Because we Care: Opposing Anti-Semitism
February 8, 2022 / By UNY Peace with Justice Task Force
“Because We Care,” a resolution passed at the 2021 Annual Conference, asked churches across the Upper New York Conference to engage in study and discussion of the “Cry for Hope,” a document from Palestinian Christians asking the world to relieve their suffering. We noted burdens imposed on Palestinians by military occupation, arbitrary restrictions, theft of land and water, brutal beatings and arrests, and expulsion from their homes.
Addressing these conditions, the respected human rights group Amnesty International released a detailed report on Feb. 1, 2022. Following years of meticulous research, Amnesty concluded: “Whether they live in Gaza, East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank, or Israel itself, Palestinians are treated as an inferior racial group and systematically deprived of their rights.” AI’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard stated that Israel’s “policies of segregation, dispossession and exclusion” toward Palestinians means that “the international community has a responsibility to act.”
Amnesty International rejects the suggestion that its study, or the work of activists for Palestinian justice, can be denigrated as “anti-Semitic.” Noting the proliferation of anti-Jewish threats in the U.S., Amnesty points to its consistent support of all in the Jewish community who suffer prejudice and violence. Amnesty also commends the Jewish community throughout the world as among the most conscientious in supporting and struggling for human rights. In fact, among those most critical of the state of Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights are conscientious Israeli and American Jews.
We as United Methodist Christians must affirm our long-standing opposition to anti-Semitism, and any devaluing of our sisters and brothers of Jewish faith and culture, as we stand also with Palestinians who are devalued by the apartheid structures of Israel’s present government.
We recognize that the Holocaust was a tragedy that stemmed in significant ways from centuries of religious bigotry. We repent of the residue of that bigotry in today’s neo-Nazi ideologies, distorted theologies, anti-Jewish misuse of the New Testament, and lingering anti-Jewish prejudice within our congregations or other Christian communities.
The bitter hatred suffered by Jews historically and at present can never be justified, nor can hatred directed against Arabs. Hatred is fundamentally contrary to the spirit of Jesus, and to all who seek what is true and holy.
A majority of the Palestinian community is of Muslim faith. But significant communities of Palestinian Christians live in close harmony with their Muslim neighbors in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, in Israel, and in neighboring countries. Religious animosity has never alienated Palestinians from one another.
Arabic language and culture has been a source of wisdom and unity, shared by Muslims and Christians alike. Arabic, like its close “cousin” Hebrew, is a Semitic language. Arabs and Jews share Semitic origins and culture. One can justly argue that anti-Semitism is visible in acts of injustice committed against both Jews and Arabs.