Build up the body of Christ. Support the Pentecost Offering.

PC(USA) antisemitism webinar set for Thursday via Zoom

Registration is required for the event with Rabbi Alana Suskin and the Rev. Denise Anderson, director of Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries

by Darla Carter | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will hold a seminar at 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday called “Antisemitism, Israel-Palestine and the Church: A Conversation,” featuring the Rev. Denise Anderson of Compassion, Peace and Justice ministries and Rabbi Alana Suskin of the Pomegranate Initiative.

The webinar takes place in the wake of mounting tensions in Israel-Palestine and a disturbing uptick in antisemitism in the U.S. and abroad, said Anderson, who is CPJ’s director. The 225th General Assembly of the PC(USA) offered condemnations of antisemitism and Islamophobia last summer while also expressing solidarity with Palestinian Christians.

The Presbyterian News Service conducted an email interview with Anderson, which is excerpted below.

Q: Who should consider coming to this webinar?

A: I would hope any and every person in the PC(USA) would consider coming, but I’ll say this webinar could be helpful for people who are wrestling with how to reconcile the GA’s actions concerning antisemitism and Israel-Palestine. It’s also for people who want to make sense of the news they’re seeing out of Israel-Palestine and learn how to advocate for the rights of Palestinians in partnership and conversation with Jewish neighbors.

The Rev. Denise Anderson, Co-Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly (2016), is now the director of the Compassion, Peace & Justice ministries of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. (Photo by Michael Whitman)

Q: How will your friendship with Rabbi Suskin enhance this webinar? How long ago did you work with her on the Poor People’s Campaign?

A: Rabbi Suskin and I began working together from the inception of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival in 2017. We both served on the Maryland Coordinating Committee until I relocated in 2018 but have stayed in touch ever since. Our friendship affords this conversation a certain honesty and candor that may be harder to achieve when people don’t know each other. We each know the heart of the other, which I think helps us to be brave.

Q:  You have referred to wanting this webinar to be a “safe space.” Please elaborate.

While safety means different things to different people, Rabbi Suskin is well-versed in teaching the subject matter to audiences like these and is passionate about telling the truth in love. Neither of us are people who shy away from hard questions, so this webinar will be a place where those hard questions are welcome.

Q: How does this subject matter dovetail with the Matthew 25 foci?

A: Rabbi Suskin shared during “Just Talk Live” that much of contemporary antisemitism is rooted in the construction of Jewish people as a race, which served to diminish their rights under the law and gave license to state-sanctioned and extra-judicial violence toward them. This webinar will look at the complexities of how racial constructions have negatively impacted Jewish people in the U.S. and throughout the world and how they impact Palestinians. The last G.A. added militarism as (an) intersecting focus of Matthew 25. State-sanctioned violence against any group of people demands attention from the church and all people of faith or goodwill.

Q: Do you worry that thoughtful critiques of Israeli policy and the use of terms like “apartheid” might fuel antisemitic remarks or acts inadvertently?

A: I hope that webinar attendees come into a better understanding of why critiques of Israeli policy elicit such a response. I also believe the church has much to atone for regarding our own history of antisemitism and must take steps to repair relationships with Jewish neighbors while advocating against Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to add?

A: This webinar was born out of a conversation Rabbi Suskin and I had about Christian Zionism. While I maintained that Christian Zionism is incredibly problematic and Christians had better leave Zionism and its nuances to Jewish people, Rabbi Suskin reminded me that internal Jewish strife exists about this, too. She believes Christians can and should have a critique of the occupation, and building allyships between Jews, Christians, and Muslims offers the best chance of Israelis and Palestinians moving forward in the region.”

To register, go here. The event will not be livestreamed.

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

  • Subscribe to the PC(USA) News

  • Interested in receiving either of the PC(USA) newsletters in your inbox?

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.