Presbyterian support of divestment a loss for true peacemaking
JERUSALEM – NGO Monitor denounces the vote in favor of divestment resolutions by the Presbyterian Church (USA) at its biannual General Assembly, calling the vote a “blow to morality and peacemaking” in the Middle East.
“The divestment resolutions were pressed on the PCUSA delegates by supporters of the international anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign. The vote shows that most delegates either failed to recognize that BDS seeks to end the existence of Israel or did understand that and supported the resolution nonetheless ,” said Yitzhak Santis, Chief Programs Officer, NGO Monitor.
The vote passed on Friday, despite opposition from over two-dozen Presbyterian pastors who took a moral position, signing a letter declaring, “The great problem with the BDS Movement is that, for many of its supporters, the goal is to bring an end… to having an independent state of Israel at all… We are no longer debating how the occupation should end, but whether Israel should exist.”
“The BDS campaign is anti-peace as it promotes the destruction of Israel and opposes dialogue, cooperation, and developing peaceful ties between Israelis and Palestinians. The church’s decision has made Presbyterians participants in the conflict, the opposite of peacemakers,” Santis said.
Since 2004, a vocal minority of anti-Israel activists in the church have attempted to convince the denomination’s national GA to support BDS six times. This year’s GA was no different with some 15 resolutions on Israel alone, most being pro-divestment and one that calls for the church to “review” its traditional support of a two state solution, which also passed.
“The obsessive, singular focus on Israel demonstrates a myopic double-standard applied to the Jewish state by this church,” said Santis.
“The BDS strategy includes capturing the church’s ethical voice,” Santis said. “BDS activists hope to place Israel in the same moral universe as apartheid-era South Africa. As such, they seek to delegitimize Israel in world public opinion, especially in the West.”
The divestment resolution was pushed by the Israel Palestine Mission Network, an anti-Israel caucus within the Presbyterian Church. IPMN is the author of a 72-page glossy book called Zionism Unsettled. It claims that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is driven by a “pathology inherent in Zionism” and rejects theologies – Christian and Jewish – that supports Zionism, the ideological foundations of the State of Israel. Zionism Unsettled generated serious criticism from across the Presbyterian and interfaith spectrum.
NGO Monitor published a Resource Guide for Presbyterians: “Something for Presbyterians to Consider on Peacemaking in the Middle East.”