JNS quoted B’nai B’rith Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs David Michaels in its coverage of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) adopting an overture falsely accusing Israel of being an apartheid state.
The International Engagement Committee of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A)’s 225th annual General Assembly adopted an overture accusing Israel of being an apartheid state on June 28.
Several Christian organizations, alongside groups opposed to anti-Semitism, protested against the overture and the denomination’s growing anti-Israel posturing before and after its adoption. The Philos Project, a Christian nonprofit dedicated to fostering positive Christian engagement with the Middle East, was at the forefront of the demonstrations.
On June 25, Philos organized a campaign for participants to drop a pre-drafted letter at their nearest Presbyterian church three days before the committee considered the overture. The letter called on the denomination’s leaders to reject the overture, “On Recognition That Israel’s Laws, Policies, and Practices Constitute Apartheid Against the Palestinian People.”
Submitted by the Presbytery of Grace—a body of Presbyterian elders and ministers—the overture called on the Presbyterian Church to consider Israeli laws vis-à-vis Palestinians as fulfilling “the international legal definition of apartheid.”
Equating Israeli-Palestinian relations with race relations in apartheid South Africa, the overture alleged that Israel had separate laws for Jews and Palestinians that privileged Jews over Palestinians, and that Israel relegated Palestinians to “reserves and ghettos.” The overture further accused Israel of “[e]xpropriating Palestinian land and water for Jewish-only settlements” and denying Palestinians “freedom of residence” and “right to a nationality,” and called for PCUSA to take action against the Jewish state.
‘Instrumentalize the church to demonize Israel’
B’nai B’rith Director of United Nations and Intercommunal Affairs David J. Michaels told JNS that the Presbyterian Church’s overtures “escalate a record of obsessive one-sidedness,” adding that they contain a “recognition only of Israeli sin and only of Palestinian hardship.”
“Israel, a democracy, is slandered as an ‘apartheid’ state, but not its violent adversaries, or any non-democratic state,” he said. “Palestinian suffering is memorialized as a ‘catastrophe,’ but not Israeli Jews’ suffering.”