Presbyterian (PCUSA) Leaders Should Be Urged to Reject Divestment

From June 15 through June 22 (2006), the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), a Protestant denomination with approximately 2.3 million members, will pass judgment on the defense policies of Israel as it defends itself from terror attacks from the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority.

At the General Assembly in Birmingham, Alabama, commissioners will reconsider the body’s 2004 decision to initiate a process of “phased, selective” divestment from companies doing business in Israel.  The decision the GA takes this year will effectively repudiate or affirm the distorted narrative used to justify the denomination’s decision to divest from Israel in 2004. This narrative included a detailed description of the impact of the security barrier on Palestinians without offering an honest description of why the barrier was built in the first place or any real description of the motive and impact of Palestinian violence on Israeli civilians. Israel’s efforts to defend itself were compared to a utopian standard of conduct, while Palestinian terrorism was compared to no standard at all.

The leadership of the PCUSA should consider more than just the Palestinian perspective, to acknowledge the 58-year history of Arab rejectionism toward the State of Israel, and to vote to rescind the unfair and counterproductive selective divestment initiative begun in 2004. 

  1. Israel’s defense policies are a consequence, not a cause of Palestinian terror. Organized Arab violence against Jews in the land of Israel began in 1920, before the modern state of Israel was declared, and before Israel gained control of the disputed territories in 1967.

  2. Israel’s security fence saves lives, both Israeli and Palestinian. It has reduced attacks from exploding terrorists by over 90%. If PCUSA opposes active measures Israel takes to defend itself, such as targeting Palestinian bombers and rocket launchers (and those who send them); and if it remains opposed to passive measures, such as the security fence, what does that leave? Should Israel give free rein to suicide bombers?

  3. And why is Israel, alone among the nations, denied the right of self-defense? Isn’t this tantamount to denying Israel’s right to exist?
    The fence (only 5% is a concrete “wall”) has worked, helping to dramatically reduce the carnage. Fewer suicide bombers have also meant fewer Israeli incursions and fewer Palestinian casualties. Thanks
    to the fence, scores of checkpoints have been removed, giving Palestinians freer movement. In fact, Israel has gone to great lengths to minimize the difficulties the fence causes, repeatedly altering the course of the structure to alleviate hardship, providing scores of gates to enable movement back and forth, replanting more than 60,000 olive trees for Palestinian farmers.

  4. The increased number of rocket attacks from Gaza, after Israel’s painful disengagement from that area, demonstrates that even significant concessions from Israel will not bring an end to Palestinian terrorism against Israel’s civilians. 

  5. Pushing for a two-state solution without calling for significant reforms in Palestinian society encourages the creation of a failed state that oppresses its citizens and menaces its neighbors. PCUSA could foster  peace if it worked with the Palestinians toward the needed reforms: an acceptance of Israel’s permanence and a concerted effort by Palestinian political, religious and education leaders to promote the value of co-existence with Israel.  Such reforms would reduce the rampant anti-Semitism, end the rejection of Israel’s legitimacy, and make socially unacceptable any glorification of violence against Jews. Wouldn’t working toward these goals be more constructive than pressuring Israel to stop its counter-terror measures?

  6. The PCUSA’s silence about vicious anti-Semitic sermons broadcast on Palestinian television undermines the credibility of the church’s efforts to bring peace to the region.

  7. Against the backdrop of the Arab Boycott of the State of Israel, church divestment from Israel sets a bad precedent that can be used to isolate the Jewish State in the world arena.

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