Religious Left Joins in Condemning Israel

Mark Tooley is President of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (www.theird.org) and author of Methodism and Politics in the Twentieth Century. Follow him on Twitter: @markdtooley.


It didn’t take long.  Israel had barely begun to respond militarily to Hamas’s ongoing rocket attacks on Israeli civilians when the “U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation” quickly asked its supporters to urge President Obama to “investigate” Israel’s “violations” of U.S. weapons laws.

The suggested communication to Obama noted Israel had killed 21 mostly civilian Palestinians in the “occupied and besieged” Gaza.  It also kindly admitted that 3 Israeli civilians had died from a Palestinian rocket.  It’s not clear how Gaza is “occupied” since Israel withdrew in 2007, leaving it to suffer under Hamas rule.

“Israel’s attacks against the Gaza Strip are being committed with U.S. weapons given to Israel as military aid by the U.S. taxpayer,” the U.S. Campaign complained.  “These weapons are being misused by Israel in violation of the U.S. Arms Export Control Act to commit grave human rights abuses of Palestinians.”

Naturally, the U.S. Campaign omits that Hamas and its agents have launched 120 rockets against Israel in the recent week.  Or that Hamas this year has fired over 760 rockets and mortar rounds into Israel.  Or over 2500 since 2009.  Or that Hamas and friends have a stockpile of 10,000 rockets.  For the U.S. Campaign, these facts are largely irrelevant.   They do not really support Israel’s right to exist, much less to defend itself.  The U.S. Campaign and its member groups are not asking any other nation in the world to endure routine rocket attacks on civilian centers by a terrorist group.

What is the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation?  It boasts that it’s the “largest and most diverse coalition working to change U.S. policy toward Palestine/Israel to support human rights, international law, and equality.”  By “human rights” it means exclusively criticizing Israel for all Middle East strife and ignoring transgressions by Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, and every other actor in the region.

The U.S. Campaign claims over 400 member groups, many of them pretty marginal and kooky, like Code Pink and the National Lawyers Guild.  It lists only 165 groups as in “good standing” for 2012.  Religious groups are prominent among them, including the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, which is an over $150 million missions agency, the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), the Methodist Federation for Social Action, United Methodist Board of Church and Society (official lobby office for United Methodist Church), Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns (leftist Catholic order), Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land, Episcopal Bishop’s Committee for Israel/Palestine, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, United Church of Christ Palestine/Israel Network, and the United Methodist Task Force on Peace with Justice in Palestine/Israel.  There are also local chapters of Sabeel and the Council on Arab Islamic Relations.  Interestingly, the only major official denominational agencies are from the United Methodist Church.

Needless to point out, the U.S. Campaign has special programs equating Israel to Apartheid South Africa, to commemorate the “Nakba” (catastrophe) of Israel’s founding, to advocate boycotts and divestments against Israel, and to oppose U.S. support for Israel across the board.  Its very focused theme is to stand with Israel’s enemies in disputing Israel’s right to exist.

Meanwhile, some U.S. denominations are advertising a new statement from 100 Palestinian Christian elites, many of them based in “Occupied Jerusalem,” urging Palestinian membership in the United Nations.   “Just like our Palestinian Muslim brothers and sisters, we have been denied our national and human rights for almost a century,” is how they introduce themselves, which is very interesting.  Apparently they’re dating the loss of their “human rights” to the fall of the Ottoman Empire, which was not typically renowned for “human rights.”   Does this group equate “human rights” with Muslim rule? They also describe 64 years of “exile,” referring to their having been “forcibly expelled” from Israel at its founding.   They refer to Israel as a “belligerent occupying power that works tirelessly to distance us from the peace we seek and pray for.”

According to the Palestinian Christians, “The occupation, oppression, exile and Apartheid, have made of everyday a good Friday,” likening their plight to the sufferings of Christ on the cross.  “We believe the Palestine Liberation Organization’s initiative to enhance Palestine’s status in the United Nations to an Observer State is a positive, collective, and moral step that will get us closer to freedom,” they insist, targeting their appeal especially to European governments.  At least one of the signers, Alex Awad, is a United Methodist missionary.

