Before the Middle East Issues Committee—Tuesday

The single most important overture before the committee today addresses dialogue between Presbyterians and the American Jewish community. It is important to remember that there are few problems regarding Presbyterian-Jewish dialogue on the community level. Most congregations report that, despite incendiary actions by past General Assemblies on issues near and dear to most of the American Jewish community, their long-standing relationships with nearby temples and synagogues remain close and healthy. From the view on the streets for our local churches, this overture invents a problem that doesn’t exist.

So what is the problem? Some in our denomination want to insist that Presbyterian-Jewish dialogues consist not only of our neighboring Jewish congregations but small groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace who have lobbied the PCUSA to take positions mainstream Jewish denominations reject. This effort to forcibly include Jewish Voice for Peace and other far left groups has been ongoing for several years by those within the PCUSA who have resented the mainstream Jewish groups who disagree with the PCUSA’s decision to divest.

This is a case of “let’s not fix what isn’t broken.” There is nothing to stop any congregation from inviting Jewish Voice for Peace or anyone else to a dialogue. If the local Jewish or Presbyterian congregation doesn’t want to participate under those terms, everyone is free to not participate.