I am writing in regard to the Feb. 23 article “Presbyterian Stances Roil Relations With Jews.” As a supporter of the U.S. Constitution, I was stunned that the article appeared to announce that the Presbyterian Church (USA) had supplanted Secretary of State John Kerry and the State Department as the referee over the current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
I was relieved that that was not the case. Rather, the article merely pointed out that a few Presbyterians who, without the “imprimatur” of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) or its officials, were seeking another round of publicity for their “study” on what they deemed to be the root causes of the Israeli-Palestinian imbroglio.
These activist Presbyterians invented their root causes of the conflict and merely “scrupled” what were the real causes. Essentially they say that if the Jews were not present in the Middle East there would be no conflict. Naturally such a position, especially when it appears to be voiced with the apparent or presumed authority of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), cannot help but raise tensions if not roil hackles.
As to the Pittsburgh Presbytery, it has an opportunity for its church members to meet and greet members of local synagogues not for the purpose of resolving the Middle East conundrum but simply to get to know some real work-a-day Jews and perhaps even get a real perspective on what their worries are and what they actually think about the conflict without the collateral static of activist Presbyterians.
It does appear that Gregg Roman, director of the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, has a good handle on why the situation is so difficult to resolve. In the meantime, Presbyterians might gain something from a reading of Psalm 24 as would their Jewish counterparts with that Psalm’s numerical equivalent.
ARTHUR G. GILKES JR.