On September 9 the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment, PC(U.S.A.) announced that they will propose that the 2012 General Assembly of the PCUSA divest from three companies (Motorola Solutions, Hewlett Packard, and Caterpillar) because of their business practices related to Israel and Palestine. It is extremely important to remember that this is a recommendation by a committee. It is not policy of the PCUSA unless established as such by the next General Assembly.
We are saddened because
(1) the recommendation will, no doubt, increase the divisions within the PCUSA on how we can most effectively be peacemakers in the Middle East;
(2) it will surely offend and hurt our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community with whom we are in close dialogue;
(3) it fails to acknowledge the 2008 action of the General Assembly that instructed Presbyterians not to over-identify with one side in this tragic struggle.
Each of the three companies is targeted because they supply products and technology to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The claim is that doing so represents a “non-peaceful pursuit” and an “obstacle to a just peace in Israel/Palestine”. The facts on the ground run counter to this assertion, and demonstrate that if there were no IDF, effectively equipped, there would be no Israel. This fundamental fact is the core principle behind decades of United States government policy supporting Israel’s very survival in the face of armed groups, such as Hamas, openly committed to the destruction of the Jewish state.
We strongly believe that the vast majority of Presbyterians support Israel’s right to exist and the legitimate security needs of the people of Israel until a just and sustainable peace with the Palestinians is firmly established. The Boycott/Divest/Sanction (BDS) movement fails to acknowledge this and runs counter to the principles of a two-state solution ( see our website articles “Two Essential Principles” and “The Two-State Solution is the Best Path” for more background on this ).
Gratefully, there is no reason to believe that the General Assembly of the PCUSA will respond positively to the MRTI recommendation. In the past, the GA has consistently rejected calls for divestment. Polling of Presbyterian lay people and clergy has consistently rejected suggestions for the PCUSA to be an advocate for any one side in this multi-sided situation. Given the constantly changing dynamics within the Middle East today, it is hard to imagine the 2012 General Assembly radically departing from PCUSA policies or turning its back on the will of PCUSA members.
Presbyterians for Middle East Peace will work long and hard to make sure the 2012 General Assembly continues to play a positive rather than inflammatory peacemaking role in the Middle East. To that end, we welcome the help and support of all who oppose the MRTI recommendation. If interested, please contact us at www.pfmep.org
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We encourage the entire Presbyterian community to engage in thoughtful discourse on peacemaking in the Middle East, and all points of view should be respectfully heard. Our readers have actively forwarded this newsletter to friends and colleagues, and we urge you to continue to do so. If you have received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to join our subscriber list, visit our website at www.pfmep.org and click on the “subscribe” module on the home page.