How can Presbyterians support Israelis and Palestinians?

perspectives - coverIs there an alternative hopeful and humanizing perspective from which to view and engage the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? The Ecumenical and Interreligious Work Group (EIWG) of the Presbytery of Chicago proposes one in this paper as a contribution to the current discussion regarding the variety of positions within the Presbyterian Church (USA) towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The EIWG drafted this discussion paper in active dialogue with persons associated with local Jewish, Palestinian Muslim and Christian communities, and various entities within the Presbyterian Church (USA). Included are responses to the discussion paper from eight unique and often conflicting perspectives, illustrating the complexities, and facing up to the incongruities, that continue to make a just and peaceful compromise elusive.

We believe that Presbyterians must fulfill their call to work on behalf of reconciliation. In that spirit, we propose that Presbyterians actively support on-the-ground efforts for self-determination, human rights, and respectful co-existence, in order to create the conditions for an achievable, just and peaceful compromise, and lay the groundwork of the harder task of communal reconciliation, undertaken by, and for, both Palestinians and Israelis.

Full title: Perspectives on Presbyterian Church (USA) Support for a Just and Peaceful Compromise of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Use this Shortlink:


5 Responses to “How can Presbyterians support Israelis and Palestinians?”

  1. Jewish Voice for Peace Says:

    Jewish Voice for Peace’s response to the paper PCUSA Support for a Just and Peaceful Compromise, drafted by Ecumenical and Interreligious Work Group (EIWG):

  2. Gary Rayl Says:

    This proposal reduces the possible unintended consequence of supporting those with antisemitic views. As David Brooks of the N.Y. Times reported, extreme anti Semitic individuals look at sanctions of Israel as an endorsement of their actions taken against Jews. This response takes away the fuel that flame the fires of hate. It removes the very strong action of sanctions. Nations as a prelude to war impose sanctions. The church does not have an armed force, there sanctions are the strongest tool we have, which can be misinterpreted as war against Israel.

  3. Stone Says:

    The response from Jewish Voice for Peace troubles me very much. I’ve now downloaded and read this Chicago Presbytery discussion paper. I find it eminently worthwhile and timely. Thank you. —

    — But the Jewish Voice for Peace response seems to evade entirely the chief argument in the Chicago Paper. I was so disturbed at what seemed deliberate evasion that I submitted some remarks over there. Evidently, such remarks have to await moderation. Fine, and I would be less disturbed by that if there were some other remarks already there……….. There are none! Is that possible, or have there been plenty that have already tackled the same elephant in the living room that I do and not been accepted because answering it would be too awkward.

    Since I view it as pretty likely that my remarks may not be posted, I’m taking the liberty of posting them here as well, because I feel the remarks spotlight a useful rule of thumb in determining which objections to the Chicago paper may have integrity and which ones don’t.



    I find it very odd and distinctly troubling that your response here completely sidesteps a central concern in the Chicago Presbytery Discussion Paper: the two-state idea. Whether you support it or not, to ignore its centrality in the Chicago Discussion Paper that you purportedly address here is to fail to address the Chicago Discussion Paper seriously at all. Why do you evade this aspect of the Discussion Paper’s concerns? I don’t understand.

    It is largely because of the ethical inadequacies in any single-state idea, and the genuine concern that one demographic might simply oppress another, that the Discussion Paper stresses the principle of self-determination instead. Self-determination is the basis on which much of the argument in the Discussion Paper is made. Yet you say not one word about self-determination either.

    Ultimately, you seem here to be more interested in distorting and evading the entire point of the Chicago concerns than in genuinely addressing those aspects in their argument with which you may disagree. An honest disagreement would engage openly with the premises and conclusions with which you disagree and would provide reasons why those premises are misguided. But you’ve done nothing of the kind. Instead, you’ve virtually sidestepped the essential arguments they make entirely.

    It’s passed time for you to address the principle of self-determination for all parties. It’s passed time for you either to spell out how you would or might prefer to guarantee self-determination differently, or conversely, how you would or might view self-determination as irrelevant here and why.

    The kind of evasion you choose here instead is troubling because it suggests you have an additional agenda in mind, one that you choose to be less than forthcoming on, and which leaves readers like me guessing the worst.

    As a Presbyterian myself, I happen to be very disturbed by some of the trends I’m seeing in certain sectors of Presbytery today, and so I view the Chicago Presbytery’s Paper as a welcome brake on those trends. If there is any other path that ensures self-determination as well as the two-state idea, I’d certainly like to know it. Right now, I don’t see anything better than the two-state idea. For the sake of self-determination, I sometimes hope I might see some alternate idea come up as strong for self-determination as the two-state idea. But try as I might, I’ve never seen that yet, and certainly not from groups supportive of B.D.S. So far, I’ve seen nothing from such groups but wholesale condemnation of one side with no ideas for establishing a long — and fair — peace at all.

    In sum, it is absurd that right in the Chicago paper we see a whole section entitled “Advocating for a Two-State Compromise”, while other groups — and this now includes you, unfortunately — evade entirely any obligation to address just which compromise might be best for the future. Where are you coming from? Why do you avoid the moral imperative for self-determination? How have you addressed this Chicago paper at all if you refuse to even mention the two-state idea? What are you afraid of?


  4. Robert Ross on Mondoweiss Says:

    ‘We know best how to liberate you’ — the misguided attack on Presbyterian divestment:

  5. Laura Cathey Says:

    View more responses:

    “Support for a Just and Peaceful Compromise” endorsed as a “third way” approach in a Commissioners’ Resolution at the 221st PCUSA General Assembly:

    Five critical responses:

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