A Resolution before the General Assembly 

For decades, Presbyterian General Assembly statements on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have been grounded in a two essential principles: that the legitimate rights of both peoples must be respected, and that the PCUSA) wished no harm on either people. The 10-year campaign for targeted divestment from 3 companies doing business with Israel was presented simply as a stand for the human rights of Palestinians. Divestment advocates repeatedly stated their intention was to inflict no harm on Israel or the Jewish people.

When divestment was narrowly approved in 2014, it came with a qualification that the action had nothing to do with the Israel-targeted Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which unequivocally and openly states that its goal is to harm Israel, and in fact end the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.[1] The evidence of the malicious intent of BDS is overwhelming, and something we at PFMEP, and many others, have documented extensively.    

Unfortunately, this well-intentioned but ill-conceived attempt to separate the PCUSA’s divestment vote from BDS failed terribly. Immediately after divestment approval, the BDS movement claimed a major victory, and the world saw the PC(USA) as the newest member of the BDS movement. Sadly, several of the divestment advocates within the church, ignoring the explicit instructions of the 221st GA, also proclaimed divestment as a victory for BDS, and continue to actively campaign for PC(USA) affiliation with the BDS movement. For the past two years, the PCUSA has been the featured poster child for the global BDS movement, and anti-Zionism, in the American Christian community. While some people argue that what the BDS movement says about us is beyond our control, the PC(USA) has done virtually nothing to challenge the BDS movement’s exploitation of our good name.

In 2014 the GA intended a message of love and support for Palestinians through divestment. It is time to send a strong and clear message to Israel, the Jewish people and Palestinians that the PC(USA) loves and supports both peoples. We must do more than simply state that we do not endorse the BDS movement.

Gratefully, a commissioner to the 2014 General Assembly has returned as a commissioner to the 2016 GA. He remembers our anti-BDS words. He is appalled at the way our denomination has passively accepted BDS people within and outside the PCUSA misrepresenting us. He and other commissioners have placed a resolution before the GA for the GA to call upon all church entities to refrain from financial support and affiliation with the organization US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, the American umbrella organization for the BDS movement (At the last two assemblies, a top staff person of End the Occupation was actually a recognized resource person in the Middle East Committee hearings!). Last month in Portland, the Conference of the United Methodist Church wisely approved a similar resolution. We hope our Assembly will consider this important resolution prayerfully. It is time make clear our love and support for two peoples.

 Click Here for full text of the commissioner's resolution

[1] “This action on divestment is not to be construed or represented by any organization of the PC(USA) as divestment from the State of Israel, or an alignment with or endorsement of the global BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) movement.”