United Church of Christ vs Israel

United Church of Christ vs Israel

Luke Moon on July 21, 2021

The Ninth of Av, or Tisha B’av in Hebrew, is the day when Jews around the world fast and mourn to remember the destruction of the Temple in 70AD and the expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem in 132. It was also in 132 when Romans renamed the land Palestine after the Jewish people’s historic rivals, the Philistines. It is also the day the United Church of Christ (UCC) chose to affirm, by significant margin, their latest declaration against the State of Israel.

One of the original “seven sisters” of mainline Protestantism in the United States, the UCC is a once-influential denomination that boasted membership in the millions but is in an uninterrupted decline. Their recent General Synod considered resolutions on issues related to the environmenthuman sexuality, and even the Kingdom of Hawaii. Yet a General Synod seemingly cannot conclude without passage of a resolution uniquely condemning Israel.

This year’s resolution, “A Declaration of Just Peace Between Palestine and Israel,” claims to be for peace and opposed to antisemitism — and yet singles out Israel for special rebuke and calls on local churches to partner with some of the most radical anti-Israel organizations in the U.S. It also claims to be against supersessionism, and yet urges churches to critically examine the “use and interpretations of Scripture as well as liturgies and hymns that equate ancient Biblical Israel with the modern state…”

This type of antagonism against Israel is unsurprising. But more telling is that this resolution was adopted on the Ninth of Av. In addition to the destruction of the temple and the renaming of the land, there is a long list of anti-Israel and antisemitic acts that historically transpired on this day. A few highlights:

  • The First Crusade was declared by Pope Urban II on this day in 1095. Crusaders marched towards Jerusalem, slaughtering thousands of Jews who would not convert. Scores of Synagogues were set afire, some with Jews locked inside. Upon arrival in Jerusalem many of the inhabitants were killed. It is said that the blood of those killed in the city was up to the knees of the horses.
  • On July 18  1290, King Edward I issued the Edict of Expulsion which required all of the Jews to be expelled from the Kingdom of England. Not to be outdone, the Catholic Monarchs of Spain issued their own Edict of Expulsion and expelled the Jews from Spain in 1492.
  • On this day in 1942 deportations began from the Warsaw Ghetto to the new death camp at Treblinka. Unlike other concentration camps in Europe, Treblinka was expressly built for the purpose of mass killing. This was done to more efficiently fulfill the goal of the Final Solution to exterminate the Jews.
  • The bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires killed 86 and wounded more than 300 people on July 18 1994.

The UCC declaration is not the same as a terrorist attack or an expulsion but it confirms an ongoing standard against Israel not levied against any other nation or people. Although the UCC boasts of its broadminded liberality, its statements and policies show an ongoing animus against the world’s only majority Jewish country.

The UCC likes to “repent” for various historical misdeeds committed by other people often long ago. But perhaps it should repent for its own ongoing unfairness and double standards towards Jewish Israel. And perhaps it should reflect more on Christianity’s centuries of misdeeds against Jewish people and why Israel was created as a special refuge for Jews after so much persecution culminating with the Holocaust in majority Christian Europe.

Luke Moon is Deputy Director of the Philos Project. He previously served on the staff of the Institute on Religion & Democracy.

  1. Comment by David on July 21, 2021 at 8:49 am

    The Holocaust did not give anyone the right to behave like Nazis.

  2. Comment by Dan W on July 21, 2021 at 2:08 pm

    David the Israelis are not Nazis.

  3. Comment by David on July 21, 2021 at 5:05 pm

    Well let us consider some Nazi policies and see whether they apply:
    1. Ubermensch (“superior person”) One who is naturally entitled to dominate others.
    2. Judenrein (“purified of Jews”) Ethnic cleansing.
    3. Lebensraum (“living space’) The taking of lands deemed necessary for expansion.

    The Palestinians were badly treated by various parties: the Ottoman Turks, British colonial rulers of the Mandate, Jordan, and now Israel. We expect more of Israel as it was founded by Europeans and is the beneficiary of Western support. Today, it is bad, but the Arab states are worse.

  4. Comment by Dan W on July 21, 2021 at 11:19 pm

    Many groups, not just Nazis, have been guilty of “Taking lands deemed necessary for expansion.”

    What Israeli policies compare to your other examples? Or are they just antisemitic slurs?

  5. Comment by Jonathan E Burack on July 22, 2021 at 8:00 am

    Just to follow up on Dan W’s point, what taken land do you sit on and take, David? My guess is almost nowhere else on earth could you sit on land not taken and taken far more ruthlessly than the Jews of Israel ever took (back) the land of Israel.

    The “they are like the Nazis” charge is one of the most ridiculous bits of rhetoric the human race has invented (had Hitler not existed, the shouters of “it’s like Nazism” would have had to invent him).

  6. Comment by David on July 22, 2021 at 11:33 am

    The place where I live as the whole of PA, NJ, and NY was purchased from the natives and not “taken” as other parts of the country. Locally, the price was one axe for 5 acres with the natives retaining the right to harvest bullrushes. There were some civilized early Americans.

  7. Comment by David on July 22, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    The place where I live was purchased from the native tribe as was the whole of PA, NJ, and NY. Locally, the price was one ax per 5 acres with the natives retaining the right to harvest the “bullrushes.”

    Do not underestimate the influence of German culture in the founding of Israel. The attitudes of the West Bank settlers prove my point readily.

  8. Comment by David on July 22, 2021 at 12:22 pm

    Sorry for the double posting.

  9. Comment by Jeff on July 22, 2021 at 10:04 pm

    David, so I understand your forebears paid fair & square with ax blades for your back yard… therefore, unlike those thieving Jews you despise, YOU are pure as the driven snow in honest title to “your” land. In your own estimation, of course.

    Curious, though, how you know that the “native” tribes that traded “their” land for “your” ax blades didn’t brutally rip that land off by murdering a prior native tribe… who took it by force from ANOTHER native tribe… who prior to that… &etc

    Oh, but maybe in your view it doesn’t count if it’s just natives murdering and stealing from other natives. But of course a woke dude like yourself wouldn’t subscribe to that sort of racist view… or would you?

  10. Comment by George on July 23, 2021 at 4:52 pm

    Israel makes up about .014 % of all the lands on earth. About the size of Massachusetts.
    Can’t they have one place to live in peace without someone wanting to kill them. This hatred for the Jews never ends. If my ancestors had gone through what their’s have, I wouldn’t put up with much either.
    One more thing. David, you have no idea of what your talking about. I believe you just enjoy stirring the pot.

  11. Comment by Kenneth L Cohen on July 23, 2021 at 5:18 pm


    If you don’t like Israel, why not compare it to Mussolini? Mao? Milošević? Attila the Hun?

    But no, you compare Israel to Hitler.

    It takes a very special type of antisemite to use that analogy.

    Shame on you.

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