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Op-Ed: World Council of Churches preaches divestment
By David Frankfurter

The World Council of Churches has long adopted thinly disguised extremist Palestinian positions. Monday was no exception. The WCC issued a press release calling for the application of economic sanctions against Israel, on a personal, parish and international level.

The timing could not be more peculiar. Just when there seems to be a broad consensus that we stand on the threshold of a narrow window of opportunity for peace which must be very carefully nurtured. The leaders of Israel and the Palestinians have met, created a respite in a long and bloody war, and pledged a path to peace. One might have expected the WCC to encourage this process. Each positive step is to be applauded, the other side encouraged to recognise it and take their own step to keep up the momentum. And yet, the WCC complains of "occupation". Just when Israel's parliament approved the next stage of plans for withdrawal Gaza. A major gesture was made to the emerging Palestinian democracy, with hundreds of convicted terrorists freed from Israeli jails. The WCC complains of housing demolitions just a few days after the IDF announced that this practice will no longer be employed. The WCC uses the emotive language of a "dividing wall", when 95% is a chain-link fence, without mentioning the horrible terror that forced Israel to build it. The WCC sets the borders of Israel as those of the 1949 armistice - knowing full well that even the Palestinian Authority accepts the borders of Israel as the 1967 cease-fire line. And then they have the temerity to pay lip service to Israel's "serious and legitimate security concerns". And speaking of lip service, the WCC claims to be "supportive of both Palestinians and Israelis who suffer under current circumstances". Two of my closest friends have lost children in the horrible violence unleashed by Arafat. I have not heard through them of a single family of a Jewish terror victim having had any even minimal contact by the WCC, let alone the offer of comfort or support.

I was brought up in a nominally Christian country. While my generation of Jews took the pledge "Never Again" very seriously and would not countenance any indignity, our Christian friends would try to salve the wounds of anti-Semitism and counsel us to "turn the other cheek". These friends explained that the Christian religion of peace and rapprochement was far superior to the strict law and justice of Judaism. And yet the WCC, while frequently using the word peace, rejects rapprochement and commends "initiatives within churches to become better stewards of justice".

You may wonder about this seemingly old-Testament call for divestment from Israel. The WCC explains that its call for action is, in fact, based on a verse on the New Testament - Luke 19:42. I went to look it up, and noticed that the New King James Version Bible seemed very different from the quote by the WCC. Not being a theologian, I will have to accept that the words: Saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes." call [for WCC] members to do the "things that make for peace". If I had not had the WCC guidance, I would have interpreted the verse differently. Especially in the overall context of the verses where Jesus comes to a hill and is overwhelmed as he catches site of Jerusalem, with the above words addressed to Jerusalem itself. Jesus weeps as he foresees the day when the holy city will be encircled, besieged and leveled by her enemies. He then goes to banish the traders from the Temple. I would have seen this verse as a prediction of the destruction of the Temple by the Romans. Certainly, though, if I were to believe that the verses should be interpreted in a modern day context, I would not wish to be on the side of those who encircle and besiege Jerusalem - economically or physically.

I am left to wonder if the WCC is not simply concerned that the current peace moves may succeed, and that a Jewish Israel might become a permanent and hard to explain fixture on their theological map.

© David Frankfurter 2005. All rights reserved
© 2005 Divestment Watch