B’nai B’rith International commends the commissioners at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) for again resisting a formidable campaign for punitive, one-sided action on the Middle East. They chose positive investment instead of divestment, voting against a resolution supporting divestment from three American companies engaged in business with Israel. They also rejected the slurring of Israeli policy with the label of “apartheid.” However, the church did separately encourage countries to prohibit products made by Israelis in disputed territories.
From June 30 through July 7, the PC(USA) is convening in Pittsburgh for its General Assembly, the primary policymaking body of the 2 million-member mainline Protestant denomination.
By a vote of 333-331-2, delegates opted on July 5 to replace a church overture for divestment from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard with one on constructive investment. This motion was later adopted by a vote of 369-290-8.
Although deliberations at the assembly continue, and some resolutions—including the one on goods made by Ahava and other companies producing in Palestinian-claimed territories—signal areas of important disagreement with our organization on Israel’s record and circumstances, a significant number of Presbyterians have continued to show their desire to avoid many of the most immoderate and harmful proposals.
They have done so in the face of assertions by some speakers that Israel is guilty of “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing” and “the worst form of terrorism,” responsible for inspiring 9/11. One speaker, hinting at Presbyterian-Jewish relations, said that Jesus didn’t worry about relations with the Pharisees when he cleansed the Temple and challenged tax-collectors and priests.
Presbyterians working to enhance understanding of the complex conditions in the Middle East deserve appreciation for their efforts.
Several mainline Protestant denominations have debated and declined proposals to single out companies doing business with Israel for economic sanctions. Today, July 6, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, although not scheduled to consider divestment, will discuss resolutions on the Middle East, including several on investment issues and on adopting for study “Kairos Palestine,” an inflammatory 2009 Palestinian Christian document that called for indiscriminate boycotts of the Jewish state.