Categorized | Middle East, USA

Presbyterian Church USA joins BDS movement

Presbyterian Church USADETROIT (Press Release)– The American Jewish Committee called Friday’s Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) decision to divest from major companies doing business with Israel a setback for efforts to attain a negotiated, sustainable Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, and a breach with a Jewish community committed to Jewish-Christian relations.

By a vote of 310 to 303, the PCUSA General Assembly, meeting in Detroit, called on the church’s foundation and pension board to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions.

“The PCUSA leadership is facilitating the delegitimization of Israel in the guise of helping Palestinians,” said Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations.

“It is a very sad day for Presbyterian-Jewish relations when church leaders from across the U.S. align with the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. This is an affront to all who are committed to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The PCUSA decision is celebrated by those who believe they are one step closer to a Jew-free Middle East,” said Marans.

For more than a decade, voices within the PCUSA have sought to punish Israel by calling for divestment. While PCUSA General Assemblies have repeatedly rejected those efforts, BDS advocates within the church have been allowed to demonize Israel through one-sided reports and study guides, such as Zionism Unsettled, the latest and most outrageous church document on the subject.

“In response, PCUSA leadership could have declared clearly to church members, ‘We will not support misinformation, we will not condone propagandist indoctrination,’” said Marans. “Instead, they have empowered those within the denomination who are driven by hatred of Israel to undermine support for the peaceful resolution of the conflict via a directly negotiated two-state solution, with the Jewish state of Israel living in peace and security alongside the future Palestinian state.”

Marans and AJC Detroit director Kari Alterman, joined by AJC Detroit leaders, attended the PCUSA General Assembly. Both Marans and Alterman spoke before GA committees.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also expressed deep disappointment at the vote by the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly.

“We are greatly disappointed by the vote in favor of divesting from companies doing business with Israel, a move that is out of step with the views of the majority of Presbyterians in the pews at the community level,” said Rabbi David Sandmel, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs, who attended the conference and was present during the deliberations. “The claim by the PC(USA) that it does not support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is simply not reflected in this resolution and the overall tone of the discussions.  We recognize, however, that the General Assembly has not concluded and there can be other motions to reverse this result.”

“Over the past ten years, PC(USA) leaders have fomented an atmosphere of open hostility to Israel within the church, promoted a one-sided presentation of the complex realities of the Middle East, and permitted the presentation of a grossly distorted image of the views of the Jewish community,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.He added that the resolution “threatens the long-standing relationship between the Jewish community and the national Presbyterian Church with whom we have worked closely on many issues of mutual concern.”

ADL expressed gratitude to its partners within PC(USA), including Presbyterians for Middle East Peace, who have worked tirelessly in advocating to fulfill the church’s historic role as peacemakers who bring people together. “They represent the vast majority of Presbyterians, whose views are not reflected by the national leadership or in this regrettable resolution,” said Rabbi Sandmel.
Preceding provided by the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League

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Copyright 2014 San Diego Jewish World

4 Responses to “Presbyterian Church USA joins BDS movement”

  1. John Howard Reed says:

    There are a number of significant problems with your report on this page, but the most serious is that in the action to sell holdings in three corporations the PCUSA General Assembly specifically distanced itself from the BDS movement as a whole. I pray that in the future, actions are not given greater significance by Jews or by Presbyterians than they actually carry or than is expressed in their accompanying documents.

  2. sarah says:

    Some of the most pushy, rude and even at times harassing individuals in the committee meeting observation area and in COBO hallways were people wearing black t-shirts with the words “Jews for Divestment”. Some of these individuals also harassed the one anti-divestment group who had a booth in the exhibit hall.

    Many Presbyterians in attendance were heart sick and there was even an attempt on the last day of GA to get a vote to change the vote to divest from these three American companies. Please get the word out that many Presbyterians support Israel, but the are also concerned for the Palistianian Christians and the Palistenians who loss there homes, orchards and businesses.

    We arso received mail before we went to GA from a former Jewish /Israeli soldier who did not how he had been forced to treat peaceful Palistanianes while he was in the army in Israel.


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  2. […] decision is celebrated by those who believe they are one step closer to a Jew-free Middle East.” (Rabbi Noam Marans, American Jewish Committee director of Interreligious and Intergroup […]

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