Embroiled over Israel, Presbyterians invite a rabbi to the pulpit

2014 ga logoBy Lauren Markoe

(RNS) In a sign of the precarious state of Presbyterian-Jewish relations, the rabbi who heads the largest branch of Judaism in North America will appeal directly to the Presbyterian Church (USA) to step back from a series of critical resolutions aimed at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Invited to address the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Detroit, which begins next week, Rabbi Rick Jacobs said the Presbyterians have the choice of making things worse, or better.

“It’s a critical moment,” said Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, representing about 1.9 million Jews. “Much is at stake.”

At issue are a handful of proposed statements on the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories that will be considered at the biennial meeting of the 1.8 million-member Presbyterian denomination.

Some of the resolutions are new, and some have come before the General Assembly for years. All seek to highlight Palestinian suffering under Israel, which has occupied Palestinian lands in the West Bank since 1967, against international law.