On February 11, 2012, the Presbytery of New Covenant voted to send an overture (proposal) to the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s 220th General Assembly (GA) which calls for the GA to “Disapprove the recommendation of the MRTI (Mission Responsibility through Investment) committee for divestment from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions”. The Presbytery of New Covenant is comprised of over 100 congregations in southeast Texas.
Presbyterians for Middle East Peace welcomes and strongly endorses this new overture action being taken by the Presbytery of New Covenant. We believe that a policy of Israel-targeted divestment is wrong, unjust, and will harden the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
In effect, Israel-targeted divestment would place the PCUSA firmly within the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel. Internationally, BDS activists are already trumpeting the MRTI recommendation as a huge victory. At the General Assembly, other attempts will be made to align the PCUSA with the BDS strategy such as overtures to approve the Kairos Palestine document, which explicitly endorses BDS. We believe that BDS must be rejected.
In its rationale, the presbytery cites the fact that after the Presbyterian General Assembly in 2004 voted to initiate a policy of divestment of certain companies doing business with Israel, this policy was reversed by the General Assembly in 2006. Proposals for divestment have been rejected by wide margins at all subsequent Presbyterian general assemblies. The overture also argues that a proposal as important as divestment must be thoroughly discussed and debated, with all viewpoints given fair consideration, and cannot be delegated to a committee such as the MRTI.
Presbyterians for Middle East Peace concurs with the need for discussion, debate, and discernment on any proposal as important as an Israel-targeted divestment action. As a matter of simple due process, PFMEP requested an opportunity for representatives of the three companies to speak directly to the General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC) when the divestment recommendation from MRTI was being considered. The request was denied. PFMEP was told that the GAMC would be considering whether the recommendation was “responsive” to the directions of the General Assembly, not the merit of the divestment proposal itself. However, despite the lack of due process, the GAMC went ahead and endorsed the MRTI recommendation.
Presbyterians for Middle East Peace has released a new document, “Advancing a Just Peace in the Middle East”. This document, which was prepared for the 220th GA, is a comprehensive and integrated compilation of material already presented on this website, along with new material. It is directed to all interested in gaining a better understanding of the peace process and the issues, and we hope it will be of particular value to commissioners at the 221th Presbyterian General Assembly this summer in Pittsburgh.
At the 2012 Presbyterian General Assembly commissioners were asked to declare Israel an apartheid state. They rejected the request. BDS advocates are returning in 2014 with the same proposal. We believe this accusation is wrong, is unjust, and will not advance the cause of peace in the Middle East. The document below is our response from 2012. The facts are the same today.
Presbyterians for Middle East Peace continues to monitor and comment upon the tragic situation in Syria. Previously, we supported the introduction of the Arab League observers and called for the resignation of President Assad. Since then President Assad and the Syrian military and security forces have made a mockery of all genuine outside efforts to bring about a peaceful solution to the crisis and have instead embarked upon a large scale, genocidal massacre of innocents by use of indiscriminate tank and artillery fire.
We applaud the recent efforts of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton to organize humanitarian assistance for the thousands of injured victims and to support the emerging coalition of Arab and non-Arab countries under the banner of "Friends of Syria." We also support Secretary Clinton in her pointed comments about the "despicable" conduct of Russia and others in blocking Security Council resolutions designed to bring a halt to the violence and in her demand at the Friends Conference that Syria's allies stop providing additional weapons to the Syrian armed forces.
Our thoughts and prayers are with those courageous people of Syria who attempted to bring about a peaceful transition from totalitarian rule but were, instead, subjected to horrific acts of violence.
We also call upon the United Nations to promptly indict and prosecute the senior leadership of the Assad government, military and security forces for crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court at The Hague. In that regard, we commend the recent report from the UN-appointed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria which found "reasonable grounds to believe that particular individuals at the highest levels of government have been responsible for crimes against humanity and other gross human rights violations".
For more information on Presbyterians for Middle East Peace, visit our website at www.pfmep.org