Alpine Summit

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Lileks v. Presbyterians

James Lileks is a great opinion writer and usually has a lot of good things to say. This column is about how the Presbyterian church is backing the Palestinians and working to boycott companies in which the church owns stock. I imagine this is more symbolic than anything, but what gets me is that the church is involving itself in world politics.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) -- not the members, but the learned elders -- has announced it will use its stock holdings to target Israel for being mean to the Palestinians.

But they're not anti-Semites. Heavens, nay. Don't you dare question their philosemitism! No, they looked at the entire world, including countries that lop off your skull if you convert to Presbyterianism, and what did they choose as the object of their ire? A country the size of a potato chip hanging on the edge of a region noted for despotism and barbarity. By some peculiar coincidence, it happens to be full of Jews.

I've mentioned before about how the churches and clergy should (officially) stay out of politics. It's a divisive thing that can upset the patrons and has the potential to cause strife within the church; a church version of a civil war, all because of the leadership is using their position as a religious leader to advocate their personal politics.

Okay, now that that's out of the way; why would the Presbyterian church, of the two choices between Israelis and Palestinians, choose to back the ones whose culture is to target civillians and send their kids to "kill jews" camps?

It doesn't matter that one side is a liberal democracy that grants rights to women and non-Jews while the other has thugs and assassins for rulers and sends its kids to summer camps where they learn the joys of good ol' fashioned Jew-killing.

Of course it doesn't matter, Lileks. The point here is that the Israelis are in the wrong! Nevermind the bulldozers are used to destroy tunnel entrances in which bombs and munitions are smuggled into Israel, and the night vision goggles are used to spot suspicious, seditious, and subversive violent activity without putting defenders' lives in danger.

This is all symoblic anyway, but just like symbolic gestures, the meaning is the important thing. There is no way that the Presbyterian church is going to bankrupt, or even force the hand, of these companies. This act is going to end up bad for them in the long-run. They're on the wrong side of this and if it gets out among a good portion of their congregation that their church supports murderers and Islamic militants over a peaceful-by-nature country, they will lose members.