Israel’s friends on college campuses have gotten used to boycott advocates scheduling their events and votes during Shabbat and the Jewish holidays. But apparently, church-based anti-Israel partisans have begun to realize the advantages of holding their programs during the holiest days on the Jewish calendar.
Data point one (OK, it’s my only one right now – but not for long, I suspect): starting tonight, and running straight through the Shabbat weekend between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a group called the Society for Biblical Studies (SBS) will be holding their national conference titled: Christians and the Holy Land: What Does the Lord Require?.
Now in days like the ones we live in, you might think that topics like the disappearance of Christianity from almost all of the places cleansed of Judaism more than half a century ago might be on the agenda. And for a group with a name like the Society for Biblical Studies running an event designed to try to divine the will of the divine, you might suppose their lineup of speakers would include theologians and other religious thinkers and leaders whose interest in “The Holy Land,” extends to the conflagration consuming that land’s neighborhood.
So who is on the lineup for this week’s event?
Well high on their guest list is Stephen Walt, one of the co-authors of The Israel Lobby, the book which helped mainstream the meme that Jewish power dictates American foreign policy, a thesis that – shaky enough when it was first proposed eight years ago – pretty much lies in ruins after this month’s Iran drama.
Right below Walt on the list is Ilan Pappe, a “New Historian” specializing in peddling long-debunked libels directed against the Jewish state to audiences around the world. And where would a local anti-Israel event be without an appearance by Sarah Roy, a “political economist” with apparently no training in either subject who specializes in using Holocaust imagery to bash the nation which emerged from its ashes while serving as Hamas’ #1 academic cheerleader.
Now I don’t want to leave the impression that the SBS conference will feature no women or men of the cloth. For the lineup also includes Jean Zeru, Presiding Clerk of Ramallah’s Quakers. And while one can only speculate about what she has to say based on what we know of Ramallah and the Quakers, there is no need to guess what Mark Braverman of Kairos USA will be talking about, given the vital role Kairos has played in infecting the leadership of many Mainline Protestant churches with the BDS virus.
And lest you are worried that a perspective other than the obvious one every one of these speakers has been pushing for years might seep into the three-day program, the whole event is going to be kicked off tonight with a presentation by Noam Chomsky.
That should leave us with a “nuff said” regarding the probable focus of the SBS confab, a focus that isn’t likely to differ from what is said at any major gathering of anti-Israel propagandists (even if the SBS show seems more extensive – and expensive – than the usual cast that appears at such events). But getting back to the title of their program, what might Mssrs. Chomsky, Walt, Pappe and Braverman, as well as the rest of the men and women with whom they will be sharing a stage, have to say about what the Lord requires?
The answer to that question gets back to the point just made about recruitment of the churches into the anti-Israel fold. For while Kairos (and its friends at Sabeel) have managed to corrupt the leaders of some Mainline churches (notably the Presbyterians whose leaders spent a decade sacrificing everything the church stands for – spirit, fairness, peacemaking, justice, commitment to its members – to the BDS Moloch), those members (at least in the US) refuse to join in the Israel bashing with sufficient speed and at sufficient numbers. So a program designed to a claim contemporary (and ultimately secular) political agenda represents the will of the Almighty is just the latest attempt to push the attitudes that will be on display at this week’s SBS event further down into the pews.
Looking over the Society for Biblical Studies’ web site, their main mission seems to be delivering “unique and distinctive Holy Land tours and Christian pilgrimages.” Which raises the question of how this week’s conference fits the agenda of a travel agency. Some Googling around for writings from the group’s leaders seems to demonstrate a penchant for praising any publication ready to build an anti-Israel narrative around Christian iconography (including this fulsome callout for Zionism Unsettled). So perhaps SBS (or at least its leaders) has more on the agenda than upping the spiritual content of Middle East tourism.
The trouble is, such a mission just replaces obnoxious but non-lethal Disnified Bible tourism with a mission no less secular than Disney’s – albeit one much uglier and potentially more dangerous.
I suppose the local Jewish community could organize a similarly hostile event aimed at those things local Christians hold most dear, and schedule it for Easter Sunday. But the notion of harming our neighbors and interfaith partners just to score points against Israel’s political enemies is something so loathsome I can’t think of anyone (even among die-hard Israel fans I occasionally hang out with) who would even consider such an option.
So forgive us, SBS, for spending this week and next thinking about how we might have failed last year, and what we can do better in the year coming up – and not getting that worked up by a group which has decided that we must atone not just for our sins, but for everyone else’s as well.