Syria and Israel: PCUSA Double Standard at Work
Next weekend, the Presbyterian Church (USA) will begin its 2012 General Assembly. Among the most contentious issues will be the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and how to respond to it. Activists both Presbyterian and non-Presbyterian (even non-Christian) will be bringing all kinds of pressure to bear for the PCUSA to boycott Israeli products and divest from companies that deal with Israel. A great deal of harsh rhetoric—comparing Israel to Nazi Germany perhaps, as happened at the recent United Methodist General Conference—will be thrown around. Eleven different resolutions—with titles such as “On Recognizing that Israel’s Law and Practices Constitute Apartheid Against Palestinian People” and “On Boycotting Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories and Hadiklaim (an Israeli Date Growers Cooperative)”—have been introduced (most, though not all, anti-Israel).
Then there’s Syria.
Over the past year-and-a-half, thousands have been killed as the Syrian military has ben let loose against a largely defenseless population. Whole neighborhoods have been destroyed, and weapons including tanks, artillery, and bomber aircraft have been used indiscriminately against civilians. Islamists backed by al-Qaeda have killed plenty more. Yet only two resolutions so much as mention Syria. One is in the context of a report about the Arab Spring, and the other a general update about human rights worldwide. And then there’s this, a statement put out last Wednesday by the denomination’s General Assembly Mission Council, one of the major program agencies of the PCUSA:
Our Christian friends continue to endure great suffering — along with all the Syrian people — under the escalating violence between the Assad regime and armed opposition groups. The international community seems unable to agree on ways to bring the violence to a halt or to find a path of engagement that can lead to a peaceable resolution of the conflict. UN observers in Syria recently came under direct attack, resulting in the suspension of the United Nations Supervision Mission in Syria on June 16, 2012. This suspension is being reviewed on a daily basis.
As believers in Jesus Christ, who declare that our God is “able to find a way when there is no way,” we must go to God in prayer on behalf of all who are suffering and ask for wisdom as to how we might provide comfort and support.
And what actions in response to the slaughter in Syria does the GMAC recommend? Prayer for Syrian Christians, reading about the situation, giving to humanitarian relief, and to call on the U.S. government to do this:
We can ask our government to support a mediated process of cessation of violence by all perpetrators, including the Assad regime and armed opposition groups, to call for all outside parties to cease all forms of intervention in Syria, and to refrain from any military intervention in Syria, which we understand, in this case, will be certain to result in more loss of lives and lead to adverse outcome to the Syrian people and the region.
Feel free to compare and contrast, and to reflect on why so many supporters of Israel see anti-Semitism at work when Israel and other nations are held to such widely divergent standards (in this case, the PCUSA is unable to even so much as state what the Assad regime has been doing to its own people, or to unequivocally condemn the perpetrators).
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