Protestant Denominations and Israel.--

John Hindreaker has a nice article in the Weekly Standard about the biased attitude toward terrorism in Israel of the largest Lutheran denomination, the EVANGELICAL LUTHERAN CHURCH IN AMERICA (ELCA):

The ELCA's pronouncements on the Middle East are so one-sided as to suggest a dissociation from reality. Hamas gunmen brandish firearms as they celebrate Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and vow to continue their effort to exterminate the Jews; yet the ELCA thinks the chief threat to peace in the region is Israel's attempt to keep these terrorists out [by building a fence]. For that matter, the ELCA seems more worried about Israeli tax policy than Palestinian terrorism.

Hinderaker is probably right that the source of the bias is more likely to be the church's leadership, rather than rank-and-file Lutherans. It seems as if elites are more prone to certain kinds of moral blindness and excusing of evil.

UPDATE: Leviatan Slayer counters: "Israel is in a rough spot, to say the least, and I don't really know enough about the situation to comment one way or the other, but surely it's not an unreasonable position to be skeptical of the desirability of the 'security fence'."

I would certainly agree with Slayer that it is not unreasonable to be skeptical of the fence, but that is not quite what Hinderaker was criticizing the Lutheran Church for:

The ELCA paved the way for the "Peace Not Walls" resolution with an article in the May 2005 issue of the denomination's official magazine, the Lutheran. The Lutheran article was permeated by anti-Israel bias and riddled with false allegations against Israel. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) identified 12 major factual errors, and one overriding omission:

A crucial omission marred the [May 2005] article as a whole. There was not one reference to Palestinian terrorism originating from terrorist strongholds in West Bank cities, the causal factor in Israel's erecting a protective barrier. The omission is indicative of the striking disregard for Israeli suffering and loss of life that underpins the piece.

The failure even to mention, let alone denounce, Palestinian terrorism is a consistent hallmark of the ELCA's writings on the Middle East. The "Peace Not Walls" resolution, like the Lutheran article, makes no specific mention of Palestinian terrorism, never acknowledges that Israel is building the fence to keep out mass murderers, not to steal a few acres of land, and gives no hint that the fence has saved many Israeli lives by making it more difficult for terrorists to slip into Israel.

Hinderaker's point, which seems sound to me, is that one can't possibly discuss the merits, morality, or effects on peace of the fence without addressing why it was built. From the Lutheran account, it's as if the fence was being built for spite, rather than protection. The Lutheran Church is being criticized mainly for being "one-sided."