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.