The following editorial appears in the August 2006 issue of Christianity Today. It has not been updated since July 10, and events in the Middle East have progressed significantly since then.
At this writing, the Israeli government and the "house divided against itself" that tries to represent the Palestinian people are locked in a lose-lose struggle. Israel responded to missile attacks and a kidnapping with a major incursion into the Gaza Strip, resulting in more than 50 civilian deaths. Hamas is eagerly capitalizing on the resulting resentment.
But as just one hot spot on a globe full of brush fires, Israel has attracted far more than its share of criticism. American churches have not hesitated to pile on. A 2004 report from the Institute on Religion and Democracy showed that mainline Protestants criticized Israel for human-rights abuses at a rate far exceeding most other nations. Only the United States came close to Israel's infamy in this activist universe.
Strangely, repressive Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia and Syria received no criticism at all. The IRD study asked "whether anti-Jewish animus may play some role in the churches' skewed human-rights advocacy."
But two events this summer suggest that Israel and the Jewish community are starting to get more respect.
First, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) changed its 2004 action calling for "phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel." By an overwhelming vote, it created a substitute policy that urged the denomination to be sure that its financial investments "as they pertain to Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, be invested in only peaceful pursuits" and to look for "positive outcomes." Thus, ...1
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