Trying to staunch major traumas with band-aids is a losing strategy.
The following quote I read recently precisely sums up some of the challenges we face at the moment and our often inadequate responses:
“We don’t want to put a band-aid on our problems that we keep talking about. We want to get down to the nitty-gritty and do some surgery.”
As has been pointed out on previous occasions the preference for politicians, in particular, to avoid taking surgical action when some sort of response is called for more often than not leads to greater problems further down the track. Running for cover and living in fear of upsetting foes and so-called friends results in mixed messages and an ultimate inability to achieve satisfactory outcomes.
Appeasing and procrastinating is a recipe for disaster but despite this having been proven over and over again our decision-makers and their willing associates continue to hurtle down the same disastrous one-way dead-end road.
In the last week or so the Church of England in the UK resolved to apologise to the Jewish Community for its culpability in forcing Jews, eight hundred years ago, to wear special identifying clothing, accusing them of blood libels, pogroms and finally expelling them from the country. Ironically, it was not the Church of England which was responsible for these medieval edicts but the Roman Catholic Church authorities.
In the absence of any sort of belated contrition from that quarter, it is at least commendable that the Archbishop of Canterbury felt moved to issue a formal plea for forgiveness for something that his Church was not directly responsible for enforcing at the time. It has taken eight centuries for anyone to say sorry and one has to wonder how many poisonous seeds were planted in people’s minds over that period.
Obviously, there must have been many because nowadays we can see the noxious weeds sprouting in all parts of the UK and spreading into all sectors of society. This is a classic example of how applying band-aids are a futile gesture especially in the face of intentionally inflicted delegitimization. Once upon a time theological hate of Judaism was the accepted manner whereby Jews could be officially sanctioned, shunned and expelled. Except for a few die-hard groups who still believe we are doomed to purgatory, this has now given way to sanctioning, shunning and expelling the Jewish State. Unfortunately, large swathes of various Christian denominations now subscribe to campaigns for the elimination of Israel and the demonization of its Jewish citizens. According to one of the UK Methodist Church websites the number of Christian Churches promoting and supporting divestment from Israel encompasses a wide spectrum of denominations. See below:
The United Methodist Church
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The United Church of Christ
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Episcopal Church
The Alliance of Baptists
Mennonite Church (USA)
American Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
Friends Fiduciary Corporation (Quakers)
Methodist Federation for Social Action
National Executive Council of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship
National Coalition of American Nuns
Conference of Major Superiors of Men (Roman Catholic Church)
US Dominican Palestine Coordinating Committee (Roman Catholic Church)
Lake Erie Yearly Meeting – Quakers spanning 3 states: Ohio, Michigan and Western Pennsylvania
The United Church of Canada
Canadian Friends Service Committee (Quakers)
The Methodist Church of Britain
The Church of England
Quakers of Great Britain
The Church of Ireland
The Church of Sweden
World Council of Churches Central Committee
Australian Council of Churches
Malaysian Council of Churches
South African Council of Churches
Christian Aid (UK and Ireland)
Quaker Council for European Affairs
Pax Christi International
Pax Christi Netherlands
Pax Christi Germany
Norwegian Church Aid
ICCO: Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation
CORDAID: Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid (Netherlands)
Comprehensive as this list seems to be, one should still bear in mind that there are large numbers of committed Christians who love and support Israel and oppose the anti-Israel policies of their leaders. The question that follows however is what should our response be to these modern-day deniers of Zion?
Unfortunately, this is where in far too many cases our message does not resonate in any effective manner. Those engaged in interfaith outreach are often terrified to rock the boat. Some boycotting Churches have already written the Jews out of Zion, censured the psalms of King David and delegitimized a Jewish presence in the very parts of the land where our ancestors lived more than two thousand years ago. We should be asserting our historic rights and demanding a rejection of revisionist history as a condition for our continuing dialogue.
Critics of this approach assert that it is better to “overlook” these anti-Israel dogmas and thereby hope that at some stage those advocating our elimination will “see the light” and have a revelation on the road to Damascus. Unfortunately, this sort of wishful thinking ignores the fact that it is a dialogue of the deaf because the peddlers of BDS have already decided that Israel has been born in original sin and is beyond any sort of redemption.
The stark truth needs no further revelation because the aims of those who wish to expel Israel from the family of nations are crystal clear.
Just as their co-religionists eight hundred years ago in the United Kingdom and then the rest of Europe embarked on a “divinely ordained” path of ostracizing, demonizing and excluding their local Jews, the current “crusaders” of writing Jews out of their homeland are trying their best to finish the job.
Should we stay silent and hope for things to change?
I maintain that the time for applying band-aids to major wounds is long past. We should be no longer prepared to meekly submit and suffer silently while hoping that eight centuries hence some sort of confession and apology might be forthcoming.
Michael Kuttner is a Jewish New Zealander who for many years was actively involved with various communal organisations connected to Judaism and Israel. He now lives in Israel and is J-Wire’s correspondent in the region.