Presbyterian Church Group Under Fire for Likening Israel to Nazi Germany

Pro-BDS Christian movement accused of stoking anti-Semitic hatred

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee anti-Semitism
An anti-Semitic protester at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2019 / petition
June 27, 2022

An organization representing Presbyterian churches across America is poised to pass an anti-Israel resolution that opponents say endangers the Jewish community and will contribute to anti-Semitic violence.

The Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, an umbrella group representing churches across the country, is considering a resolution that accuses Israel of "apartheid" and likens the Jewish state's treatment of Palestinians to Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime. The resolution falsely accuses Israel of stealing Palestinian water supplies "for Jewish-only settlements" and "denying the right to freedom of residence to Palestinians." It also says Israel is "dividing the population along racial lines by the creation of separate reserves and ghettos for the Palestinians."

The vote on this resolution—which both Christian and Jewish opponents say is anti-Semitic—is set to take place on Tuesday at the Presbyterian Church's general assembly gathering, which brings together Presbyterian leaders from across the country.

The Philos Action League, a Christian community group that works with Jewish allies to combat anti-Semitism and the spread of hatred within the Christian community, is urging Presbyterian Church group members to reject the measure, saying it will contribute to the rising tide of anti-Semitism in the United States.

The anti-Israel resolution "fuels hate" against Jews and pro-Israel activists by falsely making "the only Jewish place for self-determination" out to be "evil and in likeness to Nazi Germany," according to a copy of a Philos Action League letter sent to the group's leadership and obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. The league delivered copies of the letter in-person to at least 11 Presbyterian churches and is running advertisements in Louisville—where the general assembly conference will be held this week—that call on church members to reject the anti-Israel measure.

The Presbyterian Church is no stranger to anti-Israel controversy. The organization has long backed the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement and called on BDS supporters to isolate Israel for waging a so-called apartheid against the Palestinians. While the church's rhetoric has been condemned as anti-Semitic before, the Philos Action League and its backers say its latest campaign could fuel violence against Jews.

The latest resolution "promotes claims of individuals who have a record of making anti-Semitic statements" and "erases Jewish experiences and witness," the letter states. "Basic human rights are being stripped away from Jewish life in the U.S. and beyond with the constant threat of violence, intimidation, and discrimination. Unfortunately, Christianity has a history of bias against the Jewish people."

The resolution invokes the Holocaust as justification for boycotting Israel. The church claims it is wrong for members to "silence their criticism of Israel's polices because of the history of the Nazi Holocaust and the failure of many Christians to speak out at the time."

"Christians too vowed that never again would they be silent if a government passed laws establishing and maintaining the domination by one ethnic group over another ethnic group through systematic separation, oppression, and denial of basic human rights," the resolution states, using language typically reserved for the Holocaust. "Silence in the face of evil was wrong then, and it is wrong now."

Such language leads to real-world violence, according to Philos and its allies.

"There is an epidemic of hate plaguing our community, and the Christian community has sat by watching it happen and has done very little for too long," Philos states in its letter, which is backed by the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement, the Israel Center for Jewish-Christian Relations, and other faith groups.