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The Church of Scotland – Institutionally anti-Semitic?

The Church of Scotland apparently anti-Semitic document – The Inheritance of Abraham, a report on the Promised Land,has come in for renewed criticism, this time not from the Scottish Jewish community, but from a well-respected Christian group.

The Emmaus Group seek understanding of the condition of minority groups, especially Christians and Jews, in Islamic countries. Their aim is to promote understanding and reconciliation between the Church and Israel in the face of mutual challenges and threats and they have now presented a clear and well thought-out critique of the Church of Scotland (CoS) and what they perceive as unequivocal anti-Semitism and total denial of Jewish human rights.

In a hard-hitting riposte, compiled by British and Palestinian Evangelical and Orthodox Christians, Emmaus Group describes “Inheritance of Abraham” as; “Taken out of context and misleading”; its authors “fail to understand the serious existential threats Israel faced from its inception” and “seem to have overlooked that Israel has, in its 65 years of existence, had to defend itself in seven significant wars and faces on-going border tensions, threats and assaults of its citizens whom it is obliged by law to defend.” Emmaus goes as far as to assert that the document is “blasphemous.”

The Emmaus Group concluded its censure by reminding the Church of Scotland of the words of Martin Luther King:

Returning hate for hate multiplies hate adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.  Darkness cannot drive out darkness – only light can do that.”

CoS continues to spread misleading—indeed false— statements about Israel and the Arab-Israel conflict despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

In its August 2013 edition of WM magazine,

Kenny Roger, CoS Mission Partner & Middle East Secretary, claims; 

Bethlehem is also very special. The only problem being the huge wall that surrounds it and
the military occupation that makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for the people of Bethlehem and the whole of the West Bank to go about their daily lives”.

From many reports in the media, Kenny Roger must know that this statement is false in at least two respects. The largest part of the barrier is no “wall” but a security fence. Secondly, the barrier does not “encircle” Bethlehem but instead bypasses its northern and western sides. 

An accepted source of these facts is B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights:


Why do the CoS and others have so much difficulty getting accessible facts right about the security barrier? Kenny Roger resides in Israel and, as a frequent visitor to Judea and Samaria, he can readily check the sources.

But the CoS mission partner continues to spread the following false and unsupported assertions apparently oblivious that these lies have been repeatedly discredited and comprehensively demolished:

There is no doubt that Israel sees security as an issue, but that raises questions when you witness first-hand what ‘ensuring security for Israel’ means: Checkpoints, soldiers, arrests, control, injustice. The Palestinian people are being denied their rights to freedom and life in all its fullness. The majority Palestinians want to live in peace and be in control of their own country and destiny. That is surely something that we need to stand up for – whichever way we read our Bible, it is in fact a Gospel imperative”.

The Church of Scotland cannot deny that currently, Jews, Christians and Muslims can worship in Jewish Jerusalem.  Evangelical Christians can worship freely in Israel but the same cannot be said of the Palestinian territories?

In claiming “The majority Palestinians want to live in peace and be in control of their own country and destiny”, Kenny Roger and the CoS turn a blind eye to the fact that it is the land of the Jewish State of Israel that they want to live in and control. A land ethnically cleansed of Jews! 

If this is what is being proposed by the CoS and, if as Kenny Roger claims “We need to stand up for”, then CoS has become, or is fast becoming, institutionally anti-Semitic.

It is recognised by reputed scholars of Middle Eastern history, and highlighted by the Emmaus Group: 

Today’s Palestinians originate from many countries having no specific national identity.  There are Greek, Italian, Turkish, Cypriot, Arab, Egyptian and Jordanian genealogical roots found in modern Palestinian society.  There has never been a state of Palestine in history because the land has been occupied continuously since the Romans.  The Byzantine era followed, then Arab-Islamic invaders, the Crusaders, Saladin, the Mamluks, Ottomans and latterly the British.  But a remnant of the Jews has always existed”.

It is hoped that the Church of Scotland will acknowledge and absorb much of what the Emmaus Group has to say but its recent history of double standards, in relation to Israel and the Jewish people, leaves this in doubt.

The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of the Scottish Friends of Israel.

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