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Presbyterians Send Anti-Israel Valentine to Congregations in 'Zionism Unsettled'

"Jewish groups rightfully are upset." -- Mark Tooley, IRD President

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- A new study guide for congregations released by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that describes Zionism as inherently discriminatory toward non-Jews is stirring up fears in America's largest Presbyterian denomination.

"Zionism Unsettled" has already come under heavy criticism by the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, among others.

While the IPMN is technically an independent entity, the organization was created by an action of the PCUSA General Assembly in 2004 and is closely linked with the 2.4 million-member denomination.

Activists have promoted a three-pronged strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, specifically calling for church agencies to divest themselves of holdings in Motorola Solutions, Hewlett Packard and Caterpillar, which all sell non-lethal equipment used by the Israeli military.

Church activists unsuccessfully pushed for divestment at the United Methodist General Conference and Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly in 2012. The issue will again come before the 221st General Assembly held from June 14-21 in Detroit, Michigan.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

    "The new semi-official Presbyterian anti-Israel resource illustrates the focused animus of many oldline church elites and activists against Jewish Israel.

    "Jewish groups rightfully are upset. But Christian groups and all persons of good will interested in basic fairness should also be upset that once again a venerable church tradition is squandering its moral capital on a malevolent cause.

    "While Presbyterian and other church bodies remain almost completely silent about global persecution of Christians, antisemitism, and widespread human rights abuses especially against free speech and religious liberty, they oddly obsess over Israel's transgressions, real and imagined. Their chronic anti-Israel advocacy, ostensibly waged on behalf of Palestinians, in reality does nothing to help Palestinians and only reinforces a self-defeating sense of Palestinian victim-hood and grievance that only further, unending conflict can assuage.

    "Hopefully the outrageous exaggerations, distortions and animosity of this latest resource will discredit the anti-Israel cause among Presbyterians and ensure defeat of the anti-Israel divestment initiative coming before the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly this summer."