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Occasionally striving for impartiality through “discussion questions,” the PIJP study guide still can’t help itself by asking, in loaded fashion, about the “inherent injustices” with the United Nations 1947 partition of Palestine and about the “ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland.” It also asks about the “so-called ‘peace process’” in Oslo in 1993 creating Palestinian self-rule that “discouraged Palestinians.” One question simply could not hold back by asking: “Why is the notion of a Palestinian government (in the form of the Palestinian Authority) under Israeli occupation an absurd idea?” Less judgmentally, the PIJP refers without comment to the Second Intifada of 2000, laconically noting that “suicide bombing began,” which was a “violent form of resistance that had not existed in past acts of resistance.”
The Methodist PIJP study guide devotes a couple sections to international laws, which, naturally, argue only against Israeli “violations against Palestinian lives” and seemingly are not concerned about Palestinian actions, like suicide bombing. Indeed, international law apparently speaks only to Israel’s “eviction” of Palestinians, to Israel’s blockade against Hamas-controlled Gaza, to Israel’s supposedly wanton destruction of Palestinian homes, to Israel’s purportedly unjust arrest of Palestinians, and to the restrictions and inconveniences created by Israel’s security wall.
“Why should we care?” the student guide asked in its conclusion. PIJP’s study guide’s suggested responses include: “Injustice is being served; “Our tax dollars pay for this;” “God commands us to love justice;” and [Methodism founder] “John Wesley implores us to do good and be involved in social concerns.” Various Scriptures about justice are cited, as are some Wesley quotes about “social holiness” and “doing good.” Ostensibly these general quotes are the theological justification for Methodists specifically to villainize Israel and wholeheartedly endorse Palestinian liberation irrespective of consequences.
PIJP’s study guide encourages Methodists to connect with radical anti-Israel groups like Sabeel and read Jimmy Carter’s infamous Peace Not Apartheid. Support for Methodist missionary in “Israel/Palestine” Alex Awad is also urged. A steadfast political activist for Palestinian advocacy, Awad was recently cited by Fred Barnes in The Weekly Standard for declaring his own preference for Islamic Law in place of Israel’s “occupation.”
There seems to be no mention in PIJP’s study guide of Islamic Law and its impact on Christians. In his Weekly Standard piece, Barnes mentioned visiting a Christian orphanage on the West Bank, where babies and children go unadopted because Islamic Law bans Christian adoption, but Muslim culture is uncomfortable with adoption. What other aspects of Sharia would the Rev. Awad and the Minnesota Methodists prefer to any continued Israeli influence over the West Bank?
Suggestions from “Palestine/Israel: Advocating for a Just & Lasting Peace,” if treated seriously, would not result in either peace or justice. But Minnesota Methodists, or at least their elites, are maybe searching for a distraction from their sad decline, rather than any serious advocacy of a realistic peace in the Middle East.
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