By Rick Jacobs
NEW YORK (RNS) Some 2,000 years ago, a prospective Jew in ancient Israel asked Rabbi Hillel to teach him the whole Torah while standing on one foot. Hillel responded: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is commentary.“ Later, Jesus uttered similar words during his Sermon on the Mount.
Love is at the core of the Jewish and Christian faiths. And for the love of God, we must address a looming rupture between us regarding Israel.
Let me be clear: Israel is not immune from criticism. On the contrary, we hold it to a godly standard of justice. We also firmly hold that our own people’s liberation, exemplified in Israel, should not come at the expense of the Palestinian people who deserve to live in freedom and dignity, in an independent state where they can thrive and escape the decades of war and animosity. We believe in a Palestinian state next to Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people and its citizens.
Unfortunately, the recent document, “Zionism Unsettled,” produced by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA), takes us farther from this goal. In “Unsettled,“ released in January, the IPMN makes its case clearly: Zionism is at the heart of the problem, destroying both native Palestinian lives and thriving Jewish communities around the world in a supremacist misinterpretation of God’s Word, on par with “Christian exceptionalist beliefs (that) contributed to the Nazi Holocaust, the genocide of Native Americans, and countless other instances of tragic brutality.” The document is profoundly disturbing for its distortion of history and theology.