An American church has a glaring double standard when it comes to settlements in the West Bank and Nagorno-Karabakh - OPINION
An American business-focused The Wall Street Journal international daily newspaper has published an article entitled “Israel, Armenia and Presbyterians”, News.az reports.
Author of the article Eugene Kontorovich, director of the Center for the Middle East and International Law at George Mason University Scalia Law School, states in the article that American church has a glaring double standard when it comes to settlements in the West Bank and Nagorno-Karabakh: “The Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, whose annual General Assembly begins this weekend, has long been pugnaciously anti-Israel. It routinely passes resolutions accusing the Jewish state of “settler colonialism,” “apartheid,” and “illegal occupation.” Yet the PCUSA has a long-established program dedicated to supporting settlements in occupied territory—and funds a variety of pro-settler charities.
The PCUSA’s approach to the Israel-Arab conflict lies at the crossroads of liberation theology and replacement theology, the ancient doctrine, frequently invoked by anti-Semites, that God’s covenant with the Jews has been annulled in favor of others. Since 2014 the church has pursued a boycott of Israeli businesses. It also calls the Jewish state’s presence in biblical areas a “violation of international law” and “sin against God.”
The article noted that in Nagorno-Karabakh, settlements apparently aren’t a problem for the PCUSA: “The Azeri population fled during the first Karabakh war and hasn’t been allowed to return. At the same time, the Armenian leadership in Yerevan has encouraged the movement of settlers into the occupied territory. The PCUSA is the primary sponsor of the Jinishian Memorial Foundation, an Armenian charity that leads projects to support separatism in Karabakh.”
“The hypocrisy is individual as well as institutional. The head of the PCUSA’s “Israel/Palestine Mission Network”—its permanent office of Israeli delegitimization—is herself a vocal supporter of the Armenian occupation.
The PCUSA also offers political support for the settlements. In September 2020, another round of war broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia, with the victory of Azerbaijan. Jinishian launched a campaign to help the breakaway region, in partnership with Armenian settler organizations,” says the article.
The author emphasizes in the article that yet that is exactly what the PCUSA urges when it comes to the Jewish state: “It has made Armenian nationalism a funding priority while treating Zionism as a horrible crime. The PCUSA is far from alone.”
As E. Kontorovich has written in these pages, vocal critics of Jewish settlements in the Holy Land on the far left, such as Rep. Rashida Tlaib and senior officials at Human Rights Watch and CodePink, have been active supporters of Armenian settlements: “The PCUSA says anti-Semitism doesn’t drive its obsession with the Jewish state. Instead, it acts under pretense of upholding international law, which it claims Israel violates by allowing Jews to live in parts of the West Bank. The church sees itself as progressive, but its views on Israel are a throwback to something very old.”