Palestine and Israel

The Little Told Reality

Open Letter From Doug Huneke

Friends, on Saturday, January 31, the Presbytery of the Redwoods passed yet another anti-Israel overture and supported the curriculum, "Zionism Unsettled."

The presbytery Council for the second time (2012 and 2014) limited response times to 2 and 1 minute respectively, denied requests that there be an opposition statement given equal time with that of the presenters of the overture.  Clearly, a timid Council and presbyter fearfully denied free and open discussion and the honored Presbyterian practice of having equal time for an opposition in a divisive and controversial action.  The presbyter's ruling, as parliamentarian, on several amendments were predictably ill-considered and arguably wrong.  So be it.  Please recall the special meeting of Presbytery in 2010, one of the most well attended meetings in my 30 years in this presbytery, when both sides on a San Anselmo sponsored overture on Israel and Palestinian issues had equal time to present and there were no limits on individual responses.  That meeting met the highest standards of intellectual thought and spiritual discernment we must expect of the Presbyterian tradition. The meeting on Saturday and in 2012 utterly failed to reach such standards.

As these overtures go forward and as "Zionism Unsettled" is falsely promoted as representational of our denomination, immense damage is being done to the close ties each of us has sought to build with the Jewish communities in the bay area.  It is well known that individually we are not in concert with the overtures and that curriculum.  However, the Jewish communities around the country are forced to confront an increasingly anti-Judaic and, all too often, anti-Semitic trend in our denomination.  While we work for a just and peaceful two state solution and integrous and constructive Presbyterian engagement with Israelis, Palestinians, and the American Jewish Community, forces within our denomination (and our presbytery particularly) continue to promote overtures and programs that violate the letter and spirit of recent General Assembly actions calling for such constructive engagement.  These actions are destructive in that they seek to marginalize and demonize the Jewish State and these actions are taken without any regard for Presbyterian and Jewish relations, locally and nationally.

 (1)  What shall we do about these tragic realities in our denomination?  (2)  Shall we meet and strategize?  (3)  Let me know if you are willing to meet.  I am more than willing to host.  

 And, (4) who else should we include (please give me names and email addresses if possible; do we have any folk at SFTS who agree with us - who)?

 I have attached an excellent piece by Presbyterian Teaching Elder, Chris Leighton for you to read and below is a link to a prominent Jewish perspective on these issues, offered by the Wiesenthal Center:   These should provide a foundation for our discussion. 

 FYI:  I have sent a private copy of this email to rabbi leaders in Marin and San Francisco so that they are aware of the disquiet in the presbytery and the efforts to prevent the damage that will be done if these overtures are passed and if the Office of the General Assembly fails to clarify and distance the denomination  from the curriculum.

 Peace, Shalom, Salaam,

 Doug Huneke