Blog 263 July 27, 2015
With the congressional debate on the Iranian nuclear arms dealing making the headlines, the issue of supporting Israel is pressing. American public opinion expert Frank Luntz predicts Israel can block the deal in congress if they mount a unified PR campaign. According to Luntz, only 13% of Republicans believe Israel is a racist country while 47% of Democrats believe they are. Get ready. Your television is going to be bombarded with ads to persuade you to oppose the Iranian deal.
This issue is now effecting the American religious scene. U.S. Evangelicals stand united with Israel while some denominations have shifted in the other direction. Lifeway Research (a Southern Baptist organization) reports as high as 73% of American stand behind Israel. This percent is much higher than what is now the case in both the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) amd the United Church of Christ (UCC)
Both the Presbyterians and UCC groups are in serious decline. The UCC has lost 20 percent of its membership since 2000. However, both groups have been highly influence by the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) campaign that has been roaring across American college campuses for some time. The BDS has significantly distorted Israel’s position in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They do not pretend to be objective and have often been called anti-Semitic. Their distorted perspective colors the issues but have been disruptive in these two denominations.
During the PCUSA denominational hearings, Israel was accused of “biblical scale enslavement” of the Palestinians. A worker with the Palestinian BDS National Committee was brought in to testify while a minority opposition group was shunned. Presbyterians for Middle East Peace (PFMEP) attempted to discredit the BDS group but were a distinct minority and the church went with the BDS position. These BDS critics of Israel blame that country for every problem out there. While many members of these two denominations don’t buy the BDS line, their denominations print and propagate the BDS distorted position.
Why did the UCC and the PCUSA buy into this ideology? The BDS activists have waged a sophisticated propaganda campaign while moving inside the leadership of these two churches. In the mid-80’s, I traveled to the then Soviet Union with personnel from these two denominations. I attended a Soviet sponsored banquet in Minsk where clergy stood up and in effect denounced the leadership of the United States. I was horrified to listen to President Regan described as a “clown” in the midst of a group that we knew had KGB officers attending. Since I had traveled with these “voices,” I learned to listen to their opinions. They were naive, left-wing, and thought themselves to be superior to the elected leadership of America.
That attitude has not changed. It’s just taken a new direction. Palestine is now considered the oppressed. Never mind that thousands of rockets were shot into Israel from Gaza. Never mind that Paletinians steal across the border Boycoand kill Jewish children and youth. Never mind that Yasser Arafat walked out on a deal to end all conflicts and create a Palestinian state. The BDS never recognizes or discusses Israeli rights to defend themselves.
Israel will not be overcome by this threat but watch for it. It will be coming your way.