Israel (The People) Has A Responsibility for Israel (The State)
Rabbi Gary S. Creditor
May 14th, 2010
As many as will hear these words at our Shabbat services, I am thankful that many more will receive them on our synagogue's listserv. I write this to call your attention and as a call to action. I really need much more time that allotted for this evening. I truly wish that it was Yom Kippur and I was speaking to the whole congregation face to face.
Two weeks ago I issued a rhetorical challenge: If Israel did not exist, who would follow a Theodor Herzl - a pied piper with a pipe dream - to create it? One hundred and twenty-five years ago we had nothing. Pogroms were raging in Eastern Europe. The Holocaust was on the distant horizon. Today we have a State. Sixty-two years ago the United Nations called it into being. Can anybody here imagine living as a Jew today without having the State of Israel? How precious an entity! How fragile an existence! But that existence is threatened from within and from without, from nearby and from far away, by those who hate it, despise it and actively seek to destroy it, and by those who seek to do good, but could also lead to Israel's destruction. It is hard to tell the players without a scorecard! We don't live in Israel. We won't serve in Tzahal. We won't pay their taxes. We won't elect their government. We don't have to agree with any specific Israeli policy, and there are many with which I vehemently disagree. But as Jews, as Am Yisrael, as Goy Echad – one people, we have a vested interest, we have an existential consequence, we have an obligation, we have a sacred duty to do our part as part of world Jewry to protect and defend Medinat Yisrael. It is not my intention to whitewash anything. Sometimes Israel needs to be saved from itself, from illegal settlements, and as the current tussle over a proposed Conversion Law in the Knesset. Sometimes it is from others, Iran, Hamas, boycotts of Israeli professors. Tonight I specifically focus on the actions of the Presbyterian Church USA.
You will not currently find this on the front page of any newspaper; but it will get there.
You might discount its importance. That will be lying to ourselves.
You might ignore it.
But at the peril of having sinned against all our forbearers and all our history,
and against our destiny.
Background: Presbyterian Church USA created a special committee (MESC) – the Middle East Study Commission because they believe that they have a religiously driven necessity to fix the world, and specifically, peace between Israel and the Palestinians. They have issued a 179 page report that I have read and reread which will be placed for adoption in their July convention.
I don't know the size of the Presbyterian Church.
I have no personal interest in or knowledge of their particular theology.
I can't say for sure that this document will be adopted. I pray not.
I can't say for sure that this document will absolutely change American policy and detrimentally affect Medinat Yisrael.
But, I am absolutely sure that it is an enormous threat and has inherent power to destabilize American support for Israel and delegitimize Israel as a constituent country among the nations of the world.
I do not know who here in synagogue understands the issue of divestment, but this far exceeds that. [Divestment in this context means that organizations/companies should not invest in a company, remove their investment funds in companies that invest in Israeli companies, not do business with a company that trades, does business or in any way contributes to the economic activity of the State of Israel. Thus because of its potential harm to the economic fabric it is a lever to use concerning its political policies.]
To distill this extensive document down to its essence, in one language or another – you have to read carefully, this is what it says:
1. That Israel is a delegitimate entity that neither the League of Nations nor the United Nations had the right to create.
2. That Israel was only created because of the Holocaust and the Arab Palestinians are paying for it.
3. That tracing our roots to the land throughout the Bible and the course of Jewish history is worthless. We have no claim to any part of the land of Israel.
4. Nevertheless, with a fundamentalist reading of the Bible, Israel should behave according to it. No one else has to act that way!
5. That the true and rightful inhabitants of Palestine are the Arabs.
6. That it is the fault of the Jews for all the violence that has occurred.
7. That the occupation of the all areas since the Six Day War is a sin against God.
8. That the United States should completely reverse its support for the State of Israel by withholding financial and political aid until Israel complies with resolutions from the United Nations, no matter how one-sided, anti-Semitic, racist and suicidal they will be.
9. That companies should follow BDS – boycott, divest and sanctions against Israel.
10. That the conditions in Gaza are all Israel's fault.
11. That terrorism against Israeli civilians is legitimate.
12. That the problems of Christian Arabs, of which there are many, are Israel's fault.
I will admit that I have reduced their report to very evocative language. I fully intended to do so. I need to get your attention! Even if they don't use this exact language, do not delude yourselves: this is what they are saying. This did not begin with the Presbyterian Church. This has been going on for a long time. There is along history against the creation of the State of Israel, against support of the State of Israel, and most recently the humiliation of the leader of the State of Israel. It most recently played itself out as USC Berkeley where Menachem our son waded into a room, one of the few defenders of Medinat Yisrael in a hostile environment. The PCUSA document is entitled "Breaking Down the Walls," a term taken from the New Testament book of Ephesians 2:14 which refers to the breaking down of Judaism. Who knows why they took this title? This document follows from one placed on the website of the World Council of Churches entitled "The Kairos Palestine Document" of 2009 which used the name of a 1985 document written against the then South African government and its apartheid government, which eventually world pressure brought down. They seek the same against Israel. This is no laughing, no passing, no glancing matter.
The purpose of these remarks is to make those present and those on the listserv aware of these matters and shake your complacency and make you aware of the unfolding scenario. In the printed edition of this sermon are embedded links to the USCJ, CCAR and PCUSA for you to read materials first hand.
We are informed that on the local level many members of Presbyterian churches do not share these positions.
We need to reinforce them in their true support of Medinat Yisrael and have them vocalize that in their churches.
We need to indicate how strongly we support the existence of Medinat Yisrael, even when we are advocates of change of policies.
We need to say clearly that the adoption of this report as policy would be thoroughly disruptive to Jewish – Christian relations, as least with the Presbyterian Church, which we do not desire, but rather to be partners in improving the world.
We proclaim for all to hear that from the essence of our souls we are most committed that the third Jewish Commonwealth, Medinat Yisrael, standing proudly and forthrightly among the family of nations, is the national liberation of the Jewish people, is the natural and proper fulfillment of our 3,500 years of history rooted in the soil in which it was born, in which it lived, whose footprints appear under every rock and stone.
Israelis and Palestinians, Muslims, Christians and Jews have been partners in suffering.
If all so will it, they can be partners in peace.
This document, this approach, this attitude is not the way.
Am Yisrael Chai. Medinat Yisrael Chai, and as Helen Zimm always adds after an aliyah, "forever and ever."
Posted By Rabbi Gary Creditor to Rabbi Gary Creditor's Blog at 5/13/2010 04:15:00 PM