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Presbyterians Lambaste Israel, Shy Away From Criticizing Hamas

REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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The 2018 Presbyterian General Assembly passed several resolutions criticizing Israel for violence and alleged human rights violations and rejected language critical of Palestinians and Hamas.

The 223rd PGA, which met in St. Louis Missouri from June 16 to 23, passed 11 resolutions concerning Israel Friday evening,  many of which criticized Israel for alleged human rights violations and conflict with Palestinians, according to HAARETZ. One of the passed resolutions concerning Israel condemned the killing of Palestinians in violent protests along the Gaza, Israel border but refrained from mentioning the role of Hamas in those deaths. (RELATED: Hamas Claims 50 Of 60 Killed On Gaza Border Were Terrorist Soldiers)

“The church should speak against all discourse that inspires violence in Gaza. Such incitement is not restricted to one side,” Jeff DeYoe of Peace River Presbytery, who proposed the amendment to remove references to Hamas, said according to PCUSA. “Providing language without mentioning a specific group, is more than sufficient that the PC(USA) does not condone any language that incites violence on either side.”

The resolution condemning the border violence, once stripped of the words “by Hamas,” passed by a vote of 438 to 34.

Other resolutions asked RE/MAX, LLC to end the sale and rental of Jewish settlement properties in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and encouraged Presbyterians to engage with Jewish colleagues “on the issue of Israeli occupation of Palestine,”

The General Assembly also passed a resolution demanding that Israel fully comply with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, asserting that Israeli laws currently favor Jewish citizens over Muslim and Christian citizens.

The assembly struck down a proposed resolution “For the Protection of the Children of Israel and Palestine” on the grounds that it on criticized the treatment of children under the Palestinian Authority and Hamas and did not criticize Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children enough. They also struck down a resolution to end the Presbyterian denomination’s label of Israel as a “colonial project.”

The assembly’s actions concerning Israel drew the ire of The American Jewish Committee.

“The Church remains obsessively critical of Israel in its national utterances,” AJC’s director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations, Rabbi Noam Marans, said in a statement according to HAARETZ. “For many years and in myriad ways, the PCUSA has gone beyond legitimate criticism of Israel and embraced demonization of the Jewish state.”

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