April 29, 2005

The Presbyterian Church & Divestment from Israel

I haven't written on this topic here because I felt that others had done a very good job, if not better than I could do on it.

But I read a post yesterday that has stuck with me and thought that I would at least bring it to your attention.

It comes from Robert Avrech and can be found here. I want to quote a few passages that I think are noteworthy.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is planning a divestment from businesses that invest in Israel. Jewish groups have tried to talk with them, but to no avail. The divestment move is picking up steam.

Let's take a look at the world. In the Sudan there is wholesale slaughter against the blacks of Darfur by Muslim Arabs. Iran, dedicated to the destruction of Israel, is building a nuclear bomb. A clear threat to world peace. North Korea, perhaps the most repressive state on planet earth (and that's saying a lot considering that there are twenty-two Arab dictatorships) manufactures famine on a regular basis where untold hundreds of thousands starve to death in annual cycles. Algeria has had a vicious civil war going for over twenty years and four-hundred thousand men women and children have been slaughtered.

The non-Arab Berbers seem to get the absolute worst of it -- their throats are slit in public by Muslim fanatics. In Saudi Arabia the state financed Madrassas teach Wahhabism and that turns Islamic kids into suicidal terrorists. And of course, Saudi women are still not allowed to drive cars. Kurds in Northern Syria are literally stateless, unable to obtain Syrian citizenship, thus unable to go to school, get jobs, or travel abroad. They live truly wretched lives.

The Arabs in Israel teach their children that the Shoah never happened and suicide bombers are revered as heroes. All over the Arab world women are treated like cattle and homosexuals face public beheading. Freedom of religion is unknown in every single Arab state. Christians are persecuted and gee, haven't you ever wondered why the Arab states are Judenrein? They have actually achieved Hitler's dream. In Cuba, the Democrat's favorite dictator, Fidel Castro, continues to ruthlessly feed his dissident citizens into a brutal gulag, and --

--and the Presbyterian Church decides to make economic war on the democratic state of Israel!


And the post goes on to ask why. And that is the ultimate question. Why Israel? Why is there no mention of any other country such as those listed in the post.

To be fair here is a link to the Presbyterian website about this topic. But if you go to this link you will find a detailed response that I am going to pull a couple of sections from.


6. It should be noted that this action was taken as part of a larger commitment of the PC(USA) to human rights and social justice all around the world. It should be further noted that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is not singling out Israel and Palestine alone for observation and critique. The PC(USA) regularly publishes an annual report regarding human rights around the world, and has spoken specifically about issues of justice related to North and South Korea, Rwanda, Taiwan, Central American states, and many others, including the United States. Assembly actions regularly make comment on issues of religious liberty in many countries, including other Middle Eastern countries. The PC(USA) believes that, through such actions, important perspectives and informed glimpses of difficult situations are made available to the church and the wider community to inform responsible engagement with the world.

I take issue with this item because all it says is that they have spoken out about the actions of these other countries, but unless I am mistaken they have not taken actions such as the steps they are considering levying against Israel that they are considering now. It seems hypocritical to me and less than honest to include this kind of statement.


  • Although the decision to “initiate a process of phased, selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel” may be presumed by some to invite comparison of Israeli policies with those of apartheid South Africa, the assembly has not asserted any moral equivalency between the two. The two situations are distinct. The focus of this action is to explore use of a proven tool of economic pressure to motivate real change in Israeli policies and movement toward peace.
  • Again, the assembly’s action calls for a selective divestment, and not a blanket economic boycott, keeping before us our interest in Israel’s economic and social well-being where these do not inflict suffering on Palestinian or Israeli people.

Ok, a selective divestment. I am very curious to see how they determine what companies are considered to be ok and which are considered to fall short of the mark.

I haven't any problem with criticism of Israel or any country, but I like to see balance and when it is so easy to point out that it is missing I grow concerned.

I could point out further inconsistencies, but I think for now there is plenty of evidence of why there is a problem with their proposed actions.

I hope that they review this and carefully consider their actions because at the moment it makes it appear that there is special treatment being reserved for Israel and Jews in general.

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