Jewish Journal

Liberal Protestants bash Israel again—why dialogue?

by Mark Paredes

July 12, 2012 | 12:54 am

According to the church’s official website, a semiannual General Synod of the Church of England “debates matters of national and international importance.” Given the current state of the world, there should be no shortage of items to discuss. However, the Eurozone meltdown, Syrian civil war, Iran nuclear talks breakdown, and other crises inexplicably failed to make the cut. In fact, only two international matters have been deemed worthy of discussion at the synods held this year: Muslim attacks on Christians in Nigeria and the World Council of Churches’  Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme (EAPPI), which takes people to the West Bank so that they can experience life under “occupation” and supports the anti-Semitic BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) campaign against Israel. According to the Jerusalem Post, the Board of Deputies of British Jews may vote to sever ties to the Church of England at its next meeting. Good for them.

Attendees at recent gatherings of liberal Protestant churches can be forgiven for wondering why Israel is always in their crosshairs. The Anglicans’ shameful vote to strengthen ties with the EAPPI comes on the heels of the Episcopal Church’s call for a negotiated two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians, a schizophrenic vote by Presbyterians to reject a divestment resolution while boycotting products made in West Bank settlements, and the rejection by Methodists of yet another divestment initiative. It’s quite clear that these liberal leaders lack an appreciation for the Jewish state, and it’s also obvious that political activism, not divine guidance, is fueling their unhealthy Israel obsession. I can’t imagine why anyone would care what liberal Protestant committees think about Israel, and admire Jewish organizations for their patience and forbearance when dealing with them.

The response of the Church of England’s interreligious affairs adviser to the synod’s vote was very telling: “Many Synod members abstained, not willing to dismiss EAPPI, but presumably registering that they understood the negative implications for Jewish-Christian relations of a positive vote.” In other words, the well-meaning synod voters didn’t object to the substance of the resolution, but feared that it might harm relations with the Jewish community.

I think that we can cut to the chase on the Israel issues by asking attendees at upcoming meetings of liberal Protestants to vote on the following question: Is the Abrahamic covenant valid today? They will deny that it is. Mormons believe that the covenant remains valid, and that is why the LDS Church has sent apostles to dedicate the Land of Israel on many occasions for the gathering of the Jewish people. Jews believe in the continuing validity of the covenant as well, which is why they have worked so hard to establish and preserve their state. Mormons and Jews may disagree on what the terms of the Abrahamic covenant are and on what one needs to do to receive the blessings of the covenant, but they agree that the Abrahamic covenant is 100% in force today. As a result, you don’t see LDS leaders debating divestment from Israel out of a misguided search for “justice” and “peace.”

There is no reason to expect that liberal Christian synods and conventions will adopt a more comprehensive view of injustice in the world in the near future. Each year brings new phraseology and new resolutions, but the underlying message is the same: The Abrahamic covenant is not valid for Jews today, and Israel is one of the worst countries in the world. Once Jews realize this, more of them will emulate the actions of the British Jewish leaders by looking elsewhere for fruitful dialogue on Israel.           

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Mark Paredes is a former Mormon bishop currently living in Los Angeles. He has worked for the ZOA, the American Jewish Congress, and the Consulate General of Israel in Los...

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