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March 21, 2016 7:24 am

It’s Getting Ugly: Anti-Israel Hate at the United Church of Christ

avatar by Dexter Van Zile

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An invitation to a United Church of Christ event. Photo: Facebook.

An invitation to a United Church of Christ event. Photo: Facebook.

The passage of a BDS resolution at the United Church of Christ (UCC)’s 2015 General Synod highlighted the presence of anti-Israel hate within the denomination. Not everyone who belongs to or works for the UCC — a liberal Protestant denomination with 900,000 members — hates Israel or Jews. Still, there is a contingent of activists and clergy within the denomination who specialize in combining religious piety with contempt for the Jewish homeland and its supporters.

It’s getting ugly.

These Israel-haters started coming out of the woodwork in early February, with the publication of two Lenten Meditations produced by UCC pastors. Lent, the 40 days before Easter, is a time when Christians are supposed to engage in introspection, fasting and prayer; but in 2016, two UCC clergy members used Lent as an opportunity to bash Israel in some pretty ugly ways.

Rev. Loren McGrail, a UCC pastor, produced a Lenten meditation that relied on dishonest articles from Palestinian news outlets to inform her readers about the conflict. One of the articles falsely claimed that Israel did not arrest or punish any of the people responsible for a 2015 arson attack in Duma that killed an 11-month-old Arab baby and his parents.

The article, published by Palestine National News in January 2016, stated explicitly that Israel did not hold anyone accountable for the Duma attack, because “the evidence against the Jewish suspects was ‘not enough’ to try them.”

Wrong. Israeli officials did arrest and indict a 21-year-old Israeli Jew and an unnamed minor for setting the fire — weeks before the PNN published its story.

The same article also falsely suggested that Israel did not punish anyone for the murder of Mohammad Abu Khdeir in July 2014. In fact, Israel arrested the perpetrators soon after the attack, and they are currently in jail.

Fortunately, the UCC removed the article after CAMERA exposed its propagandistic nature.

The UCC did the right thing in response to McGrail’s screed, but she was not the only UCC pastor who tried to pass off anti-Israel propaganda as a Lenten meditation. Rev. Diane Dulin, a retired UCC pastor from Oregon who now works for the anti-Israel Kairos USA produced a text even uglier than McGrail’s.

Her text, which was promoted by the Episcopal Church, declared that the Zionist interpretation of scripture proffers a “word of death and not of life.”

To demonize modern-day Israeli Jews, Dulin characterizes them as perpetrating the same evils done by first century Jews as recounted in the New Testament book of Luke. Citing the gospel, she reports that Jesus “laments the headstrong rush to ruin which seems to be in Jerusalem’s DNA,” which includes “killing the prophets” and “stoning those sent by God.”

She then provides a litany of alleged misdeeds by Israel that makes it appear as if the Israelis are the only people who have done bad things in Jerusalem.

Nowhere does she offer any mention of the stabbings, murders, kidnappings and car attacks that Palestinians have perpetrated against Israelis in recent months. There is no mention of the stabbings that have cost dozens of Israeli Jews their lives since last fall. There is no mercy or expression of concern for Jewish life in Dulin’s text. There is no attempt whatsoever to acknowledge the humanity of Jews who have been murdered and terrorized. The apparent goal of the meditation is to portray modern-day Israeli Jews in the light of New Testament anti-Judaism.

There is yet a third UCC pastor, Rev. Graylan Hagler from Washington, DC, who has combined activist lingo with contempt for the Jewish homeland and its supporters. At a talk at a community center in Ithaca in early March, Hagler assailed the Jewish notion of chosenness, asserting that “if there is a chosen people, then that means God is a racist.”

He also alleged that the Zionist lobby controlled both American leaders, and the entire international community. Hagler even downplayed the horror of the Holocaust. “I’m not denying there was a Holocaust,” he said, “but it was a Holocaust.”

Speaking at Cornell that same week, Hagler said, “We got to challenge racism and discrimination and hatred where it is and Zionism is racism.”

The United Church of Christ has a problem. Last summer, its General Synod singled out the Jewish State for condemnation while remaining silent about the ongoing genocide of Christians and Yezidis in Iraq and Syria. And while the rest of the country is starting to finally come around to acknowledging the horror of this genocide, UCC pastors and peace activists still continue to singularly assail the Jewish State with hateful rhetoric and propaganda.

Like I said, it’s getting ugly.

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