A letter signed by 15 leaders of Christian churches that calls for Congress to reconsider giving aid to Israel because of accusations of human rights violations has outraged Jewish leaders and threatened to derail longstanding efforts to build interfaith relations.This is not a recent or spontaneous development. The Palestinian BDS Movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) has been underway for several years now. I have been aware of it for a long time, ending a post about it with this:
The Christian leaders say their intention was to put the Palestinian plight and the stalled peace negotiations back in the spotlight at a time when all of the attention to Middle East policy seems to be focused on Syria, the Arab Spring and the Iranian nuclear threat.
“We asked Congress to treat Israel like it would any other country,” said the Rev. Gradye Parsons, the top official of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), “to make sure our military aid is going to a country espousing the values we would as Americans — that it’s not being used to continually violate the human rights of other people.”
When I read this material and compare it with the war-mongering language associated with Israel in the US I get a serious case of cognitive dissonance. Because of the recent tragedy we know more about Haitians than we do about Palestinians. A Gaza pogrom came and went with little notice. If you ask someone on the street what was the Goldstone Report you will get a blank stare. Few know Hamas from Abbas, much less Hamas and Fatah.Most Americans are not aware of this movement for a variety of reasons mentioned above. This year's presidential election also underscores the political importance and active involvement of the Christian Zionist segment of Evangelical Christianity. This is not the place to explore that complicated amalgam of politics and faith but it's influence is global, as indicated recently when Chinese Christians participated in a Sukkot Holiday celebration in Jerusalem.
Such ignorance is unfortunate but understandable Whatever the reasons, Americans (like many Israelis) are so wrapped up in domestic issues that few pay attention to foreign affairs generally, much less what they regard as a centuries-old conflict in the Middle East that has been in progress for generations and can be expected to continue long after we are gone.
If the BDS Movement continues to gain momentum, it is hard to know who will be more surprised, Israelis in denial or Americans who never imagined anything would ever change.
But to recycle an old phrase from the past, consciousness-raising is taking place. And you don't need to be an expert on climate change to know which way the wind is a-blowing.
Readers for whom this is surprising news are urged to do some homework. There are enough links above to get you started. Just keep drilling, reading and searching. The bottom line is that beneath the sensationalism of popular journalism a non-violent movement for Palestinian rights and recognition as a country is under way and has been for several years. Like so many other groups splintered by forces over which they have little control Palestinians are often their own worst enemies, starting with the internal tension between Hamas and Fatah, a conflict deliberately used by Israel with good success as a divide-and-conquer tactic.