New Republic editor-in-chief Martin Peretz’s essay “Anglicans and Israel: Bad English“–concerning the new boycott of Israeli companies by that church (link to Al Jazeera deliberate) — is, I believe, behind that magazine’s subscription firewall. So with apologies to Peretz, I am going to quote from it at length because I think the article explains what motivates this behavior more clearly than anything I have read:
In any event, both of these armed doctrines [communism and fascism] tried hard to delude their followers with the lure of high ideals, some rooted in one or another version of the Christian ethic. But what vision of a good society do the ideologists of Palestine proffer to their boosters all over the world? Really nothing, except another miserable state like the others in the Arab Middle East. The new fellow-travelers lack even the feeble extenuations of the old ones.
Indeed, anyone who envisions a future Palestinian polity must wrestle with the grim and ongoing realities of a stagnant class structure, unproductive economic habits, an uncurious and increasingly reactionary culture, deeply cruel relationships between the sexes and toward gays, no notion of an independent judiciary, and a primitive religious mentality that gains prestige in society even as it emphasizes the promise of sexual rewards in paradise for martyrs–a crude myth that has served successfully as an incentive for suicide bombings not only in Israel but also in Iraq and throughout the Arab world. And no real challenge to any of these backward actualities has arisen in all of the turmoil the movement has sown.
Which takes us back to the church deleriants for Palestine. What kindles the fire in their hearts for Palestine? There is little or nothing in Palestinian society that would fill a progressive with enthusiasm. And these churches do not generally exult in the promise of yet one more nation-state. In fact, these churches are against the nation-state, especially the U.S. nation-state. (In Nottingham last week, the Anglicans demanded the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.) And, even if you take to the harshest reading of Israeli behavior in their ongoing conflict with the Palestinians, dozens and dozens of other peoples in the world, some of whom have a much sounder claim to be a real nation than those for whom the official Anglicans and Presbyterians shed so many tears, suffer infinitely more deprivation and indignity than they do. But tears are not shed for those people at Canterbury Cathedral in England or, for that matter, at Christ Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, whose rectors have for years been virtual street agitators against Israel. So I come to an unavoidable conclusion. The obsession here is not positive, for one side, but rather negative, against the other side. The clerics and the lay leaders on this indefensible crusade are so fixated on Palestine because their obsession, which can be buttressed by various Christian sources and traditions, is really with the Jews. A close look at this morbid passion makes one realize that its roots include an ancient hostility for the House of Israel, an ugly survival of a hoary intolerance into some of the allegedly enlightened precincts of modern Christendom.