Friday, May 5, 2006

The Presbyterian group travelling the Holy Land on a "fact finding" and "peace" mission (see below: Presbyterian Group Meets All the Usual Suspects) seems to be wrapping up...and coming to the desired conclusions.

...[Bishop Dr. Munib Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land] spoke passionately, encouraging the group to be a witness to Christians in the Middle East and the United States. Younan feels that the United States and Israel are sending a message that democracy is a failure. He cited the example that 77% of the Palestinian people voted in the last election, yet in the aftermath, the United States has cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel is withholding sales tax revenues and custom duties on products entering the Palestinian territories from the PA. In so doing, "you send a message that democracy is a failure, and that is a crisis in politics," the Bishop stated.

Younan asked rhetorically, "What does the Middle East want? Democracy or justice?"...

...After the Bishop spoke, conference participants gathered in groups of eight for discussion. This was an intentionally different configuration from the presbytery teams. The groups were asked to consider: a question they have been pondering, a new insight they have gained, and the best idea they had heard for how to implement their learnings from the trip. Comments made during their reports back to the full group included:

  • Bring Palestinians to the United States to share their culture [Like this?]
  • Visit your congressman urging their support of Palestine
  • Email or write to commissioners of the 217th General Assembly (2006) urging support of divestment
  • Start an olive oil cooperative
  • De-bunk the myth that the region is dangerous
  • When presenting material be intentional not to talk to like-minded people. In other words, challenge yourself not to "preach to the choir."

Update: Wow. Just when you think you've read it all. You can get a sense of the ability of some of the participants to apply context by reading a couple of the notes home written by one participant, Arthur Suggs, a PC(USA) minister from New York. No need to fisk these, you can read them for yourselves.

Entering Jerusalem, an American’s experience

...I got lost in Jerusalem about a dozen times. The other thing I tried to do was when I was lost, I approached the most intimidating looking group of men I could see - usually 3 or 4 big young Arabs, Palestinians, or Israeli soldiers (every blasted one of them armed to the teeth, AK-47 and side arm and baton). And asked them for directions...

Israeli soldiers, of course, don't carry AK-47's. And here:

The Palestinian experience, an American’s perspective

The plight of the Palestinians is heartbreaking. The Israeli’s murder somewhere between 1 to 2 per week, usually young males. This last week, they stripped the dead body and dragged it completely around the city behind the jeep. You can imagine...

No, I can't. I'd like to know how he came upon that story. Look, I'm always very careful in doubting any horror story I hear, after all, a lot of things are possible. Israelis are, after all, human (imagine!). They lie, they steal, they murder, they rape...but not systematically, not as a matter of course, and not in a way to separate them particularly from any other society, even American society. Nevertheless, aberrations occur. Still, I'll break my usual policy of caution here and go way out on a limb to say, that... incident... did... not... happen. Some people will believe anything. You've got to read the rest of that entry to believe it.

...back to the Palestinians, because they are so walled off from therest of society, they are literally beginning to exhibit more birth defects because people are marrying closer in the families.

Actually a common problem in Arab tribal society. In fact I've posted links to articles about that issue cropping up in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Marrying your cousin -- it's a result of the occuPATION!

You folks in the PC(USA) trying to keep your denomination on the right side of sanity have your work cut out for you.


Exhibit #9,034,489,203 as to why Israel has lost the PR war, and why divestment will eventually happen......

Don't forget, the PC(USA)'s numbers are in steep decline, as are all of the denominations that have gotten caught up in Leftist politics, and even among the Presbyterians, the grass-roots is getting very upset about this stuff.

Presbyterian Pastor Arthur Suggs must be competing for the Ron Stone award for the most ridiculous statement that can be made by a Presbyterian while on a tour in the Middle East.

In case you have forgotten Ron Stone. This is what he had to say when the Presbyterians were having tea with the Hezbollah leaders back in Oct 2004.
"“I'd like to say that, according to my recent experience, relations and conversations with Islamic leaders are a lot easier than dealings and dialogue with Jewish leaders."

I left a politely skeptical comment on Suggs' insane ravings, that seems to have been deleted by his son. So much for fact-finding, apparently.

I have no doubt you were polite, and I am not surprised it was removed regardless. I see Ben-David left a couple of comments, we'll see how long they last.

some of our presbyterian friends have very creative imaginations -- perhaps they need to rest in quiet surroundings attended by men and women in white garments.
By the way, I live in Yerushalayim.

Funny how Munib Younan can present democracy and justice as two mutually exclusive things.

As for Suggs, obviously a dupe beyond redemption.

For what it's worth, there are many Presbyterians, including me, an ordained pastor, who find such behavior as described above to be so embarassing that we cringe to have the same denominational name. Some of the activists in my church behave in a way that is close to vomit-inducing.


I really think that most of us who have been watching the Presbyterian attack on Israel, Jews and non-Jews alike, understand that most Presbyterians are reasonable people, not radical activists or outright Israel-haters like Rev. Suggs.

What we non-Presbyterians cannot understand is how the responsible, reasonable Presbyterians we have known in our lives can stand by and allow their church to be hijacked by leaders who seem to us to be ill-informed and ill-judging.


Well, a lot of us have spoken out individually, or formed groups to fight divestment, and many Presbyteries have overtured the General Assembly to rethink its stance. But the national leadership "caste" is very biased against Israel, which makes changing things very difficult.

However, rapidly declining revenues to the national church may eventually force a change, because local congregations are not sending mission dollars to Louisville the way they used to (and of course our declining membership impacts on funding as well).

I guess we'll find out how God will judge us as a church for our position against Israel. I am not optimistic unless we change course.

"Syme: It's a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. You wouldn't have seen the [Newspeak] Dictionary 10th edition, would you Smith? It's that thick. [illustrates thickness with fingers] The 11th Edition will be that [narrows fingers] thick. Winston Smith: So, The Revolution will be complete when the language is perfect? Syme: The secret is to move from translation, to direct thought, to automatic response. No need for self-discipline. Language coming from here [the larynx], not from here [the brain]" -1984 (film)


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