Presbyterians Soon to Vote on Divestment from Companies Doing Business in Israel

At the end of this month, the biennial Presbyterian General Assembly will meet in Pittsburgh and one of the issues to be voted on will be whether to divest church investments from three companies doing business in Israel…Motorola, Caterpillar, and Hewlett-Packard.  This comes on the heels of a similar motion that was voted on at the recent Methodist General Conference, a motion which thankfully was defeated.

The Jewish community and the Presbyterian community have a long history of shared values and cooperation.  We work with them, both nationally and locally, on a whole host of issues important for us, such as Habitat for Humanity and The Hunger Walk.  Recently, we hosted a reception for members of the local Presbyterian community to reaffirm those bonds and to express to them how central an issue Israel is to the Jewish community, while in no way do we seek to minimize the sympathy they have for the Palestinians, particularly Palestinian Christians.  However, a vote by the national Presbyterian body would be a mistake for several reasons, reasons which we expressed to our Presbyterian friends and neighbors.  First, it will have no practical implications as all three companies have made clear that these divestment initiatives will do nothing to change their behavior with regard to their business in Israel.  Second, the situation in Israel/Palestine is very complex and an action for divestment seeks to place blame solely on Israel.  Third, those who push for divestment are not interested in a peaceful two-state solution to the conflict but are instead seeking to delegitimize Israel and seek the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state.  Fourth, this action hardens hearts and will not help reach a solution to the conflict which can only be found through direct negotiations between the two parties.

We hope to strengthen our relations with the Presbyterians and, simultaneously, urge  them to abandon the tool of divestment as it is ineffective, unfair, and divisive.

To sign a letter urging the Presbyterians to support the cause of peace by choosing alternatives to divestment, please click here.

The Forward

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