Repairing the breach: Zionism is not the problem, despite what a Presbyterian study guide says

guideBy Rev. Sheldon Sorge and Rabbi James Gibson

A torrent of controversy has surrounded the recent publication of a curriculum on Israel and the Palestinians entitled “Zionism Unsettled” by the “Israel/​Palestine Mission Network,” a study group appointed by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Some Presbyterians believe it presents a fair claim and opens a new path to justice for Palestinians. Others are alarmed at the prospect of burning bridges with the Jewish community that have taken decades to build and are anchored in our shared ancient faith traditions.

Some Jews believe that this is simply another chapter in a long history of anti-Semitic publications from the far left. Many other Jews long to reach a just two-state solution to the conflict, respecting both the rights and needs of both parties.

Israelis and Palestinians alike have suffered violence. Palestinians have been hurt and killed in confrontations with Israeli soldiers. Life under occupation is very difficult. Israeli civilians have been hurt and killed by Palestinian terror attacks. Yet a majority on both sides, according to most polls, want a just resolution of claims and a peaceful end to the conflict.

We believe this study guide heightens strife more than it promotes peace. It one-sidedly blames the Jewish state in particular and Zionism in general for the conflict. Claiming to balance the current dialogue, it threatens to upend it.

We would hope that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which has long sought a peaceful two-state solution to the conflict, would seek to promote light instead of heat, hope instead of despair. This study does neither.