Senior members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) last week pushed back against a study guide recently published by one of its subsidiaries that attacks Zionism (both Christian and Jewish) as the source of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Last month, the Israel Palestine Mission Network, an affiliated non-profit that falls under the PC(USA)'s umbrella, published the study guide "Zionism Unsettled," along with a companion DVD documentary.
The guide attacks Zionism as a supremacist interpretation of the Bible, and accuses mainstream Jewish groups of a conspiracy to silence criticism of Israel. It also chastises Christians for supporting a theology that it says is akin to the Christian beliefs that "contributed to the Nazi Holocaust, the genocide of Native Americans, and countless other instances of tragic brutality."
Needless to say, the publication of "Zionism Unsettled" was deeply concerning for the many Jews who had begun to see Christians as genuine and natural allies, following centuries of overt Christian anti-Semitism.
In a statement released to the media, the leadership of the PC(USA) sought to put those concerns to rest by distancing itself from "Zionism Unsettled," if not from the authors.
"The Israel Palestine Mission Network booklet was neither paid for nor published by the Presbyterian Church (USA)," the statement read.
For some Jewish leaders, that wasn't good enough, since the Israel Palestine Mission Network falls fully under the administrative umbrella of the PC(USA).
But other Presbyterian leaders stepped in to clarify that "Zionism Unsettled" not only doesn't reflect the views of the Church's mainstream membership, it is strongly rejected by those who truly love the Jewish people.
"My first response to my friends in the Jewish community with whom I associate on a monthly basis in a Jewish-Presbyterian dialogue group is to assure them that this does not represent even close to a majority opinion," Rev. Mike Cole, a Houston-area Presbyterian leader, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Rev. Katharine Rhodes Henderson, president of New York's Auburn Theological Seminary, added that "this document purports to be about love, but it actually expresses demonization, distortion and imbalance."
In related news, a delegation of 14 Presbyterian leaders from America were in Israel last week to get to know the Jewish state so as to better relate to the arguments and propaganda surrounding her.
Of note, the Presbyterian delegation visited the SodaStream factory in the Jewish settlement of Maaleh Adumim that was the focus of so much media attention prior to the Super Bowl.
When SodaStream contracted Hollywood super star Scarlett Johansson as its new spokesperson, anti-Israel groups looking to boycott the Jewish state threw a fit, prompting Johansson to stop her work with one such group in particular - Oxfam.
According to Israel National News, the Presbyterian leaders couldn't see what all the fuss was about, and agreed with Johansson that SodaStream's location in the so-called "West Bank" as an Israeli business providing jobs to hundreds of Palestinians is actually good for peace.