Op-Ed: Mainline American Christians Against Israel

Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld – Arutz Sheva
Published: Monday, July 08, 2013 8:07 AM

Manfred Gerstenfeld interviews Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein of the Wiesenthal Center:
“They claim to support the underdog against ‘powerful and evil Israel.’”

“The leadership of most American ‘mainline’ Protestant churches is top-heavy with anti-Israel agitation, especially among those on mission committees. By now, a substantial number of their members have been influenced by anti-Israel rhetoric. Furthermore, younger members, due to anti-Israel attitudes on campus, are increasingly hostile to Israel. If the Palestinians make further progress here, it will be a great blow to the self-understanding of America as ‘firmly in Israel’s camp.’

“These very liberal churches include Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and the United Church of Christ. They presently number about 16 million. Their membership and influence in the United States continue to decline. These churches’ rhetoric is usually outdone by an even harsher one of a small group of so-called ‘peace churches,’ including the Mennonites and Quakers.”

Rabbi Yitchok Adlerstein is the Director of Interfaith Affairs at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. He is the Adjunct Chair, Jewish Law and Ethics at Loyola Law School. He is the Founding Editor of the Jewish Orthodox blog Cross-Currents.

“Mainline churches claim many members from Congress. They represent America’s heartland and have adopted a range of resolutions hostile to Israel. They include calls for boycotts plus divestment and sanctions (BDS). Some are aimed at Israel, others focus on the ‘settlements.’ Several churches supported the hateful Kairos Palestine Document published in 2009 by some Palestinian Christians. There is also tourism to Israel under Palestinian auspices.

“BDS started with the passage of a resolution in 2004 at the Presbyterian Church (USA) calling for selective divestment of shares of American companies doing business in Israel. Long before that, the World Council of Churches (WCC) founded in 1948, aligned itself with ‘third world’ countries and thinking. This is an international umbrella group of mainline churches which claims denominational membership of 590 million people. It has frequently condemned Israel, yet never protested attempts by Israel’s neighbors and by terrorists to erase it from the map.

“The churches’ salaried officials often harm Israel, without a specific mandate from a convention floor. For example, in fall 2012 just before the U.S. presidential elections, a consortium of church officials sent a letter to members of Congress questioning how U.S. military aid was being used by Israel, and calling for cutbacks in that aid.

“Several of these churches also publish extremely anti-Israel educational materials. These are often the only ones members will view. The Methodists produced a study guide a few years ago authored by an apostate Jewish pastor. He admitted to hating Judaism. It featured illustrations of Israeli soldiers reminiscent of Nazi guards at a concentration camp.

Easter message 2001: ‘It seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him.

“The motives of these churches differ. Some aim to delegitimize the State of Israel as ‘a colonialist enterprise conceived in sin.’ Others desire to give Christian witness to the lack of peace in the Holy Land. These churches have discarded much of their grandparents’ beliefs and practices, retaining sympathy only for the powerless. In defending the Palestinians, they claim to support the underdog against ‘powerful and evil Israel.’

“Theology is playing an increasing role in mainline churches’ anti-Israel activity. It began with the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center and its head, Dr. Naim Ateek. Many liberal churches have partnered with Sabeel. Ateek used crucifixion imagery in his Easter message of 2001: ‘It seems to many of us that Jesus is on the cross again with thousands of crucified Palestinians around him.’

” This reintroduces the ancient murderous Christian charge of deicide against the Jews. Ateek and others deny that the Bible speaks of any covenant of land with the Jews. This is a renewal of the replacement theology and supersessionism, and is extremely dangerous for Jews around the world, especially at a time of rising anti-Semitism.

“Palestinian influences in anti-Israel hate mongering is huge. They have sent teams of Palestinian Christians around the U.S for a decade, tugging at Christian heartstrings with emotional tales of woe. They are more effective than Palestinian Muslims, who don’t come as ‘brothers.’

“Still, there are surprises. In 2012, several denominations substituted positive investment resolutions in place of divestment. In some cases, votes that looked like they were heading in the anti-Israel direction were saved by impassioned speeches by pastors who spoke about the impact such a resolution would have on Jewish-Christian friendships and partnerships in their churches.

“I frequently converse with friends in churches, pondering the sundry causes of anti-Israel sentiment. When I attribute much to the misdirection of Christian love, I am often interrupted by someone saying: ‘Rabbi, I wish it were true. There is far more old-fashioned anti-Semitism in this church than any of us would like to admit.’”

