Lets hope the bias shines through

The only way the United Methodist Church’s new “study guide” on Israel could be more overtly used to hurt the people of the Jewish state would be if it was used physically to beat an Israeli.

There’s a special frustration elicited by the publication of this sort of book, which claims to be a “balanced” account of Mideast history aiming for a just peace, but is actually a one-sided diatribe against Israel — and Judaism in general.

Your guess is as good as ours about what the writers of this kind of anti-Israel propaganda are really after. But our money is on driving forward the Methodist church’s budding divest-from-Israel movement (two separate divestment bills are on the table this April at the Methodists’ nationwide plenum).

Glancing over excerpts from the 225-page book, it appears that the Methodist tome crosses every boundary between difficult truth-telling about Mideast history and overt propagandizing for one side.

Stereotyping of Jews as meddling colonizers? Check. Comparing the Holocaust and the occupation? Check. Reversing the content of a historical letter from David Ben-Gurion to claim that the father of the Jewish state had long intended to drive the Arabs out of Israel — the exact opposite of his actual writings? Check.

The Rev. Archer Summers, senior minister at Palo Alto’s First United Methodist Church, told j. that the study guide (and divestment movement) anger and embarrass him.

He described a scenario in the church similar to the one that unfolded on the San Francisco State University campus in the 1980s. You may recall how a group of pro-Palestinian extremists took advantage of overall campus political complacency to win control of the student government, then used student funds to bring a parade of fire-breathing anti-Israel demagogues to campus.

Fast-forward nearly three decades and we have a situation in which “some ideologues in the denomination are out to demonize Israel,” Summers said. “And, unfortunately, they’ve been able to use the United Methodist publications for making this case.”

Partnerships between mainstream Methodists like Summers and the Jewish community will hopefully nip the church’s divestment movement in the bud.

But if not, if the Methodists really are pervasively anti-Israel —or perhaps just fooled by such slick, well-produced propaganda — the result could be the mainstreaming of a divestment movement that singles out one country — Israel — for economic, moral and political scorn beyond that of all other nations. n