By Isi Leibler
The recent initiative by a group of Protestant Christian leaders calling on Congress to reevaluate military aid to Israel is a nauseating example of applying double standards against Jews and Israel under the cloak of piety and hypocritical sanctimoniousness.
The signatories include leaders of the Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist and National Council of Churches. Although many of the rank and file members of these churches are supporters of Israel and unaware of these activities, their radical anti-Israeli leaders were obviously not inhibited from taking such action despite being aware of the role of their churches in demonizing, persecuting and murdering Jews over the past 2000 years.
One is tempted to suggest that some of the current Lutheran leaders have inherited the antisemitic poison of their 16th century founder, Martin Luther, who after failing to convert the Jews, called on his followers to murder these “poisonous envenomed worms” and set fire to their synagogues and schools. They have simply redirected his anti-semitic obsessions towards the Jewish state in lieu of individual Jews.
These Protestant Christian groups share a common belief in the displacement of the Old Testament by the New, in stark contrast to the evangelical Christians who reject this approach and do not believe that permanent exile is God’s punishment for Jews’ rejection of Christianity.
The timing of this appeal to Congress to effectively end military aid to Israel magnifies their malice. Israel today confronts greater threats to its existence than at any time since its creation. It is the only country in the world whose neighboring countries would embark on a war designed to annihilate it tomorrow – if they felt they could succeed.
It is a time when a nuclear Iran poses a potentially existential threat to Israel; when Islamic fundamentalism has extended its influence and menaces Israel security at virtually every border; when the antisemitic Muslim Brotherhood, the creator of Hamas, holds the reins of power in Egypt and threatens to undermine the peace treaty with Israel; when Al Qaeda operates freely in the Sinai Peninsula and threatens Israeli civilians; when Iran’s surrogate Hezbollah, is pointing thousands of missiles towards Israel’s major population centers; when Hamas continues launching missiles from Gaza against innocent Israeli citizens; when Syria is engulfed in a bloody civil war between Al Qaeda, jihadist groups and Assad’s Alawites with 30,000 people already killed.
One must ask: Is this a time for “Christians” to call on Congress to limit military support for an embattled Jewish state?
And the utter humbug in which they sanctimoniously couch their approach by claiming that they wish “to help build a peaceful and resilient civil society” and “seeking a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians” – despite many having been at the forefront of BDS campaigns against the Jewish state.
They act as though Israel represents the obstacle to peace talks. Yet PA head Mahmoud Abbas refused to deal with the Israelis even after Netanyahu had implemented an unprecedented 10-month freeze on settlements in a futile effort to bring them to the negotiating table.
The church leaders complained bitterly about the settlements, which beyond the major blocs, amount to a minute proportion of the West Bank. They conveniently overlook the fact that two Israeli Prime Ministers offered the PA virtually the entire West Bank but were rebuffed without even a counter proposal. They also disregard events following the Israeli unilateral withdrawal from Gaza when the areas ceded were transformed into launching pads for hurling missiles deep into Israel.
Nor apparently were “Christian” sensitivities disturbed by the vicious antisemitic incitement and hatred as well as the sanctification of terrorist mass murderers not only by Hamas but also the PA, both of which to this day still deny that there is any Jewish link with Jerusalem.
And, if that were not enough, the bizarre behavior of these Christians is exacerbated by their blindness and insensitivity to what is happening to their own Christian kinsmen in the region. In Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and most Muslim countries, freedom of religion other than Islam is absolutely prohibited. Christians are persecuted and no day passes without reports of pogroms and murders against Christian minorities especially Coptic Christians in Egypt. Tens of thousands of Christians fled Arab countries whenever Islamists assumed control.
Are they not aware of the mandatory death penalty which Islamic jurisprudence imposes on converts from Islam to Christianity or any other religion? Or the death penalty for blasphemy that is repeatedly applied against infidels?
Yet these “Christians” have the gall to call on Congress to restrict military aid to the sole democracy and only country in the region in which Christians and all faiths are guaranteed freedom of worship. A country in which Christians are to be found at every level of Israeli society including the Knesset, the Supreme Court, and academia.
Yet when it is suggested that these Christians are biased against Israel or motivated by anti-Semitism they will indignantly insist that they are merely seeking justice for the oppressed Palestinians suffering under Israeli occupation. They conveniently ignore the fact that granted security, the vast majority of Israelis yearn to separate themselves from the Palestinians and have no wish to rule over them.
To their credit, most American Jewish leaders have responded with indignation and anger at this primitive display of double standards against the Jewish state.
JCPA president Rabbi Steve Gutow accused the signatories of being “out of sync with mainstream values” adding “we eagerly await the day when these church leaders step away from the troubling fixation on hurting Israel and adopt an approach to peacemaking that fosters reconciliation rather than conflict.”
The Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative rabbis, stated that such callous and biased behavior by these Christian groups warrants a reevaluation of their organization’s interfaith activities.
They also assert that aside from the double standards employed in this call to Congress, the timing of such an initiative in the midst of the Jewish holidays and the absence of any prior consultation is an “egregious breach of trust” which challenges the merits of maintaining interfaith dialogue with such hostile groups.
And full marks to Abe Foxman and the Anti-Defamation League who withdrew from an October 22 interfaith event with these groups and called on all other Jewish groups to do likewise.
In a post Holocaust era in which Israel and the Jewish people are no longer powerless, there is no need to humiliate ourselves by sharing platforms with Christian denominations which behave towards us or the Jewish state like their predecessors behaved towards Jews in the Middle Ages.
Fortunately there are numerous other Christians like the many evangelicals who passionately love the Jewish state and Catholics influenced by the Vatican Council’s 1965 Nostra Aetate and who have demonstrated their strong support for Israel.
Isi Leibler is an international Jewish leader and writer living in Jerusalem. This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom.