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While the United Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church (USA) denominations will ponder anti-Israel divestment at their conventions this year, the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop opposes divestment.
“The Episcopal Church does not endorse divestment or boycott,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori recently told a Los Angeles group. “It’s not going to be helpful to endorse divestment or boycotts of Israel. It will only end in punishing Palestinians economically.”
Although often left-wing and politicly correct, the Episcopal Church’s chief prelate and other officials, maybe mindful of interfaith relations with Jewish leaders, have typically steered away from the worst anti-Israel zeal. Unlike the Methodist and Presbyterians, the Episcopalians will not seriously consider divestment at their own convention this year.
Speaking to a Middle East Peacemakers luncheon, Schori was obliged to make the usual calls for “dialogue” and to imply moral equivalence between Israel’s struggle to exist versus Palestinian calls for its eradication. “We can urge Israel to freeze the settlement activity,” she suggested, according to Episcopal News Service. “We can urge the Palestinian Authority to recognize Israel’s right to exist. We can condemn violence everywhere.”
But strikingly unlike others on the Religious Left, she did not demonize Israel, or glowingly embrace pro-Palestinian Liberation Theology. “We can urge our legislators and government to encourage dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian leaders,” she opined. “We can urge them to refrain from de-funding hopeful initiatives.” And she urged positive investment in “legitimate development in Palestine’s West Bank and in Gaza.” Schori called for a “two-state solution with a dignified home for Palestinians and for Israelis.” Meanwhile, some on the Religious Left are increasingly inclined towards admitting their support for a “one-state” solution that would demographically eradicate Israel’s Jewish democracy.
As Bishop Schori was urging relative moderation, the harder line Religious Left was backing the March 30 “March on Jerusalem.” It is hoping to mobilize many thousands to denounce Israel’s ostensible “Apartheid, ethnic cleansing and Judaisation policies.” Besides backing from former Obama pastor Jeremiah Wright and Christian Socialist Cornel West of Union Seminary, the march is backed by Friends of Sabeel – North America (FOSNA). Presbyterian minister Don Wagner is the FOSNA national program director and recently denounced Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren’s Wall Street Journal column that noted Christians are increasing inside Israel but declining in Muslim-majority Palestinian territory.
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