A New Jersey native, David was born of Jewish parents and became a Christian in college after reading the Bible for the first time.
He holds degrees from Rutgers University and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, N.C.), and he is currently a Doctor of Ministry student at Trinity School for Ministry near Pittsburgh.
This post appeared in a longer form at The Reformed Pastor and is used here by permission. — Ed.
The first to present his case seems right,
till another comes forward and questions him.
An article in Faith in Action, an online publication of the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Church and Society, highlights the recent release of a study guide on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict prepared by the “Palestine-Israel Justice Project” of the Minnesota Annual Conference.
The guide is one of the most appalling things on the subject I’ve ever seen come out of a mainline church.
In the foreword, Bishop Sally Dyck offers this justification for her annual conference developing such a guide:
The curriculum raises the voices and concerns of Palestinian Christians. Why wouldn’t we listen to the voices of our own Christian brothers and sisters, even if their perspectives might be different from ours or challenge us to see this part of the world from their eyes?
It is true that among the materials used is Kairos Palestine (PDF), which was written by Palestinian Christians. But the primary voices heard in this guide aren’t those of Palestinian Christians, but of radical, far left-wing American Christians, anti-Israeli Muslims, and even known anti-Semites.
The introductory session (of eight) demonstrates where the authors are headed.
It is an introduction to the Kairos Palestine document, itself a theologically flawed, historically obtuse, and morally one-sided statement that offers no recognition of either the legitimacy of Israeli self-defense or the reality of terrorism.
Session 2 has to do with United Methodist responses to the conflict (resolutions, agency statement, the Social Principles, etc.), so I’ll let Methodists deal with them.
Session 3 has to do with the “application” of Scripture to the conflict. It lists a slew of verses, broken out into six groups, without offering any context or explanations as to what the connections are.
The first problem is a timeline put together by Churches for Middle East Peace (created by the National Council of Churches). This timeline contains several inaccuracies and demonstrates a pronounced bias, both by what is included and what isn’t. For example:
The timeline is flawed, to be sure, but is hardly the worst thing about these sessions. The worst thing is use of the heavily biased film, Occupation 101, as the primary source of information regarding the history.
Among those who appear in the film:
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) has reviewed this film and summarizes its flaws this way:
Occupation 101‘s worst offense is its twisting of the history and facts of the conflict in order to equate the Palestinian cause with celebrated civil rights struggles around the world. Viewers are led to see the situation of the Palestinians as parallel to black South Africans under apartheid or southern blacks [in the U.S.] during the civil rights era.
To pull this off, a decade of unprecedented terrorism directed at Israelis in their homes, cafes, vehicles and religious festivals is made nearly invisible, severing the connection between Israeli measures — like house demolitions and sweeps through Palestinian villages — and the Palestinian attacks that precipitated them. This is essential to the film’s portrayal of Israeli actions as colonialist aggression rather than as a response to terrorism.
The hate indoctrination that permeates Arab society and produces cadres of young Palestinian suicide bombers groomed in hatred, intolerance and rejection of peaceful coexistence is swept under the carpet.
CAMERA’s review mentions some of the egregious falsehoods of the film:
William Baker, head of Christians and Muslims for Peace, asserts the “first converts to the teachings of Jesus were Palestinians.” The first converts to Christianity were, of course, Jews, just as Jesus himself was Jewish, along with most of his close associates and early followers.
Richard Falk…bizarrely contends that Israel “receives as much foreign economic assistance [from the U.S.] as all the countries combined in the world.”
[Episcopal] Bishop [Allen] Bartlett implies that Israel flattens Palestinian towns to establish settlements on top of them, claiming that settlements are built on “whatever is there, whether it’s roads, whether it’s villages or homes — they’re bulldozed and new town is built.” This is complete invention; Israeli settlements have never been built on top of Palestinian homes and villages.
Jeff Halper, a fringe detractor of Israel, contends that Israeli policy is meant to ensure “most of the land is free for Israeli settlement” and “to make the Palestinians leave the territories… it’s a kind of ethnic cleansing.” In reality, Israeli communities comprise only a small percentage of West Bank land and the supposedly “ethnically cleansed” Palestinian population has increased from 947,000 in June, 1967 to over four million today.
Session 6 and Session 7 in the United Methodist study guide focus on a selective reading of international law, including documents such as the Fourth Geneva Convention (only excerpts of which are included).
Finally, in Session 8, participants are encouraged to join activist groups. All of the groups listed, not surprisingly, come from the same perspective.
It is regrettable that the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church has produced a study guide on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to be little more than a propaganda piece that attempts to indoctrinate participants in a leftist, anti-Zionist view of Middle East politics.
Any United Methodist who cares about Israel — as well as about equity, justice, and truth — should speak up about this resource. Let the Minnesota Conference (and the General Board of Church and Society) know what you think of their efforts.
Related articles and information
|•||Targeting Israel | Mark Tooley, Front Page Magazine (via IRD) (Oct. 29, 2010)|
|•||Christians bankroll Palestinian liberation | Mark Tooley, Front Page Magazine (Dec. 3, 2008)|
|•||Religious Left did not always despise Israel | Mark Tooley, Christian Post (July 29, 2008)|
|•||United Methodist church groups targeting Israel | Institute on Religion and Democracy (March 4, 2008)|
|•||Film Review: Occupation 101 | Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (Jan. 5, 2008)|