By Dexter Van Zile, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.
The texts vary significantly in content and tone, but the one thing these texts have in common is that they promote a distorted view of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In the narrative offered in these texts, Israel is singularly responsible for the continued existence of the conflict. The misdeeds of Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (and Arab and Muslim leaders throughout the Middle East) are downplayed or simply ignored.
The overarching impact of the texts produced by Presbyterian institutions is to promote suspicion and fear toward the Jewish state and its impact on the Middle East and the international system. Sometimes they promote suspicion toward Israel’s Jewish supporters in the United States. In these texts, the Jewish people, their institutions and their homeland are depicted as a malign and central force in history in both the U.S. and the Middle East. By varying degrees, these texts promote a Judeocentric and Judeophobic view of domestic and international politics.
These materials are produced in the hopes that they will be used as discussion guides by local churches and undermine support for the Jewish state on the part of the denomination’s rank and file.
It is unclear if these texts affect public opinion in the U.S., but they do have a significant impact on debate at the denomination’s General Assemblies that are held every two years and at which Israeli policies are regularly scrutinized and condemned.
The following is a summary of some of distorted texts distributed by the PCUSA over the past few years.
‘Cradle to Our Faith’
Since 2008, the denomination has sold “Cradle to Our Faith: The Enduring Witness of the Christians of the Middle East” through its website. Interestingly enough, this text, produced by the Israel Palestine Mission Network of the PCUSA (an organization established by the denomination’s 2004 General Assembly), offers false witness about the region.
For example, it falsely reports that Israel’s Christian population has, along with other countries in the region, “experienced a drastic decrease in numbers.” This is not true.