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[Our comments below relate to the document resolution12-01.pdf (local copy) with the heading "Item 12-01. Resolution on Israel and Palestine" that appeared originally on the PCUSA website at the following link.]
The July 2004 Resolution on Israel and Palestine contains a section entitled "A Historical Synopsis of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict." However, the purported history there is not much closer to the facts than the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the infamous anti-Semitic forgery concocted by the Tzarist police.
The Chruch's "historical synopsis" begins by eliminating a large population of Jews. Although there were large numbers of Jews in Jerusalem, Safed, Hebron, and other cities of the Holy Land in the early 19th century (and, indeed, throughout history except during brief periods when the number of Jews was tragically reduced by anti-Semitic pogroms and ethnic cleansing), the Church states baldly and with utter inaccuracy that the only Jews in the Holy Land at the end of the 19th century had recently been "brought to Palestine from Europe as part of a movement known as the Zionist Movement."
The Church cleverly obfuscates history when it writes: "... the (UN) assembly decided to partition Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish... Though the proposed Palestinian state did not materialize, the land was partitioned in 1949 when an armistice divided the new Jewish state from other parts of the Mandate of Palestine." This carefully neglects to mention the fact that the Jews accepted the UN resolution creating the two states, while the Arabs rejected it and launched a war to annihilate the Jews.
The Church's purported history states: "Several wars were fought in the area, but in June 1967, Israel, during the six-day June war involving Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and Syria, captured and occupied (the West Bank and Gaza), along with the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, and the Golan Heights from Syria." The Church turns history on its head by making it appear that Israel initiated the war as an act of aggression. In fact, the Six Day War was an attack on Israel, in this case by the combined armies of Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, designed, in the words of Egyptian President Nasser, to "drive the Jews into the Sea." Interestingly, the Iraqi Army is missing altogether from the Church's account, though not from the war.
The "historical synopsis" continues with serious omissions and misstatements of fact combined with bizarre reversals of truth to produce a document that is not an "historical synopsis," but a deliberately defamatory, anti-Israel rewriting of history.
In the PCUSA Historical Perspective, the centrality of the Land of Israel and Jerusalem to Jewish hopes, prayers and religious observance for millennia is reduced to being a mere political ideology derivative from European colonialism and calculated to move victims of European anti-Semitism to "a homeland related to the ancient people of biblical Israel."
The dozens of permanent Jewish communities throughout Palestine reported by Christian travelers in the 16th through the 19th centuries are ignored, as is the Jewish plurality in Jerusalem by the 1840 census, and the Jewish majority in the 1880 census. Even the Crusades did not entirely wipe out Jewish life in Palestine. For nearly every period, there is documentation of Jewish communities, and records of extensive communications between those communities and the Diaspora.
The McMahon-Hussein understandings are misrepresented. Those documents make no reference to Palestine, a deliberate omission that Hussein was aware of, according to McMahon.
The important role of the Jewish Legion in the British conquest of Palestine is not mentioned while the role of T.E. Lawrence and Faisal's Arabians is highlighted.
But certainly, these issues have small importance from today's perspective. Ignoring, minimizing and excusing terror are NOT of small importance.
By 1921, Haj Amin Al-Hussein had made terror the central tactic to drive the Jews out of Palestine, and brought to the use of terror, some level of central planning and control. Al-Husseini, best know as the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, is remembered for his commitment to terror and his recruitment of Balkan Muslims to aid in the extermination of Jews in Europe.
The Item 12-01 Historical Synopsis consistently blurs the reality and significance of the continual Arab campaign of violence against the Jews. The Arab mob rampage, which slaughtered 67 Jews in the ancient Jewish community in Hebron in 1929, is described as "a confrontation." The extreme Arab violence, including the castration of two elderly rabbis and of five young yeshiva students, rapes, and deaths by torture, hanging, and stabbing created a wave of fear and revulsion which resonate to this day. 28 Arab families did provide shelter to 435 Jews, but this was downplayed by the Arab leadership since it did not serve the Mufti's purpose to present those 28 families as representative. The Hebron massacre and the consequent exile of all the survivors, except for a Jewish prostitute who found shelter with a local mukhtar, was a watershed event, and it marked a severe setback to ongoing Zionist efforts to conciliate with the Arabs and to reconcile the interests and the futures of Jews and Arabs. The conciliators lost all credibility with the Jewish population. Many came to believe that the Arabs viewed conciliation as weakness.
Nonetheless, efforts to reach out to the Arabs continued. In 1934, Ben Gurion sought a meeting with the Mufti to discuss the possibility of joint Arab-Jewish rule, or Jewish rule within an Arab federation. The mufti never responded.
The 1936 Peel Commission offered partition with 90% of Palestine to the Arabs. The Jews accepted. The Arabs responded with a three-year wave of terror against the Jews and the British. Just like the wave of terror unleashed after the Clinton administration negotiated peace deal of the summer of 2000, atrocities repulsed and frightened the Jewish community, and pulled the rug out from under conciliatory efforts.
Throughout, calls for vengeance were denounced by leaders of most segments of Jewish society. The Zionist leaders fought vigorously, but not always successfully, to suppress the impulse for counter-terror and revenge. When the British hanged a Jewish terrorist, Ben-Gurion refused to allow him to be turned into a martyr. For most Jews, terrorists brought shame to the Jewish people, despite the provocations. That attitude prevails to this day.
Thus was set the pattern that has been endlessly repeated right up to the present day. Arabs murder Jews, often in the most atrocious fashion. The Jewish response becomes the justification for the next atrocity. Every opportunity for an Arab state is refused. Any step towards peace by the Jews is met by a renewed wave of terror. The Jewish efforts toward peace are repulsed with violent attacks and terrorism. Arguably, Barak was defeated in 2001, even though about 70% of the Israeli public was prepared to accept his peace initiatives, because he appeared helpless to hold Arafat to his commitment to make a real effort to end terror.
Remarkably, recent polls continue to show the same 70% Israeli support for a withdrawal to some approximation of the old armistice lines, in exchange for a credible commitment to peace. Imagine what a Palestinian Sadat could win at the negotiating table.
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