CHARLOTTE, NC, July 28, 2014 — There is an old saying about not mixing religion with politics when you travel. That’s also good advice in social situations. Apparently the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) didn’t get the memo or, like Barack Obama, they just don’t care.
Recently, a matter of days before the current conflict between Israel and Hamas, the national Presbytery withdrew $21 million in investments from the Jewish nation. Heath Rada, a spokesman for the Presbyterian’s, said the move was made because Israeli actions “harm the Palestinian people.”
Perhaps Presbyterians don’t realize that unprovoked bombs and tunnels from Gaza into Israel can also be devastating and destructive, as well as deadly.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had a quick and accurate response. “You look at what’s happening in the Middle East and I think most Americans understand this, they see this enormous area riveted by religious hatred, by savagery of unimaginable proportions. Then you come to Israel and you see the one democracy that upholds basic human rights, that guards the rights of all minorities, that protects Christians—Christians are persecuted throughout the Middle East. Most Americans understand that Israel is a beacon of civilization and moderation. You know I would suggest to these Presbyterian organizations to fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference. And I would give them two pieces of advice, one is, make sure it’s an armor plated bus, and second, don’t say that you’re Christians.”
Take Netanyahu up on his invitation. It will take less than a few minutes to realize how right he is in his assessment. Israel became a garden created in less than a hundred years built out of the same heap of desert that has remained desolate for centuries in Muslim regions.
Is the Jewish nation perfect? Of course not. Neither is any other country in the world. What Israel is, however, is an island of civilization surrounded by barbarians.
As Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim asks so poignantly, “why is it that self-professed Christians completely ignore the horrific Islamic persecution of fellow Christians in the Middle East, while grandstanding against the Jewish state for trying to defend itself against the same ideology that persecutes Christians?”
Think about this rationally for a moment. Israel was created in 1948 as a result of the extermination of millions of Jews in World War II. At that time, they were given a desolate pile of rocks and sand less than the size of New Jersey that was harsh, brutal and unmanageable.
Israel went to work and turned that land into something desirable. A place where its people could thrive and live in peace.
As someone wrote, “In Israel, scientists at the University of Haifa are studying In-homogeneous tachyon dynamics. The latest scientific invention in the Arab world is a buzzer that goes off when a Muslim falls asleep against his prayer rug.”
In the same year Israel was formed, it was attacked by Arab nations surrounding it. The same thing happened in 1967 and again in 1973. In the process the land mass of Israel grew. Not as a result of aggression on their part, but rather because they were forced to protect themselves from their neighbors.
In each case, the Jews offered to return the land they took in exchange for peace. In fact, they gave back the Sinai Peninsula which is larger than the area of their own country.
The first thing Palestinians did in 2005 when the Israelis handed over the Gaza Strip to them was destroy property that had been created by the Jews.
Today, Israel is demolishing tunnels from Gaza that have been built to infiltrate their territory.
Based on past experience and present knowledge the entire world knows that Israel has the military strength to blow their enemies off the map. Instead they resist.
“Israel is the only nation in the entire Middle East where Arabs have a free and fair vote. Israel allows Israelis of any ethnicity to be elected to the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament – including Arabs. In Israel women can do whatever they please – including leading the state of Israel. In the surrounding Arab nations women are treated as chattel. They’re just property,” says one writer.
Raymond Ibrahim follows that statement by writing, “Sadly, the hypocrisy exhibited by the Presbyterian Church is not limited to that denomination. Some time back, fifteen leaders from various U.S. Christian denominations—mostly Protestant, including the Lutheran, Methodist, and UCC Churches—asked Congress to reevaluate U.S. military aid to Israel, again, in the context of supporting ‘persecuted’ Palestinians.
“If the Presbyterian Church has problems with governments that persecute people, perhaps it should begin by criticizing its own government’s proxy war on fellow Christians in the Middle East.”
In its 14 centuries of existence, Islam has proven that religion and politics don’t mix. In Islam, religion and politics are one in the same. It is one of the guiding foundations of the faith.
Perhaps Presbyterians, and other protestant denominations, would do well to stick to the tenets of Christianity by supporting fellow Christians who are being tortured, maimed, killed and evicted from their homes and stop preaching politics from its pulpits.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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