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SWC Extremely Concerned By Flawed Presbyterian Palestinian ‘Kairos’ Study Guide

June 24, 2011

The Simon Wiesenthal Center voices its profound disappointment that the Presbyterian Church—USA (PCUSA) study guide does not accurately portray the Kairos Palestine Document (KPD) for what it is: a revisionist document of hatred for Israel and contempt of Jews.

In late 2009, a group of Palestinian clergy issued the Kairos Palestine Document (KPD). It cast a political agenda in theological garb, re-writing history, ignoring Jewish roots and presence in the Holy Land for thousands of years. It placed all blame for the tragic circumstances of Palestinians on Israel, and none on the actions of Palestinians who blew up innocent Israelis in restaurants and launched rockets at school busses. It urged Christians to revert to the replacement theology that denied legitimacy of Judaism and Jews. It called for full boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. In the arena of words and policies, it was a declaration of war on the Jewish state, and a demand that all Christians join in the battle.

Jewish groups were highly critical of KPD, along with many Christian voices. As a result, PCUSA’s General Assembly (GA) last year voted only to embrace Kairos’ calls for “hope for liberation, nonviolence, love of enemy, and reconciliation,” and commissioned a study guide, which was released last week.

“Our hopes that this guide would instruct readers on both sides of the conflict,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Jewish human rights NGO. “Instead, to the ordinary reader, it reads like an endorsement of the Kairos document by the leadership of the Church. Where the guide does offer suggestions for reading, it chooses almost exclusively from documents long criticized as hostile to Israel.”

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the Center’s Director of Interfaith Affairs, attended last year’s GA, and was part of the group that brokered the new “Spirit of Minneapolis” that is supposed to put Church policies and materials on a more even keel. He said, “The Jewish community is mindful and appreciative of the great effort that a few members of the Monitoring Group expended in preventing an even worse document. But clearly, there are elements entrenched in Church leadership who have not worked for the reconciliation of Palestinians and Israelis, nor for the majority of Presbyterians who look favorably upon Israel, while mindful of their responsibilities to Palestinian Christians.”

“Many hoped that the ‘Spirit of Minneapolis’ would produce reach change in a short period of time,” continued Rabbi Adlerstein. “It looks like the more likely source of progress will come from the rank and file Church members, who we can only hope will prepare their own study guide that will shed light, not heat on the complicated Israel/Palestine issue,” Rabbi Adlerstein concluded.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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