“The actions of these mainline churches have poisoned the well of Christian-Jewish dialogue. Jews entered the dialogue, which has been fruitful at times, on the basis of assurances that Christian partners left contempt for Jews and Judaism behind, and had made serious attempts to understand what was important to Jews. The way in which these churches treat Israel shows that neither is true.”

About author: The writer has been a long-term adviser on strategy issues to the boards of several major multinational corporations in Europe and North America.He is board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and recipient of the LIfetime Achievement Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism

10 comments on “Op-Ed: Mainline American Christians Against Israel

  1. tannngl says:

    This antisemitism, especially from Christian churches is horrible. The Jewish people are a gift to the world. God’s gift to us. Not withstanding God’s Son who came through these amazing people.
    When you get time just look up the accomplishments and developments in medicine, science of these Jewish people.
    Hey, did you know Levi Strauss was Jewish? 😀 Your jeans are from this small ethnic group of people.


    • bullright says:

      Tannngl, Thanks great comment. Right. And the early church and apostles were mostly Jewish. Even seeing and knowing it, I just don’t understand this animosity. I don’t know if he addresses Catholics or the Roman Church elsewhere..


  2. pepperhawk says:


    I sure do agree with your assessment. I have a very good friend who lives in Israel and from her I hear what never is printed in the news or spoken. The Israelis are way ahead in many technical and medical advances as you pointed out.

    But, besides that there is no evil against the Palestinians. Israel gives them all kinds of aid, including water, sewage, all kinds of material for construction and tools for them to create a functioning market place to help them support themselves. They also give them money aid. But, these people take that money and buy weapons instead to use against the Israelis.

    If there is any evil going on it’s with these muzzies. They hate the Jews and only want them wiped off the map.

    Along with you, I find these churches an abomination with their antisemitism. That is not a true Christian in my book.


    • bullright says:

      Pepp, I agree, the more you look the more wrong it is. I am amazed, but no longer surprised, what the churches are doing. It is a unified effort which is even worse. I have close ties with one above mentioned. It almost feels like a dagger. I want to just say, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”, but in another breath they do know what they are doing. I’m not sure if they even know why though. It doesn’t make much sense.


      • pepperhawk says:


        I am shocked too about these churches and their attitude which makes no sense to me either. As to whether they know what they are doing is only something they can know or not know. I guess God will deal with them as He sees fit.

        The one thing I only can say is that this would not be my definition of a true Christian or showing love in their hearts, but hatred, and for what reason? I can’t figure that one out.


    • tannngl says:

      I was in Israel in 2010 for a 2 week tour. In Jerusalem I took a tumble into the street. My fellow tour members just stood there. A Jewish man ran across the street, helped me to my feet and practically carried me to the sidewalk and out of the street. These people are very caring.

      I have a friend who lives north of the Sea of Galilee. He is Jewish and became a Christian, praise God! He said the Arabs in his area get along with the Jewish citizens as good neighbors do. On the local level, they have no problems.

      Why in the world do Christian churches behave this way? Do they drink the kool aid?
      Pepperhawk, thanks for your comment to me.


      • pepperhawk says:


        Thank you for your reply.

        You got it exactly right as my friend tells her story also. She also stated that in Jerusalem there is no trouble between them for the most part.

        Your description of their good neighbor behavior is spot on. The Jewish people are generous, helpful, and share among themselves what another might not have but needs.

        I don’t understand this either by so called Christians The only thing I can figure is they have fallen for the Palestinians’ lies that they are being crucified by the Israel’s. That is a complete lie and a trick they use all the time.

        My friend told me about how, after an Israeli attack to try to stop the carnage from them, the Palestinians fake death and injuries by lying on top of truchs, ambulances, whatever is available for the cameras and jump off quite alive and well after the cameras are gone.

        We must always remember that in the Koran they are told to lie. And they lie about everything.


      • bullright says:

        Tannngl: nice comment. There are a lot of Jews in this area and they have their own ems, firefighters etc, some of the best first responders. (emphasis on first)


  3. bullright says:

    What is really a tragedy is seeing this criticism and how they apply it so broadly to Jews and Israel. Their charges about human rights abuses, which is what these churches did, really offends me. Jewish women run some of the best senior and patient care organizations in America, getting people to and from doctors to finding help for people. That seems to be humanities across the spectrum. Then to call Jews out for that leaves you scratching your head.


  4. […] tale truth. Yet we see the Bishops or officials, or statements emphasizing the GBLTQ agenda taking anti-Israel positions, and the BDS(boycott divest sanction) platform they are […]



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