Reprinted from November 5 2014
This past summer, the Presbyterian Church made it clear that its leadership sides with the Palestinians in the Israel-Arab conflict. In a controversial vote, taken this summer, the Church voted to divest Church funds from companies that do business with Israel. But what does the Church membership think?
It turns out that many Presbyterians are looking at the situation with open minds. JETS recently provided an opportunity for a group of Presbyterians to engage and hear more about the situation in an unbiased atmosphere of open learning.
The residents of the River Landing at Sandy Ridge-Retirement Community in North Carolina welcomed the recent chance to participate in the “Live from Jerusalem” class which JETS Israel offers as a strategy for promoting a better understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Whatever their background, they chose to attend the class because they wanted to hear a non-judgmental overview of the political situation, some unbiased history of the conflict and thoughts about how the situation may play out in the future.
Rabbi Joel Cohn led the session. Rabbi Cohn provided some basic historical background of the conflict and discussed the various perspectives held by the different sides. Using a variety of online audio-visual materials, Rabbi Cohn presented the situation in a way that made it clear that the complexity of the situation in the Middle East today makes it impossible to view the conflict in black and white terms.
Following the session, one staff member who sat in on the session commented that “They [the residents] felt Rabbi Cohn was presenting materials in an objective way and he gave them a quick overview of the conflict and history. We are planning to do the five part series in January. ”
The program director concurred, writing that it was the “best program for our residents. Very educational and well balanced materials. Amazing presenter. We can’t wait to do more.”
The five part JETS “Arab-Israeli Conflict” series enables learners to hear the viewpoints of individuals from a range of perspectives. The series has been presented in many public and parochial schools in the United States and Canada. JETS is pleased to foster dialogue on this critical issue, and to enable learners to formulate informed opinions in a more objective atmosphere.