrific “Nakba” of all, the Holocaust, which accounted for the murder of 6 million European Jews, aided and abetted by the Grand Mufti of  Jerusalem, Haj amin al-Husseini,  who visited Hitler with the offer of  support in rendering the world Judenrein.

Fresh from the Nazi death camps, the desperate survivors  found themselves facing yet another “Nakba” with Britain’s callous  refused to allow them to enter their one safe haven – their historic and spiritual homeland, Palestine, with which Jews have been intimately connected for over 3 millennia.

Instead, for three years they were incarcerated in squalid Displaced Persons Camps in Cyprus while an indifferent world mulled over this inconvenient problem.

In 1922 the Jews suffered another “Nakba” when Britain illegally stripped away 80% of the territory designated to them for a Jewish Homeland at the San Remo Conference in 1920 and enshrined into law by the League of Nations, utilizing it to form the new Arab state of Transjordan.

Thereafter, the “Nakba” of having to fight for their very survival within hours of declaring the newly sanctioned (by the United Nations)  Jewish State in 1948 and of subsequently burying 1% of their entire population who fell in that conflict,  coupled with the “Nakba” of having 800,000 Jews thrown out of every surrounding Arab/Muslim state with no more than the clothes on their backs, starts to place the one “Nakba”,  mourned annually by the Palestinians,  into stark perspective.

The “Nakbas” the Palestinians should be mourning are those of lost opportunities; the “Nakba” of turning down repeated offers to establish a state of their own and extract themselves from a misery of their own making.

Whilst Israel, in the face of all its “Nakbas”,  has become a world leader in almost every field of endeavour, the Palestinians, bogged down in ineffectual self pity, look to the world to save them from themselves.

Their “Nakbas” are self-inflicted for which, I, for one, have little sympathy.