The Religious Left Targets Israel

The World Council of Churches prepares a new anti-Israel initiative.

Seemingly not content with its already extensive anti-Israel activism, the Swiss-based World Council of Churches, comprised of over 300 denominations, is highlighting a new anti-Israel initiative.

The WCC’s blandly but revealingly named “Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum” (PIEF) has been around a few years but has just unveiled its own website and newsletter, presumably in a new wave of protest against “The Occupation.”

According to PIEF’s new website, it plans to “catalyze and coordinate new and existing church advocacy for peace, aimed at ending the illegal occupation in accordance with UN resolutions, and demonstrate its commitment to inter-religious action for peace and justice that serves all the peoples of the region.”

Translation:  the WCC wants to fine tune its Religious Left alliances for undermining Israel’s legitimacy by faulting Israel exclusively for Palestinian suffering.  Tragically, the Religious Left’s ostensible concern for Palestinians is similar to much of the Arab world’s supposed concern.  For both, the Palestinians are mostly useful props for assailing Israel.   A more sincere and thoughtful empathy for Palestinians might them urge to follow the example of Israel’s founders 60 years ago:  take the deal available and strive to create a productive nation.

Ironically, the Religious Left’s contrived solidarity with Palestinians, like the international secular Left’s, will only help fuel unrealizable Palestinian hopes for demographically, if not militarily, deconstructing a Jewish Israel.  The ultimate beneficiaries of these anti-Israel campaigns are Hamas-style militants, who prefer unending conflict with Israel, and the West, to any decent settlement for Palestinians.

Either groups like the WCC and its PIEF are insidiously clever or simply willfully naïve, probably the latter. PIEF wants to target “government” and “public”  support for The Occupation, as well as its ostensibly “theological and biblical justifications.”  In other words, a primary objective is to discredit pro-Israel Christians in the U.S., not to mention Jewish historic rootedness to Israel.   It also wants to help uphold a “viable the Palestinian Christian presence in the Holy Land.”

Almost all the anti-Israel Religious Left groups profess to be very interested in defending the Christian presence in the West Bank and Gaza. Their interest is largely limited to identifying Israel as the anti-Christian persecutor, because they typically have little interest in often more threatened Christian communities in neighboring Arab countries.  Nor do they delve very deeply into why Christians are leaving the Holy Land, an ongoing exodus that long predates Israel’s founding, and which has accelerated since the Palestinian Authority’s creation and Israel’s partial withdrawal.   Obligingly, the Religious Left, including WCC/PIEF, quote Christian prelates in the West Bank, without admitting the political necessity for Christian Palestinians, as merely one percent of Palestinians, to burnish their anti-Israel credentials in a bid for survival among often hostile Muslims.

Radical Islam’s threat to Christians, to Israel, and to non-militant Palestinians goes unremarked by WCC/PIEF, as it usually does by the Religious Left as a whole.  PIEF’s website complains about Israel’s Gaza incursion and the “continuing blockade of the Gaza Strip” as “increasingly stringent” and a likely “form of collective punishment.”  This “blockade” has subjected 1.5 million Gazans to “unemployment, penury and malnutrition,” the WCC/PIEF bewail.  But Hamas’s misrule, terrorism and arms smuggling are naturally unmentioned as the cause for closing Gaza’s borders.  That Egypt has joined Israel in containing Hamas-controlled Gaza is likewise unnoted.

PIEF’s first newsletter focuses on Gaza’s “humanitarian and political crisis” as an obstacle to “just and durable solutions.”  Apparently Gaza would be fine if only Israel had not militarily interceded to halt rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel.   Or at least so PIEF asserts. In fact, even before the Hamas putsch against less rabid Palestinian rule, Yasir Arafat’s regime was scandalously bleeding Gaza of its already limited wealth in support of lavish living by Arafat cronies.  Theoretically, Gaza could be a thriving beach resort for European tourists, further engorged by endless international aid.  But of course its Palestinian rulers, with not inconsiderable public support from Gazans, prefer self-defeating conflict with Israel to any meaningful economic or political future.

According to PIEF, millions of dollars in international aid for Gaza has not helped Gazans because “essential supplies to Gaza are cut off.”  But Gaza’s declining fortunes began well before the Israeli and Egyptian border restrictions. “Churches must intercede in a way to guarantee that aid reaches the suffering swiftly,” PIEF implores.  “There needs to be concerted insistence on the assertion of accepted humanitarian practices and policy which guarantee that aid reaches those who need urgent without impediments of any sort.”

The Religious Left’s professed humanitarian concerns would be laudable, absent the crass political calculations behind it.  The Religious Left has long championed relief for impoverished Cuba, only because U.S. sanctions can be faulted.  The Religious Left similarly was supposedly very concerned about the Iraqi people under United Nations sanctions against Saddam Hussein, but only because the U.S. was the ultimate villain.  North Korea’s deplorable poverty and starvation periodically arouse Religious Left interest, but again only because of the U.S. angle.   The Palestinian Authority’s failed regime in the West Bank, and even more deplorable Hamas despotism in Gaza, with all the consequent suffering, would likely never cross the Religious Left radar screen, or generate groups like the WCC’s PIEF, were Israel and its U.S. ally not the final targets.