As rockets rain down on southern Israel forcing parents and children to run into bomb shelters, mainline Protestant leaders in the United States are responding with the moral stupidity that we’ve come to expect from these church leaders.
First in the docket is Gradye Parsons, the stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Parsons should be familiar to the readers of The Algemeiner. A while back, Parsons wrote a letter to both the Palestinian Authority and to Hamas asking that they reconcile with each other so that they can negotiate with Israel. In his letter, Parsons made no reference to the ongoing rockets that have been fired into Israel.
Parsons has aroused himself from his silence with a statement that condemns both Hamas and Israel for the escalation of violence. The statement reads in part, “The combination of attacks on Israeli patrols, the launching of rockets against Israeli communities, and the violent response of the Israeli Defense Force have all contributed to a dangerous escalation of violence which is counterproductive for all parties.”
In his statement Parsons added that “every [rocket attack] has produced counter violence on the part of Israel, often resulting in greater loss of life.” With this statement, Parsons ignores an important fact: Israeli officials allowed hundreds of rockets to go unanswered before finally firing back.
This is what Parsons did: He remained silent about rocket attacks that had been going on for months – without a response from Israel. Then after Israel responded with air strikes Parsons then lept into action with an “evenhanded” statement condemning both sides for their violent acts and for escalation. By waiting until Israel fired back before responding to the rocket attacks, Parsons was able to posit a false moral equivalence between Hamas’s and Israel’s actions.
It’s an ugly and deceptive way of attacking Israel under the guise of peacemaking, but it’s exactly the type of response we should expect from PC(USA) leaders and peace activists given their history of demonizing Israel.
Peter Makari, Ph.D.
Parsons is not the only mainline Protestant leader to behave so irresponsibly.
Rev. Dr. Peter Makari, executive for the Middle East and Europe for the Global Ministries of the United Church (UCC) and Disciples of Christ is another.
Earlier this month, Makari gave an interview to the American Free Press, a white nationalist publication founded by Willis Carto, a well-known Holocaust denier. In the interview, Makari spoke about the Oct. 5, 2012 letter to Congress that called on lawmakers to investigate Israel for alleged violations of federal law regarding foreign aid. During the interview, he said that speaking to the American Free Press provided a “good opportunity” to get the message out.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which uncovered the story, is demanding Makari’s ouster. The SWC provides some background:
American Free Press (AFP) is regarded as the successor to the now defunct Liberty Lobby’s Spotlight. Willis Carto, one of America’s most notorious racists, is a founder of both. Carto is also the founder of the Holocaust-denying Institute For Historical Review. Some of the books that have been offered for sale by the AFP include The Judas Goats: The Enemy Within (details governmental infiltration of the American nationalist movement at the behest of “the alien force of international political Zionism”), The Conspiracy of the Six-Pointed Star, El Sicario: The Autobiography of a Mexican Assassin, and March of the Titans: A History of the White Race. The AFP site includes this quote in one of their essays: “Israel…is contributing to the unification and activation of the colored world for war against the colonial and other outsiders.”
Makari has a Ph.D. in political science. If he didn’t know about the background of the publication he was being interviewed by, he should have.
The United Church of Christ has stated that it will not issue an official response to the Wiesenthal Center’s call for the UCC and the Disciples to remove Makari from his post because he wasn’t speaking on behalf of the UCC.
Emily Mullins, communications specialist for the UCC said Makari was on behalf of the 15 religious leaders who signed the Oct. 5, 2012 letter to Congress – not the UCC.
“He was serving as a spokesperson in that role,” she said.
This is a shocking and evasive response.
It’s shocking because it indicates that the 15 religious leaders who signed the letter wanted to have their story told in a publication that traffics in ugly anti-Jewish conspiracy theories.
It’s evasive because the signatories of the letter included Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins and Rev. Geoffrey Black, leaders of the two denominations that pay Makari’s salary.
There it is folks.
One mainline Protestant leader stays silent about Palestinian violence until Israel fires back.
Another leader gives an interview to a publication that traffics in Holocaust denial. And apparently, no one is going to hold him accountable.
Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America.