The new millennium has seen increased hostility to Israel among many progressive constituencies, including several mainline Protestant churches. The evangelical community in the US remains steadfastly Zionist, so overall support for financial aid to Israel remain secure. But the cultural impact of accusations that Israel is a settler colonialist or apartheid regime are nonetheless serious; they are proving sufficient to make support for the Jewish state a political issue for the first time in many decades. Despite a general movement in emphasis from theology to politics in church debate, there remain theological issues at the center of church discussion. The Protestant church with the longest running and most well-funded anti-Zionist constituency is the Presbyterian church in the US. In the last decade, its Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) has produced several increasingly anti-Zionist books designed to propel divestment resolutions in the church’s annual meeting. The most widely debated of these was 2014’s Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide. This essay mounts a detailed analysis and critique of the book which documents the IPMN’s steady movement toward antisemitic positions. Among the theological issues underlying debate in Protestant denominations are the status of the divine covenant with the Jewish people, the role that the gift of land has as part of that covenant, and the nature of the characterization of the Jews as a “chosen people”. These, and other issues underlying Protestant anti-Zionism, have led to the formation of Presbyterians for Middle East Peace (PFMP), a group, unlike IPMN, that supports a two-state solution. The competing positions these groups have taken are of interest to all who want to track the role that Christian denominations have played in debates about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
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