The PCUSA recently signed a statement opposing any extension of the Abraham Accords that are designed to embrace the aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians. There were 29 signatures to the statement. Not one of them was a Christian denomination or organization. Most noticeably, the two main line denominations that have churches in Israel and Palestine, the ELCA and the Episcopal Church, did not sign onto this petition. The PCUSA joined a group of 28 secular organizations with histories of fighting against Israel´s right to exist as a Jewish state. PCUSA General Assemblies have repeatedly supported Israel´s right to exist as a Jewish state even as we have called on Israel to respect human rights.
It has been the stated policy of the United States to help normalize relations between the State of Israel and its Arabs neighbors, understanding that peace will not be achieved without this mutual recognition. These attempts are seen in the peace treaties between Egypt and Israel and Jordan and Israel. The Clinton administration, besides working to support the Oslo process, put tremendous time and energy in trying to bring Syria to the table as well.
While PFMEP was and is not supportive of former President Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” we support the continued attempts of the US government to create peaceful relations between the State of Israel and its Arab neighbors. Why in the world would the PCUSA express opposition to such steps? Why did PCUSA sign on to this petition when other denominations did not? Since the GA has repeatedly supported peace efforts to create two states for two peoples, who authorized the signature for this statement?
Whoever signed the statement, has also ignored GA actions in 2008 reminding us not to “over-identify with the realities of the Israelis or Palestinians…We will avoid taking broad stands that simplify a very complex situation into a caricature of reality where one side clearly is at fault and the other side clearly the victim.” Whoever agreed to the statement also ignores guidance at the 2016 GA where it was clearly stated, “We stand with the people of Israel, affirming their right to exist as a sovereign nation…the assembly expresses its opposition to any efforts to deny or undermine the rights of the Palestinian people or the Jewish people to self-determination.”
Whoever signed the statement chose to ignore these statements in order that PCUSA appear alongside groups like the Arab Resource & Organizing Center which has previously stated “Bringing down Israel will benefit everyone in the world, and everyone in society.”
We must ask the question: Who is running the store in Louisville? COGA recently released a statement which rightfully concludes that Stated Clerk has the authority to speak and act in certain areas. Strikingly, COGA did not take a stand on what happens when the Stated Clerk or some other PCUSA entity signs or makes a statement that is contrary to policy statements by past General Assemblies. Again, who was responsible for signing this statement? Will the 2022 General Assembly let this signature stand?