WASHINGTON (JTA) — A study guide on Zionism published by an arm of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is drawing expressions of outrage from Jewish groups.
The guide is “worthy of a hate group, not a prominent American church,” said Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for Jewish public policy groups.
The study guide by the church’s Israel Palestine Mission Network is titled “Zionism Unsettled.” It posits that a “pathology inherent in Zionism” drives the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and rejects theologies that uphold Zionism.
It also calls for an “expanded, inclusive” understanding of the Nazi genocide that would apply its lessons not just with respect to the persecution faced by Jews but also to the plight of the Palestinians, among others. The guide urges a “renunciation of the morally hazardous claims of a hierarchy of victimhood.”
The Israel Palestine Mission Network advises the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) but does not necessarily speak for the church, according to mission network’s website.
But the JCPA noted that the church funds and must approve the expenditures of the mission network. “As such it is impossible to separate the toxic actions of IPMN from the PCUSA without the kind of clarification from PCUSA officials that remains sorely missing,” Gutow said in the statement.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center warned that the guide could result in Jews cutting off ties with the church.
“If this book reflects the feelings of the PCUSA, the Simon Wiesenthal Center will divest all contacts from this institution and call on other Jewish organizations to do them same,” the center said in a statement.
The American Jewish Committee called the guide “a devastating distortion of Jewish and Israeli history, aimed at nothing less than eradicating the State of Israel.”
The guide was released ahead of the church’s biennial General Assembly, taking place this June in Detroit. The gathering will once again consider recommendations that it divest from companies that deal with Israel’s military. Similar resolutions have been narrowly defeated in the past.