Such statements from Palestinian Christians are routinely heralded by U.S. denominations to prove that Israel is oppressing Christians.  As such, Palestinian Christians, who comprise a tiny percentage of the Palestinian population, serve as convenient props for anti-Israel campaigns.  Of course, these Christians have little choice but to burnish their Palestinian nationalist credentials as they struggle for survival as a tiny minority under Muslim rule.  And their plight would not in the least concern these same U.S. church groups if Israel were not the villain.  Compare the ink and verbiage expended on the few tens of thousands of Palestinian Christians versus millions of Egyptian Coptic Christians, whose plight now under Muslim Brotherhood rule is of virtually no interest to these church crusaders for “human rights.”

At least the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation, with its religious advocates of “human rights,” has fully unveiled its true intent, by opposing Israel’s right even to react against years of rocket attacks by Hamas.  For them, there can be no peace or justice in the Middle East until Israel just goes away.

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  • Mary Sue

    Irony: Fighting for "human rights" for a group that wouldn't know what human rights are if it bit them on the behind, against the only country that recognizes human civil rights in the entire region.

  • ze-ev ben jehuda

    They must hate Jews. But you just wait till your muslim friends come a nocking at your doors,
    then all of a sudden, the Jews are your best friends again.?? The smell is unbearable.

    • 4frespeech

      Anti-American Fascist they would have made Hitler proud

    • SBFLA

      THe Jew is the mortal enemy of islamic muslims so says their religion. They want all Jews dead which really explains their hostility over the last few decades. Israel is the promised land to the Jews by God and this is what they fight for, but thats not a good enough answer when youa re dealing with a group of islamic terrorists and muslims that are taught to kill every Jew they encounter no questions asked. Palesine and Hamas cannot just leave Israel alone. They will try to turn every person on this planet against Israel before they will admit they are the instigators here. Quit firing rockets into Israel and they will stop firing back. Pretty simple solution.

  • pierce

    Why are you condemning the religious left, it is THE LEFT THAT SHOULD BE CONDEMNED, PERIOD, END OF THE CONDEMNATION. THE TROUBLE IS THE LEFTIST THINK THEY CAN CONDEMN ANYTHING, AND THEIR SAY IS SO, WELL IT IS NOT.

    • Mary Sue

      the religious left is even worse than the nonreligious left, because they are hypocrites of a higher order.

  • EthanP

    Their anti semitism is showing. But of course it's PC to be an anti semite as long as your semites are Israelis. They are lucky their chosen enemy are Jews. We are taught to love life (even theirs) forgive hatred (even of us) and to forgive (transgressions against us).

    Because if we were Mislims, we would hunt them down and kill them.

  • IsraelFirster

    Religous and Left are a contradiction in terms.

  • Ghostwriter

    In my opinion,the Religious Left are a bunch of fools. They don't know who the real enemy is and it ISN'T Israel.

  • BS77

    If Hamas concentrated on farming, schools and business, none of this horrible violence would be happening. If Hamas did not fire thousands of rockets at Israel, none of this would be happening..

    • Mary Sue

      i read somewhere that after Israel packed up and left Gaza to Hamas, all the greenhouses were destroyed.

      It's like, what the hell, Hamas? They could have been self-sufficient in their food!

      On the other hand in a twisted way it almost makes sense; it enables them to QQ about "blockades" and "starving Gazan children".

      • Lady_Dr

        You remember that correctly – some fool Americans actually bought the greenhouses (although the Jews of Gaza didn't get much) and gave them to the Palestianians who proceeded to destroy them.

        While I don't think it would have made them totally self-sufficient in food it would have gone a long way. AND the Palestianian workers in the green-houses lost their jobs.

  • Freddie

    The biggest mistake for the Palestinians was electing Hamas as their leaders.

    • Lady_Dr

      Yes it was, but you can always count on the evil doing evil. IAnd while we consider it a mistake this is exactly what they wanted. Just like the Arab Spring – it wasn't about getting rid of an oppressor and bringing in Democracy (well for a very few it might have been). The reality is that didn't want Mubarak because he was keeping the lid on things and wasn't going to war with Israel.

      Oh, and that election – Condi Rice supported allowing Hamas on the ticket. Thank god she is out of the government now.

  • pierce

    To be or not to be, that is the ultimate question. Tis more nobel not to be than to be.
    Deception wins out over all forms