The resolution affirmed by 82% of those voting at the recent triennial gathering of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) calling for an end of all American aid to Israel reminded me once again that to be a Jewish follower of Jesus sometimes requires thick skin.
Writer Elliott Abrams sums up the language in the resolution:
A time bound agreement– so facts on the ground, for example the strength of Hamas or even ISIS in the Palestinian territories would be irrelevant. Stop all construction in East Jerusalem–well, not really; just construction by Jews. “Enable” an independent Palestinian state, as if the only worry about such a state, and its only problems, come from Israel–not poverty, terrorism, corruption, and repression, for example. End military aid to Israel, regardless of the threats it faces from Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Iran, and other enemies of Israel’s and ours.
And of course, these standards and these requirements apply to one single country: Israel. In a world awash in repression and human rights violations, only Israel.
This latest resolution joins a cluster of Christian denominations that have linked arms with the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement. The BDS movement seeks to apply economic pressure on the State of Israel via boycotts of Israeli-made products, divestiture of any financial holdings that could benefit the country, and branding the country as a rogue, human-rights violating state. While the United Methodist Church recently voted to distance itself from this movement, other BDS-supporting denominations have made it their mission to censure Israel in hopes of pushing the country toward their vision for justice in the region.
In my forty-plus years of following Jesus the Jewish Messiah, I’ve run into people from denominations like ELCA who insist Israel is a rogue state. “We like Jewish people,” they’ll tell me. “We just don’t like modern Israel’s politics, and our ears are tuned to the suffering of the Palestinian people.” At best, they’re telling me they may like the idea of Jewish people (“Some of my best friends are Jewish”), but they don’t particularly want Jewish people to live in Israel in any of the bounded land areas on the map since 1948. [Read more]