The 223rd Presbyterian General Assembly (GA) begins in St. Louis in a few days, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will again be on the agenda. Most Presbyterians will come to the GA with open hands, reached out to the Palestinian and Jewish peoples in a spirit of peace, grace, friendship, and reconciliation. For decades GA’s have affirmed the rights of both peoples to peace, freedom and self-determination. It would be tragic to see the 223rd GA abandon this long-established and just position.
A few of our Presbyterian sisters and brothers see things differently and will come to the GA with anger directed at Israel. They will call for outright rejection of the idea that both peoples have rights, and argue that only the Palestinian people deserve our support while the Jewish people must be seen as adversaries. The Jewish people of Israel will be described as cruel oppressors guilty of a wide variety of crimes. They will be depicted as lacking legitimate roots and connection to the land of Israel, and will be broadly stereotyped as “colonialists” whose very presence in the state of Israel is a crime. Jewish supporters of Israel around the world will be depicted as blind supporters of a cruel and criminal enterprise. These attacks in the past have been cloaked as human rights advocacy, but this time there is no ambiguity.
Those who see things this way will claim their position is based on a need for justice, but we argue that justice must be based on truth. “Justice” based on falsehoods is the worst form of injustice. They will claim there is no conflict, only a situation in which one people oppresses another. Is the truth that simple? Of course not. The solution to the hardship of the Palestinian people is peace, and peace can come only from agreement of the two peoples. There is no other way.
To the voting commissioners of the 223rd GA we say this: you will be asked to join a few and condemn a nation and a people. This is something you will have to pray about. We could suggest you read books and articles about the conflict and the history of the two peoples but we will not. There is only one book that will help you reach the right decision and all of you have already read it. God bless you.
Overture [07-01] does not specifically address Middle East issues. However, the aim of the overture is so consistent with our theme of reconciliation and opposing anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim actions and words that we feel called to endorse strongly its passage. We cannot oppose extremists in both Israel and Palestine unless we are also opposing extremists in the United States. We urge the General Assembly to approve this overture by acclamation.
PFMEP at GA
Presbyterians for Middle East Peace will be at GA. Please stop by our Booth in the Exhibition Center to introduce yourself and talk about any issues regarding the PCUSA as a peacemaker in Israel-Palestine.
Click here for our guide on overtures and resolutions relating to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
PFMEP is also hosting a breakfast on Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking on Saturday June 16 at 7 AM in the Marriott Grand Hotel, Landmark rooms 5-7. Among the speakers will be noted Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid. There will be videos of Palestinians and Israelis actively and successfully working together to build peace from the grassroots up. Tickets for the full breakfast are $10 and can be purchased at the door.