The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) no longer upholds the antisemitism preached by its denominational founder in the 16th century, Martin Luther. It does, however, use another variant of modern antisemitism – anti-Israelism.
In August of this year, the ELCA passed a resolution that called on the U.S. government to subsidize the Palestinian Authority (PA), while the latter is using these funds to pay the salaries of Palestinian murderers of Israelis and convicted terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons. Another ELCA resolution passed at its August convention, urging the U.S. Congress to “ensure that U.S. taxpayers funds not support military detention, interrogations, and ill-treatment of Palestinian children. That these “so-called children” are old enough to yield knifes and shoot guns that murder Israeli women and children as well as adults, does not interest the ELCA. Moreover, the funding the PA incentivizes murders of Israelis. A 17-year-old Israeli girl, Rina Shnerb, was recently murdered by Palestinian youngsters while hiking with her father and brother. If her killers are caught and sent to prison, they will receive a salary for their crimes.
The ELCA seeks to amend the anti-terrorism Certification Act of 2018, in order to remove the legislative barriers that would enable the ELCA to provide humanitarian aid to the PA. One such project is the Lutheran-owned Augusta Victoria hospital in East Jerusalem, which only treats Palestinians. The PA diverts funds it receives from the international community (including the U.S.) to pay the salaries of terrorist murderers and their families instead of paying the accumulated bills it owes to the hospital. PA officials build themselves luxurious mansions with donated funds. In essence, what the ELCA wants is for the American taxpayer to pay and for the PA officials to continue their corruption and stealing.
On November 21, 2018, the ELCA Presiding Bishop issued the following statement, which ignored the history of Arab-Palestinian terror and violence and criticized the Trump administrations pro-Israel stance on Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The statement read, “Since President Trump took office in 2017, U.S. support for Israel over concerns of Palestinians has become explicit instead of implied.” The statement continued…” U.S. position on key issues like Israeli settlements, the status of Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees have shifted significantly.”
The previous U.S. administration allowed the United Nations (UN) to resolve in December 2016, that the Western Wall, the most sacred Jewish site (a remnant of the Temple) was an Arab-Palestinian territory. Funding the corrupt United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), an agency that spawns Palestinian terrorists, is morally wrong. UNRWA has inflated the number of refugees rather than facilitate the settling of Palestinian refugees with adequate housing after decades of neglect, only to keep them on the dole, dependent on charity. UNWRA officials care more about perpetuating their jobs rather than settling the refugees (as Israel did with Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries) and securing jobs for them.
Ynet headlined on July 29, 2019, with “UNRWA Report: Corruption and Abuse of Power at the Highest Levels.” The article quoted the following from AFP. “AFP has obtained a copy of the report, which describes “credible and corroborated” accusations of serious ethical abuse involving senior officials of the institution, including Commissioner-General Pierre Krähenbühl. The alleged charges include “inappropriate sexual acts, nepotism, reprisals, discrimination and other abuses of authority (committed) for personal gain, to suppress legitimate differences of opinion.” The report was sent to UN Secretary-General António Guterres in December and UN investigators visited UNRWA offices in Jerusalem and Amman to gather information regarding the allegations, according to sources”
The entire tune of the Bishop’s statements appears hostile to the Jewish state, and takes on the role of advocate for the Palestinians, regardless of facts on the ground, and ignoring Palestinian terror, antisemitism, the teaching of hatred against Jews and Israel in Palestinian schools, mosques, and the PA media, not to mention Hamas’ unequivocal rejection of peace with Israel. The Bishop’s statements chided President Trump for “giving no indication that the administration remains committed to the international promise and policy that Jerusalem should be a shared city.” Jerusalem is a shared city where Arab-Palestinians have the same rights as the Israelis.
The Bishop’s statement continues: “In early October (2018), the administration decided to close the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem that had served as diplomatic point of engagement for the Palestinians. The move included demoting the U.S. Consul General. Instead of being responsible for Palestinian matters and answering directly to the Secretary of State, the Consul General in Jerusalem will now answer to the U.S. ambassador to Israel.” What disturbed the presiding Lutheran bishop and his mainline Protestant colleagues is that the U.S. Ambassador to Israel is Jewish, and proudly pro-Israeli.
The statement goes on to say, “The State of Israel remains the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid, receiving approximately $3.8 billion in military aid each year. This funding helps the government of Israel maintain the occupation of the Palestinian territories, making the U.S. complicit in Israel’s detention of Palestinian children in military prisons, violent repression of peaceful protestors, and demolitions of Palestinian homes and communities.” Judea and Samaria are no “Palestinian territories.” There has never been a Palestinian state, nor has there been a resolution to these territories due to the Palestinian rejection of negotiations and peace with Israel. The Palestinian “protesters” are not peaceful, they are violent and led by terrorists.
The mainline Protestant leaders continue, “The administration is also taking actions to deny the freedom of speech to those who criticize the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. The Department of Education has adjusted its definition of anti-Semitism to include anti-Zionism, and criticism of the state of Israel. Any person or group speaking at educational institutions who states their support for anti-Zionism, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement or is otherwise critical of Israel’s policies is potentially at risk for investigation and sanction by the Department of Education.”
The BDS movement has been deemed to be antisemitic by the U.S. government and a number of European states including Germany. Singling out the Jewish state for delegitimization, demonization, and double-standards constitutes antisemitism. Lutheran church organizations and NGO’s in North America and Europe donate large sums of money to radical anti-Israel Palestinian groups. The Lutheran Church is a member of the World Council of Churches. As such, it supports the anti-Israel BDS campaigns and condemns pro-Israel Christian Zionists.
The Lutheran Church has a long and sordid legacy of antisemitism. The ELCA alleged efforts to break away from Martin Luther’s genocidal Jew-hatred appears insincere, when blindly supporting genocidal Palestinian Islamists, who seek the destruction of Israel, and refuse any offer of compromise.
Palestinians have had ample opportunities to create their own sovereign state and provide their people with a future – the Peel Commission in 1937, the UN Partition plan of 1947, the Oslo Accords in 1993, the Camp David Summit in 2000, and the Olmert generous offer in 2008, for a Palestinian state. All were rejected by the Palestinians. For the Palestinians it has always been a zero-sum strategy.
Israel should be admired, not condemned by ELCA. Israel is only democratic state in the region where human rights, free speech, and religious freedoms are upheld despite an environment of terror and violence perpetrated against it by the Palestinians. By its blatant anti-Israel resolution, and campaigns, the ELCA does not help the cause of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. In fact, the ELCA perpetuates antisemitism under the guise of anti-Israelism.