Washington DC Episcopalians’ condemnation of Israeli “apartheid” confirms an awakening to Israel’s long-festering human rights problem within the liberal U.S. “elite,” and growing immunity to smears leveled by Israel’s advocates.
By Steve France | Mondoweiss | Feb 2, 2022
The awakening must spread up to the top leadership of the denominations (in the case of Episcopalians that means the bishops of the Church), and reach down to the millions of regular members.
Episcopalians of the nation’s Capital voted big against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians on January 29, adopting resolutions to “oppose Israel’s apartheid” (by 73%), to “confront Christian Zionism” (by 76%), and to “defend the right to boycott” (by 80%). The right to boycott is under assault from anti-BDS laws enacted in dozens of states and championed in Congress.
The latest church action followed similar emphatic statements by Episcopalians in Chicago, Rochester, Vermont, and Olympia, all aimed at the Christian denomination’s General Convention in Baltimore in June-July, which will be asked to back Palestinian rights with the same force as it did the cause of Black South Africans in the 1970s and 80s. (Full disclosure: I helped urge the Washington diocese to act.)
The legacy and spirit of one of South Africa’s prophets of liberation, Desmond Tutu, inspired the annual convention of women and men in Washington, DC, who belong to the same Anglican/Episcopalian communion of which he was an archbishop. When Tom Getman of St. Mark’s Church Capitol Hill introduced the anti-apartheid resolution — in effect inviting the convention to cross the Rubicon into fundamental opposition to Israel’s apartheid system — he flashed back to the day in 1980 when the then little-known African leader showed up unannounced at Getman’s desk in the office of then-Senator Mark Hatfield (R-Oregon). The young aide was instantly entranced by Tutu’s joyful if burning rhetoric of holy liberation.