American media rarely takes note of the March 16 anniversary of Rachel Corrie's death. But it will provide ample coverage of AIPAC's annual celebration of the long time love affair between Israel and the U.S. Congress.
Over 400 members of Congress are expected to attend this year's AIPAC conference. Some of the representatives and senators will be granted the honor of gaining additional media exposure when speaking to the assembled AIPAC members.
In return for their unswerving obsequiousness, these members of Congress pocket campaign cash contributions and perhaps more importantly, they take home a guaranteed AIPAC PPP (political protection plan).
The plan protects incumbents against primary opponents. The plan also guarantees campaign strategists who comb an opponent's record for the slightest action or statement available to reshape and brand with the deadly anti-semitic designation.
Religious groups, like the Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) operate without the protection of AIPAC's political protection plan. So it was that when the IPMN produced an excellent and well-researched study guide (complete with DVD), appropriately named Zionism Unsettled, a storm of protest rose against them.
Modern Israel's claim to the lands of Judea and Samaria is rooted in a political ideology called Zionism, a political movement formed in the late 19th century. It is not a biblical promise from the time of Jesus.
The Zionism Unsettled study guide
(image by Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN))
The Zionism Unsettled study guide has both Christian and Jewish Zionists "unsettled."
Chris Leighton, Executive Director of the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies, produced an "open letter" on February 6, attacking his fellow Presbyterians for not uniting Zionism and Judaism..
"The Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) and their allies have once again mounted initiatives that advance an extremist posture with respect to the Palestinian-Israeli impasse. Their agenda threatens to polarize our community, betray relationships with our Jewish colleagues, and ultimately undermine our credibility as 'peacemakers.'"
Brant Rosen, a congregational rabbi from Evanston, IL, began his response to Leighton on Rosen's blog, Shalom Rav:
"I believe your characterization of my sacred tradition is incorrect -- and dangerously so. It is prejudicial in the extreme to equate Zionism with Judaism itself.
"Zionism -- that is, the movement to create a Jewish nation-state in historic Palestine -- is in fact a political movement that was born in 19th century Europe.
"As such, it was a conscious and radical break with centuries of Jewish tradition that strongly cautioned against the establishment of an independent Jewish state in the land.
"While it is certainly true, as you write, that the yearning for a 'return to Zion' is suffused throughout Jewish tradition, it is important to note that this yearning was pointedly directed toward a far off messianic future."
Rabbi Rosen closed his blog posting: