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Presbyterian Anti-Israel Crusade: Is That All You Can Say, Gradye?

October 18, 2012 2:35 pm 18 comments

Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), could be regarded as a master of public relations – if you would call someone who routinely stomps on landmines a master of defusing bombs.

Parsons stepped on a landmine on Oct. 5, 2012, when he signed onto a letter to Congress asking lawmakers to investigate Israel for violating federal law regarding foreign aid. The letter does not ask Congress to conduct the same investigation on countries like Egypt, where government officials have murdered Christians both before and after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in early 2011 and where Coptic Christians have been murdered in the streets of Cairo by military personnel.

That letter, which will have little if any impact on Congress, did stir up a hornet’s nest of anger from mainstream Jewish leaders who have pulled the plug on an interfaith dialogue meeting between Jewish groups and mainline Protestant churches that was scheduled to take place on Oct. 22.

The repercussions could continue as Ethan Felson, vice president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs told the Jewish week that the “JCPA is considering as a response asking Congress to investigate delegitimizers of Israel and to issue a resolution against their efforts.”

Almost two weeks later, Parsons issued another letter of his own calling on the leaders from Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian Authority which controls the West Bank to reconcile with each other. The PA and Hamas have been at odds since June 2007 when Hamas perpetrated a violent take over of the Gaza Strip. Hamas threw its opponents off of rooftops handcuffed. In some instances, Hamas forced family members watch men fall to their deaths.

The human rights violations that took place during this fighting didn’t elicit much complaint from mainline churches when it took place, but now, five years later, Parsons is encouraging the rival factions to make peace in a letter in which he writes:

It is obvious that as long as this struggle for power and authority persists, the Israeli’s accusation that they have no “partner” with whom to negotiate a peace agreement remains true.

After reading Parsons’ letter, casual observers of the Arab-Israeli conflict would have an obvious question: What about the rockets, Gradye? What about the rockets? Could not the PC(USA)’s stated clerk not tell Hamas to bring an end to the ongoing rocket attacks that have been plaguing Israel – for years – and which have escalated in recent weeks?

For goodness sake, Gradye, the subject has its own page on Wikipedia! Not a month goes by in which Israelis are not subject to attacks. According to the Israeli government, Palestinians launched 13 rockets and five mortar shells into Israel from Gaza during the month of September. The previous month yielded 12 rocket attacks and 3 mortar shell attacks from the Gaza Strip. The day before the PC(USA) released Parsons’ letter, AFP reported:

According to the Israeli military, Gaza militants have fired more than 505 rockets or mortar rounds at southern Israel since the beginning of the year, including upwards of 45 this month alone.

Clearly, there has been an increase in rocket attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip, which helps explain why Israel has started fighting back with air strikes, which we can be sure mainline Protestants will condemn in the weeks ahead. And in their condemnation, they will make a pro-forma reference to the ongoing rocket attacks, which they will lament.

Parsons’ letter is emblematic of the moral and intellectual stupidity that has afflicted mainline Protestant leaders for close to a decade. Even as he calls for Hamas and the PA to reconcile with one another so they can be a “peace partner” with Israel, Parsons can’t even bring himself to point out deadly rocket attacks that Hamas has been launching for years.

If Parsons’ thought he was going to somehow make good on his blunder of signing the letter to Congress that singled Israel out for scrutiny with this letter, he is wrong.

Instead, the letter to Hamas and the PA demonstrates the man just does not “get it.”

He simply does not get it.

Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).


  • Todays Chumash with Rashi.

    “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you” G-d does not lie!

  • Asher Eliezer

    The Presbyterian church is even more reprehensible than the other mainline Protestant churches. For in addition to its decade long BDS struggle, it runs a messianic Jewish congregation in Philadelphia. For more information, check out

    • I am not sure that the PC(USA) continues to support the congregation you mention.

      I think they may have stopped this policy. At one time they did, but I do not believe they do anymore.

      I could be wrong. If I can find the relevant link, I will post it.

  • Grayde Parsons and the “useful idiots” at groups like Presbyterians Peacemaking and Christian Peacemaker Teams, will never “get it” because they are left wing ideologues who have forsaken the eternal Truth of the Gospel for the transitory glibness of popular opinion and human wisdom. Excuse me. The term “useful idiots” is wrong and I apologize. There’s nothing “useful” about them.

    Earl Tilford
    First Presbyterian Church
    Tuscaloosa, AL

  • Even the UN commission found that the stopping of the Flotilla was legitimate. Th describe Israel’s action of self defense as “a massacre” shows, together with his other distortions, that Mr. Isackowitz is a Presbyterian in spirit and ignorance if not by membership

  • Joseph Isackowitz

    I would like to be able to condemn such measures the various Churches have taken, but I would also like to see Israel living up to its aspiration to be a “light into all nations”. When I see news of more settlement activity, Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacres, Operation Cast Leads, midnight raids on Palestinian homes, beatings and imprisonment of children, bulldozing of Palestinian homes, and many other atrocities, I do not feel proud of my people. Israel wants no part of a “peace process” but simply wants All of Palestine because “god gave us the land” an arguable proposition to say the least.
    To survive, Israel must lift its heavy boot off the necks of the Palestinian people and hiding behind legalisms to justify its immoral behavior. Let the Torah guide our behavior.

    • Israel is every bit a light unto the nations. All it has been doing in its short existence has been to survive in peace. The Palestinians were offered a state too, you know, but they turned it down…and they and their brethren have spent all their energy instead on destroying Israel.

  • Fredric M. London

    There is nothing liberal about anti-Semitism, which is obviously what this ‘man’ is about. As I have said before, politically-coerced censorship worshipers give themselves permission to raise their ugly Jew hating faces again. This man has probably waited for years to be able to bring his bigotry to the forefront, and now he can. This is NOT liberalism, it is a fascistic, calcified, intolerant movement: politically-coerced censorship.

  • US Christian denominations are complex. Though the Presbyterian Church(USA) is the largest Presbyterian denomination there are a number on others-all of which are far more conservative.
    A good simple starting point are the denominational family trees

  • The other issue one might ask Congress to consider regarding the investigation of Israel’s activities is the tax exemption enjoyed by the various churches and whether or not their anti-Israel activism is crossing the line right out of that exemption.

  • The ‘Palestinians’ do not control the ‘West Bank’, Israel does. Talk about delegitimizing Israel, you are doing it.

  • Like the Episcopal Church the Presbyterian Church USA has rejected the Bible as God’s Word.As denominations become more and more liberal they loose more and more members.
    How many members have these denominations lost in the last 5 years?

    • The Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Episcopal Church each lose about 60,000 members per year. Over five years, roughly 300,000 members has been lost from each of these two apostate denominations.

      Just this week, the Episcopal Church instantly lost about 22,000 members when the Diocese of South Carolina severed its relationship with The Episcopal Church.


    • All during the Shoah the Jews talked and in fact, prayed to Hashem. When the Jews in one Polish town I was told about by a survivor asked their rabbi about the news they were hearing about the Germans the rabbi told them not to worry but just keep studying Talmud and they would have nothing to fear.
      According to your advice Israel doesn’t need an army or an air force or a navy or defensive weapons. Israel doesn’t need the Jews of the diaspora or contacts with other government like the US.
      In other words, Israel is doomed. I don’t like your advise.

    • Virginia Gentleman

      I think it is a valid question for any member of PCUSA or any other mainline denomination to protest the denomination’s line-crossing into the area of political discussion. All you have to do is visit the IRS website for the proper form.

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