The hostility of the religious left toward the United States is extended also to America’s close ally, Israel. The 3.2 million-member Presbyterian Church USA, for instance, has called for divestment from firms that do business with the Jewish state. The 1.3 million-member United Church of Christ (UCC) has similarly endorsed “economic leverage” against Israel. And some officials of the 8.2 million-member United Methodist Church have also pondered divestment possibilities aimed at Israel.
When forced to choose between maintaining good relations with American Jewish groups and registering disaffection for Israel, officials of these church groups often choose the latter course. After Hamas had registered a major electoral victory in the Palestinian Authority (PA) elections of 2006, for instance, UCC leaders immediately implored the U.S. Congress not to adopt “punitive legislation” that would cut off direct American aid to the PA, even though the latter was now controlled by an organization permanently committed to the destruction of Israel and the mass murder of Jews. “The U.S. should honor its financial commitments made in recent years to alleviate Palestinian suffering and back up U.S. policy to seek a two-state solution,” declared UCC President John Thomas and UCC missions executive Peter Makari. Moreover, the UCC faulted the Israeli “occupation” and “U.S.-supported Israeli unilateralism” for virtually all Palestinian problems.
The National Council of Churches (NCC) has been similarly anti-Israel in its positions over the years, aiming a disproportionate share of its human rights complaints at the Jewish state. In February 2005, for example, NCC proclaimed that “[t]he crushing burden of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory contributes to deep anger and violent resistance, which contributes to fear throughout Israeli society.”
Likewise, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has consistently denounced Israel and championed the Palestinian cause. At the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, the WCC demanded an official denunciation of Israel for its “systematic perpetration of racist crimes including war crimes, acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing.” Echoing the Council’s long-held beliefs in a 2009 address, WCC General Secretary Samuel Kobia attacked Israel’s “occupation” of Palestinian lands as a “sin against God.” Echoing claims of Palestinian radicals, he went on to call Israel’s 1948 founding a “catastrophe” and a “form of ‘ethnic cleansing’ that [triggered] the largest forced migration [by Arabs] in modern history.”
In 2004, local chapters of Pax Christi USA signed a letter exhorting members of the United States Senate to oppose Israel’s construction of an anti-terrorism security barrier in the West Bank — characterizing the structure as an illegal “apartheid wall” that stood in violation of the civil and human rights of Palestinians.
The antiwar Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) began organizing activities related to the Arab-Israeli conflict in 1992, when the group dispatched “violence-reduction workers” to interfere with the anti-terrorist efforts of Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers in Palestinian towns. The number of CPT missions in support of Palestinians has grown steadily over time, now constituting half of the organization’s worldwide activity. CPT cooperates with, shares personnel with, and works alongside the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which candidly justifies Palestinian terrorism as a legitimate form of “resistance.”
Jesse Jackson in 1979 made a controversial visit to the Palestinian terrorist leader Yasser Arafat – a man responsible for the murders of more Jews than any human being since Adolf Hitler. When Jackson was running for U.S. President five years later, he made what he assumed was an off-the-record comment to a black reporter in which he derisively referred to Jews as “Hymies,” and to New York City as “Hymietown.” In October 2008, Jackson, speaking in France at the first World Policy Forum, predicted that a Barack Obama presidency would bring much-needed “fundamental changes” in U.S. foreign policy — most notably by ending America’s “decades of putting Israel’s interests first,” and by standing up to “Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades.”
In September 2002, Catholic priest and liberation theologian Michael Pfleger led a rally in Chicago condemning the Israeli army’s recent destruction of Yasser Arafat’s compound in the city of Ramallah. That Israeli action, it should be noted, was in response to a long series of deadly terrorist attacks Arafat had unleashed against Jewish civilians.
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has a long, well-documented history of venom-laced references to the Jewish “bloodsuckers” who purportedly decimate America’s black communities from coast to coast. He has referred to Judaism as a “gutter religion,” and to Adolf Hitler as “a great man”” — though he later claimed that he had meant only that Hitler was “wickedly great.”
The black liberation theologian Jeremiah Wright, who served for many years as pastor of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ (where Barack Obama was one of his longtime parishioners), has consistently denounced Israel and Zionism for allegedly imposing “injustice,” “racism,” and “ethnic cleansing” on the Palestinian people. Likening Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to South Africa’s abuse of blacks during the apartheid era, Wright advocates divestment campaigns targeting companies that conduct business in, or with, the Jewish state. He has referred to Israel as a “dirty word.” When asked in a June 2009 interview whether he had spoken to President Obama since the latter had taken his oath of office five months earlier, Wright replied: “Them Jews aren’t going to let him [Obama] talk to me.”
Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of Tikkun, has consistently aligned himself with the Palestinians in their ongoing conflict with Israel. Lerner characterizes Israel as a nation whose “repressive” and “fascistic” leadership uses “disproportionate force to repress an essentially unarmed population.” He exhorts Jews everywhere “to atone for the pain we have inflicted on the Palestinian people in [many] years of brutal occupation, and in forcing so many Palestinians out of their home and not allowing them to return in 1948-49.”
In September 1979, Methodist minister and civil rights icon Joseph Lowery met with PLO leader Yasser Arafat in Lebanon. In a subsequent interview, Lowery called then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin “a terrorist.” In 2001 Lowery impugned the U.S. for having boycotted the World Conference Against Racism (in Durban, South Africa), an anti-Israel hate-fest where Jewish delegates were verbally smeared and physically assaulted.
In 1995, Al Sharpton led his National Action Network in an ugly boycott against Freddy’s Fashion Mart, a Jewish-owned business in Harlem, New York. The boycott started when Freddy’s owners announced that because they wanted to expand their own business, they would no longer sublet part of their store to a black-owned record shop. The street leader of the boycott, Morris Powell, was the head of Sharpton’s “Buy Black” Committee. He and his fellow protesters repeatedly referred to the Jewish proprietors of Freddy’s as “crackers” and “greedy Jew bastards.” All this occurred under the watchful, approving eye of Sharpton. Over time, the picketing became ever-more menacing in its tone until one of the protesters eventually shot four whites in the store and then set the building on fire –– killing seven employees.
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