Additional Information on the Episcopal Church

Both the General Convention and the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church have criticized Israel far more than they have criticized the Palestinians. The following information is excerpted from a 2006 report by the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA):

Anti-Israel Resolutions:

  • In November 1994, the Executive Council approved a resolution asking Motorola to “establish a policy to prohibit the sale of products or provision of services to any settlement, including persons residing in those settlements, located in the Occupied Territories.” This resolution, passed one month after two Hamas suicide bombings had killed 13 Israelis and wounded 80, did not offer any condemnation of Palestinian violence or call on companies to ensure that equipment they sell to the Palestinians is not used for terror attacks.
  • In June 1995, the Executive Council passed a resolution asserting that Jerusalem should be a shared city (ignoring decades of Arab aggression against Israel that make such an arrangement untenable) and condemning the construction of settlements in the West Bank including East Jerusalem.
  • In July 2000, the General Convention approved a resolution affirming the “right of return for every Palestinian, as well as restitution/compensation for their loss as called for by the United Nations.”
  • In August 2003, the General Convention approved resolutions condemning the construction of the security barrier and home demolitions without explicitly condemning or calling for an end to Palestinian suicide bombings, drive-by-shootings and other violence.
  • In June 2006, so-called peace and justice activists within the Episcopal Church presented draft resolutions to the General Convention condemning the security barrier without asking the Palestinians to stop the terror attacks that prompted its construction.

Statements from Clergy:

  • On June 30, 2006, Rev. Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, signed a letter to President Bush asking him to restrain the Israeli government’s response to the kidnaping of an Israeli soldier, but did not similarly ask the President to pressure the Palestinians to release the soldier in question or to stop their Qassam rocket attacks emanating from Gaza. This letter, which was also signed by Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, failed to acknowledge other violent acts of war perpetrated by the Palestinians, including other kidnapings and hundreds of rocket attacks from Gaza.
  • On July 12, 2006, the Boston Globe reported that Bishop M. Thomas Shaw of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts would protest the Israeli incursion into Gaza in front of the Israeli Consulate in Boston. At this protest, held on the same day Hezbollah launched rockets into Israel and kidnapped two soldiers, so-called peace and justice activists accused Israel of “genocide.” The presence of Bishop Shaw in clerical garb at this protest lent unwarranted credence to these false accusations.

Anti-Israel Church Publications:

  • [O]n July 31, 2001 the Episcopal Church’s “Peace and Justice Ministries” published a patently dishonest portrayal of the Camp David offer of 2000 which repeats many of the lies and distortions put forth by Palestinian leaders at the beginning of the Second Intifada. This document states: “Israel’s proposal divided Palestine into four separate cantons surrounded by Israel…. Such a Palestinian state would have had less sovereignty and viability than the Bantustans created by the South African apartheid government.”What the document does not acknowledge is that by the end of negotiations brokered by the Clinton Administration, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak agreed to a settlement that would have ceded all of Gaza, approximately 95 percent of the West Bank, and an additional 1-3 percent of Israeli territory from its pre-1967 border to the Palestinians. Dennis Ross, U.S. Envoy to the Middle East from 1988 to 2000 who presided over the Camp David/Taba negotiations, describes the final offer to the Palestinians as follows: “[Ehud] Barak’s government had now formally accepted ideas that would effectively divide east Jerusalem, end the IDF’s presence in the Jordan Valley, and produce a Palestinian State in roughly 97 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of Gaza…. [T]he Palestinians would have in the West Bank an area that was contiguous. Those who say there were cantons, completely untrue. It was contiguous…. And to connect Gaza with the West Bank, there would have been an elevated highway, an elevated railroad, to ensure that there would be not just safe passage for the Palestinians, but free passage.”
  • The Episcopal Church’s statement regarding the Camp David negotiations also asserts “there is no evidence that the PA or the majority of Palestinians have abandoned the two-state solution” when in fact, Yasir Arafat routinely spoke of the destruction of Israel to his followers while talking peace with Israel and the Clinton Administration.
  • [A] distorted timeline on the church’s Web site deceptively omits key aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict. For example, the timeline uses the word terrorism once – in reference to Jewish violence against Great Britain in 1946 – while making no mention of the suicide attacks against Israeli civilians that began in 1994. And while omitting any direct reference to Palestinian terrorism, the timeline emphasizes that Israeli-Arabs were shot during the Second Intifada.
  • The chronology describes the Six Day War as follows: “Israel conquers the Sinai, Golan Heights, Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem, which it annexed.” What the chronology omits is that Egypt provoked the war by closing the Straits of Tiran and blockading the Israeli port of Eilat, an act of war under international law, that Egypt expelled UN peacekeeping troops from the Sinai Peninsula, and that Egypt issued bellicose statements promising the imminent destruction of Israel. And while referencing  UN Security Council Resolution 242, which established the “land-for-peace” principle, it does not mention the Arab response to that resolution: the Three No’s of Khartoum issued by the Arab League in 1967 – no recognition, no negotiation and no peace with Israel. Israel gained territory in a defensive war, tried to negotiate and was rebuffed. The chronology conveys none of this.
  • The chronology reports that Israel invaded Lebanon in 1978 and 1982 without describing the attacks by the PLO that prompted these invasions.
  • The chronology states that the Camp David negotiations broke down, without acknowledging that Yasir Arafat walked away from negotiations – without making a counteroffer – after Israel made far-reaching land for peace offers.
  • Moreover, the chronology places responsibility for the Second Intifada on Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount in September 2000, even as Palestinian officials have admitted preparing for the Second Intifada immediately after Yasir Arafat returned from the failed negotiations at Camp David in July. The chronology also fails to report that Sharon’s visit was coordinated with the Palestinian Authority’s security chief.

Episcopal News Service:

  • A search of the archives of the Episcopal News Service (ENS) reveals a similar bias against Israel. As with their timeline, resolutions and public statements about the Arab-Israeli conflict, this bias manifests itself through generally ignoring violence against Israeli civilians, presenting detailed coverage of anti-Israel criticism, omitting any response from Israeli officials and a tendency to repeat without scrutiny allegations issued by Anglican Archbishop Riah Abu al-Assal of Jerusalem…. Articles covering the ongoing violence perpetrated against Israelis, however, are few and far between, while articles dedicated to detailing the suffering of the Palestinians are routine fare for the ENS.

Support for Sabeel:

Another salient aspect of the Episcopal Church’s anti-Israel stance is the pattern of links between it and Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center headquartered in Jerusalem (Sabeel) and its sister organization, Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA). These two organizations demonize Israel and wrap Palestinian violence against Israelis in the mantle of innocent suffering…. Links between the Episcopal Church and Sabeel and FOSNA include the following:

  • Sabeel’s Founder is Anglican Priest Naim Ateek, who before his retirement served as Canon at St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem.
  • Edmond Browning, former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church is currently listed as the President of FOSNA, and as having donated $10,000 to the organization.
  • Rev. Canon Dick Toll, an Episcopal priest from Milwaukie, Oregon is national chair for FOSNA.
  • The group’s IRS disclosure form (990) for 1998 states that its primary founders and board members are from the Episcopal Church.In short, the three most prominent members of Sabeel’s leadership in Jerusalem and the United States are members of the Anglican communion, one of them a former Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church.
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