Friday, May 24, 2013

  • Friday, May 24, 2013
  • Elder of Ziyon
From The Scotsman:
THE General Assembly has ignored calls by Scottish Jews to rethink a controversial report on the Israel-Palestine situation.

The Church and Society Council’s Inheritance of Abraham? A report on the Promised Land document prompted a storm of controversy around the world when it was first published.

Although primarily about the treatment of Palestinian people by the Israeli government, it was interpreted by Jewish groups as questioning the assumption that the Bible supported the existence of Israel as the Promised Land for Jews.

The report was criticised by the Israeli government as playing into “extremist political positions” and that it had damaged inter-faith relations.

In the wake of the row, the Kirk entered talks with Jewish groups and revised the report, changing some of the language and adding a preface giving context to the document.

Despite these amendments, the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC) said that the report’s “unacceptable underlying message remains unaltered,” and hoped that “rather than adopting the report, the General Assembly will refer it back in order to permit a serious and sustained dialogue that will bring our communities together rather than driving us apart”.

During the debate on the report yesterday, the Rev David Randall echoed the SCoJeC’s call and brought a motion for the council to continue its work on the paper to find out “what is troubling the Jewish community” and report back in 2014.

Although she agreed that talks with Jewish communities should continue, the council convener, the Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, rejected the motion, stating that council had been in “good dialogue” with them and had addressed their concerns. But she said that it was “a report for the General Assembly to discuss and debate” and that the central message “was robust”.

A standing vote was taken and Mr Randall’s motion was overwhelmingly rejected, and the report was accepted by the Assembly.

Speaking outside the hall, Mrs Foster-Fulton said: “This is primarily a report highlighting the continued occupation by the state of Israel and the injustices faced by the Palestinian people as a consequence. It is not a report criticising the Jewish people. Opposing the unjust policies of the state of Israel cannot be equated to antisemitism.”
The revised report itself addresses none of the actual problems with the original report. It simply adds an introduction that emphasizes that some Jews weren't thrilled with the ideas in the report, that this wasn't their intention, and that dialogue is a really great thing. And, also:
[T]he country of Israel is a recognised State and has the right to exist in peace and security
However, the report itself makes crystal clear that the Church of Scotland does not recognize that there is a right for a Jewish state to exist.

Saying that Israel has a right to exist, without saying that the Jewish people have a right to self-determination, is not an indication of flexibility - it is an exercise in doublespeak.

The main thrust of the report, and the part that is offensive, remains the same: the Church of Scotland is radically re-interpreting the Jewish Bible to mean something diametrically opposed to what it actually says, multiple times, in very plain language.

Fundamentally, the Church is saying that the Jewish people have no right to their historic land. This means either that the Jews are either the only nation who do not have the right to self-determination, or that the Jews aren't a nation. The Old Testament is nothing if not the story of Jewish nationhood, so either the Church is changing the very essence of its foundational text or it is claiming that it is proper to deny Jews a basic human right.

No amount of hand waving about respect for dialogue is going to blunt the pure malice behind that message.

Beyond its obvious offensiveness to Jews, the report should be offensive to anyone who takes religion seriously. It is true, as I have shown, that logic used in the report is (to say the least) tendentious. Even worse, however, is that the underlying theme of the report is that the foundation of the religion itself, in this case the Bible, is fungible and must be altered in order to accommodate the current politically correct thinking.

If religion's message isn't timeless, then it has no value.

This is not to say that religions cannot and should not evolve to address contemporary issues, but these changes should not be flippant - and the idea that Israel's actions are so abhorrent that the Bible itself must be re-interpreted every couple of years should be offensive not only to Jews but to any believer.

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