PC-USA and The Boycott and Divestment Votes

It has been a difficult week for those of us who oppose efforts to Boycott and Divest from Israel. Efforts to divest narrowly failed at the PC-USA General Assembly, 331-333. That is 49.85% for and 50.15% against. To say that Presbyterians are divided on the issue would be an understatement. This was frighteningly close.

Meanwhile, the General Assembly did pass a motion to boycott. Resolution 15-02 states that the General Assembly:

Call upon all nations to prohibit the import of products made by enterprises in Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.

There is still much work to do in our efforts with our friends in the Presbyterian Church-USA.

Just talking about the major resolutions is not enough. It is also important to mention the increasing number of hostile proposals that come to the floor of the General Assembly every year. Some this year accused Israel of apartheid, human rights violations, and a whole host of other awful sentiments. Groups that wish to do so use the General Assembly as a free platform to bring forth resolutions with little hope of passing simply to bash Israel.

Were it not for the efforts of JCPA, ARZA, We Are For Israel and other organizations that worked to narrowly, but successfully combat the divestment resolution and other resolutions, relations between the Jewish community and our Presbyterian friends would have been severely damaged.

I would argue, however, that if every two years resolutions are brought forth that are horrendous, borderline anti-Jewish platforms, even ones overwhelmingly defeated by the General Assembly, that Jewish-Presbyterian relations are in grave jeopardy, that damage continues to be done regularly and severely, and that we have been handed but a reprieve to work on repairing them before the next deluge.

Like-minded Israel supporting Jews and Presbyterians must work together publicly to create a new atmosphere for dialogue about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and provide a powerful alternative to the narrative of Israel bashing offered at the General Assembly. Groups such as Presbyterians for Middle East Peace are our friends. We need to work together.

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4 Responses to PC-USA and The Boycott and Divestment Votes

  1. CMEP is not responsible for promoting the resolutions. They come from organizations from inside the PC(USA) and other churches that consider them.

  2. I’m encouraging all of my friends to buy Ahava right away. We ruined an Ahava boycott last year at a Maryland store by walking past them and cleaning out the entire store of Ahava products!

  3. Rabbi Joel R. schwartzman says:

    The Presbyterian USA Church has a leadership problem and a serious anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, and even anti-Semitic problem that good relations in the hinterland isn’t going to fix. The people who belong to this Church are going to have to fix what is wrong with their denomination. Having suffered the loss of over 600,000 of their members and having but 2 million remaining, they are split over issues of the performance of gay marriage, homosexual clergy and homosexuality in general. That their General Assembly nearly has been hi-jacked into passing BDS resolutions each time the GA has met in the last decade is a sign that this denomination harbors the sentiments that reject Israel’s existence and opt for Palestinian claims of victim-hood.

    Whether this will impact Jewish-PC-USA relations at the grassroots level remains to be seen. Clearly our message needs to be that anti-Israel, BDS moves are unacceptable to us at any level. Such thrusts are one sided and harmful in that they take sides and encourage one faction to continue resisting peace talk and face-to-face negotiations. It’s time for us who support Israel to state crystal-clearly that there will be no good relations between our two faiths if the PC-USA continues down the road of BDS.

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