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Church embraces terror backers
by Seva Brodsky

[This letter appeared in the Somerville (MA) Journal on Thursday, January 27, 2005. It could be viewed originally at the following link.]

Why is a Somerville church embracing supporters of terrorism?

A large banner proclaims the commitment of Clarendon Hill Presbyterian Church to "Peace and Justice." A program held at the church threw light on the church's real commitments: to the support of terror attacks on Jews, and to the destruction of the world's only Jewish state.

Members of Clarendon Hill gathered after services on Jan. 16 to enjoy a traditional, covered dish dinner, and to warmly applaud members of the International Solidarity Movement, a group committed to the destruction of the state of Israel "by any means necessary," including suicide bombing.

I feel sadness that a church in Somerville could support an organization that endorses the terror bombing of innocent children.

Members of the International Solidarity Movement, which the London Telegraph has called "the 'peace' group that embraces violence," are not actual terrorists, they are cheerleaders for terrorism. These misguided young people travel to Israel, where they encourage Palestinians to continue their jihad to destroy the Jewish state by persuading them that westerners back both their cause and their violent tactics. When a Palestinian suicide bomber "succeeds" in blowing up an Israeli bus, ISM volunteers rush to the family home to congratulate the family and proclaim their solidarity with the "martyr."

When they return home, ISM volunteers specialize in telling wildly exaggerated or completely invented stories about Israeli treatment of Palestinians. According to the speakers at Clarendon Hill Presbyterian, it was Israel that started the wars of 1948 and 1967 because Jews harbored "Zionist aspirations to conquer everyone around them." History shows that Nasser of Egypt started that war to, in his words, "drive the Jews into the sea."

Members of Clarendon Hill Presbyterian heard Ben Scribner describe Israeli "settlers" throwing cinderblocks from the rooftops onto Arabs in the street below. In fact, in the most intensely covered war zone in the world, this is not what has been reported. Major newspapers have, however, frequently reported young Arab men standing on rooftops and hurling full-sized concrete blocks at Israeli security patrols. In at least one well-documented case, cement blocks were thrown onto the heads of Jewish civilians in a funeral procession.

Opinions about what a just peace in the Middle East would look like vary as greatly among Jews as they do among Presbyterians. But surely people of good will can agree on two basic premises.

First, to proclaim, as the ISM does, that Israel is an "illegal entity that should not exist" and propose that it must be destroyed "by any means necessary" is immoral.

Second, to endorse terrorism, as the ISM does, proclaiming suicide bombing to be a "noble" form of "jihad," is immoral.

Our churches have a responsibility to state clearly that talk about destroying people "by any means necessary," and support for terrorism, the deliberate targeting of civilians to gain political advantage, are unacceptable. These are two principles that people of all faiths and creeds and, indeed, all men and women who truly believe in peace and justice can support.

The question that remains is why has Clarendon Hill Presbyterian, with its banner proclaiming support for "Peace and Justice," warmly embraced an organization that actively supports terrorism and the violent destruction of the State of Israel?

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