The GBGM's "Israel-Palestine:A Mission Study" Uses Group Stereotyping and Classic Anti-Semitic Themes To Cast Jews, Judaism and Israelis in a Hostile and Negative Light
The Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church, has embarked on a yearlong study program focusing on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Part of this program is a 223 page volume entitled "Israel-Palestine: A Mission Study," co-authored by Revs. Stephen Goldstein and Sandra Olewine. The volume is replete with factual errors, misrepresentations, material omissions and distortions and does not present the facts of the Arab/Israeli conflict in a balanced or even handed manner. Nor does it promote peace and justice. Rather, it is a somewhat blatant attempt to portray Jews and Israelis in as damning a light as possible. One telltale sign of the Mission Study's lack of evenhandedness is its overt stereotyping of Jews as belligerent, inherently racist and vengeful.
1. According to Rev. Goldstein, "I also recall hearing news the previous year of the Six-Day War in the Middle East . . . . I remember feeling some vengeful pride in hearing that the Jews had won a war. 'We' had beat somebody else, the 'Arabs.' Such chauvinism is a telling part of the story." (p.16)
Rev. Goldstein may well, as an individual, have felt "vengeful pride" after the Six-Day War. But this projection of his own negative emotions onto all Jews and suggestion that his own personal feelings are somehow "a telling part" of Israel's story has no validity and reveals an unsavory anti-Jewish and anti-Israel agenda that runs throughout this volume.
2. According to the Mission Study, "some scholars insist" that "religious racism . . . is inherent in some of the traditional writings and interpretations of Rabbinic Judaism regarding the non-Jew." (p. 96)
3. According to the Mission Study, Israelis are guilty of harboring a "racism that considers Arabs less than human." (p.30)
4. The Mission Study portrays the early Jewish immigrants to Israel/Palestine as people who "harbored . . . contempt" for the Palestinian Arabs and who were "basically racist." (pp. 32 & 38)
5. The Mission Study accuses Israelis of "not see[ing] Palestinians as human beings like themselves." (p. 32)
6. The Mission Study contrasts Palestinian culture which it characterizes as "conservative and modest" with an impression of Jews as "arrogant and aggressive." (p. 46)
7. According to the Mission Study, the Israelis "have seldom taken responsibility, at least publicly, for their belligerence, and their intentional undermining of attempts at resolutions to the conflict." (p. 71)
8. After accusing Israelis of being "belligeren[t]," the Mission Study goes on to employ the classic anti-Semitic canard of Jewish conspiracy by stating that "Israel's internal political dialogue has also created intentional ambiguity in its professed policies so as to confound potential agreements with Arab states and to manipulate its internal supporters." (p. 71)
The Mission Study thus portrays Israeli democracy as some cunning Jewish conspiracy designed not to encourage free thought and free expression but merely to "confound" and "manipulate" outsiders.
This is perhaps one of the most alarming aspects of the Mission Study. It resurrects the libel of the world Jewish conspiracy, which was a defining anti-Semitic motif that most people of good-will thought had been put to rest after the Holocaust.
Sr. Ruth Lautt, OP, Esq.
Christians for Fair Witness on the Middle East
475 Riverside Drive, Ste 1960
New York, NY 10115