A group commissioned by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to promote “a just peace in Israel/Palestine” publishes a study guide that includes depictions of Zionism as a heresy at the root of the Middle East crisis.
Meanwhile, a major governing body recommends that the church pull its investments in three corporations linked to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands.
The two actions, while taking place separately in recent weeks, drew praise from advocates for Palestinians but have combined to roil already-tense relations between Presbyterians and Jews, both locally and nationally.
Representatives of Pittsburgh Presbytery — one of the denomination’s largest regional bodies in the nation — met with local Jewish leaders late last week to talk over the controversies.
“We rediscovered what we already knew, which is our fundamental agreement on the two-state solution to the problem, and our fundamental agreement that the Palestinian situation is intolerable as it is and needs to be corrected,” said the Rev. Sheldon Sorge, general minister for the presbytery.
The study guide, “Zionism Unsettled,” while not an official church declaration, represents the work of a group created by the denomination 10 years ago. The illustrated 72-page guide, produced by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), decries what it calls years of fruitless talk over a two-state solution, saying Israel has effectively been creating a single state with apartheid-style oppression of Palestinians. It decried Israel for “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians from hundreds of communities in 1948 and said the state resulted from a “toxic relationship between theology and politics.”