Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East ("Fair Witness") strongly criticizes a revised statement issued by the United Methodist Church, General Board of Global Ministries ("GBGM") regarding Israel-Palestine: A Mission Study, published last year by the Women's Division. Fair Witness is now especially troubled by GBGM's pretense that condemnation of this book is premised on a belief that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic.
"We wholeheartedly agree with the GBGM that it is not anti-Semitic to raise questions about Israeli policies and we welcome informed and fair discussion of these issues," says Rev. Dr. L. T. Archer Summers, Senior Minister, First United Methodist Church, Palo Alto, California and Fair Witness Executive Committee member. "The Mission Study, however, presents an historical narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict which is filled with factual misrepresentations, omissions and distortions all rather clearly aimed at making Israel appear to be the sole cause of conflict in the region. I fail to see, for example, how the GBGM justifies omitting virtually any discussion of the Second Intifada in its history. Criticizing the security barrier and other restrictive measures Israel has imposed on the Palestinians is fair game -- but not if you try to create the impression that these measures were undertaken in a vacuum and ignore the Palestinian terrorism that preceded them."
Fair Witness also remains deeply concerned by the anti-Semitic prism through which the Mission Study approaches the Arab Israeli conflict.
"The Mission Study reinforces racist stereotypes with, for example, depictions of Jews as 'arrogant and aggressive,' and reference to 'religious racism' being inherent in Rabbinic Judaism," states Rev. Summers.
Perhaps the worst offense committed by the Mission Study is its exploitation of the Holocaust which it claims resulted in an "attendant rage" and "paranoiac sense of isolation" amongst Israelis and "has contributed significantly to preventing Israel from making peace with its Arab neighbors."
"Using a tragic episode in Jewish collective life as a tactical weapon in the PR war against Israel is inexcusable. The Mission Study is a shameful book and we fail to understand this continued defense by an agency of the United Methodist Church of that which is indefensible," concludes Rev. Summers.FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 8, 2008
Contact: Christians For Fair Witness on the Middle East