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Presbyterians' Shameful Boycott

Presbyterians' Shameful Boycott

Unless the church rescinds this immoral and bigoted denigration of the Jewish state, it will be contributing to anti-Jewish bigotry and the encouragement of terrorism.


The Presbyterian Church (USA) has committed a grievous sin. The General Assembly of that church has voted to divest from only one country in the world. No, it was not China, which has occupied Tibet for half a century and continues to deny basic human rights to its own citizens. No, it was not Iran, which threatens nuclear holocaust, executes dissenters and denies religious freedom to Christians and Jews. No, it was not North Korea, Libya, Russia, Sudan, Cuba or Belarus. It was -- you guessed it -- Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and America's most reliable ally in a troubled part of the world.

The way it will work is simple: A blacklist will be prepared for the church's leaders, showing companies that earn more than $1 million annually from investments in Israel or that invest more than $1 million a year in Israel. The Presbyterians plan to divest from any company on the list -- with a handful of exemptions for companies that deal in education, social welfare programs and construction.

How did the church come to such a ludicrous, wrongheaded position? Just look at the resolution itself, which bursts with bigotry and ignorance.

It effectively blames the Israelis for Palestinian slaughter of civilians by asserting that the occupation is the "root" of terrorism. This canard ignores the reality that the Palestinian leadership opted for murder and violence as the tactic of choice well before there was any occupation, and that the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad have vowed to continue murdering Jews after the occupation ends, as long as the Jewish state exists.

The Presbyterian resolution effectively calls for the end of Israel by insisting on "the right of [Palestinian] refugees to return to their homeland." This is a well-known euphemism for turning Israel from a Jewish state into another state with a Palestinian majority. (Jordan is the other.)

The Presbyterian resolution also condemns Israel's military actions taken in defense of its civilians. It claims, without an iota of proof and against all the available evidence, that Israel commits "horrific acts of violence and deadly attacks on innocent people" when the truth is that Israel, like the United States, goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid killing innocent people. It equates Israel's targeting of terrorists with Palestinian targeting of civilians.

The president of Harvard University, in a speech delivered in Harvard's Memorial Church in 2002, included the singling out of Israel for divestment as the sort of "actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect, if not in their intent." The one-sided actions of the Presbyterian Church fit into this category.

Divestment also encourages the continued use of terrorism by Palestinian leaders, who see that when Israel responds to their terrorism, it causes an important church to punish Israel.

I do not believe that a majority of the 2.5 million Presbyterians in the U.S. want their church used to support terrorism. But they are now on notice that their church has been hijacked and its name misused in the service of an immoral tactic.

Balanced criticism of Israel and of specific policies of its government is proper and essential to democratic governance. But the Presbyterian resolution is so one-sided, so anti-Zionist in its rhetoric and so ignorant of the realities on the ground that it can only be explained by the kind of bigotry that the Presbyterian Church itself condemned in 1987 when it promised "never again to participate in, to contribute to, or (insofar as we are able) to allow the persecution or denigration of Jews."

Unless the church rescinds this immoral, sinful and bigoted denigration of the Jewish state, it will be "participating in" and "contributing to" anti-Jewish bigotry and the encouragement of terrorism.

This article originally appeared in the LA Times.

Published: August 7, 2004

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Visitor Comments: 83

(81) Rev. David Th. Stark, August 29, 2013 9:41 PM

Many Other Presbytrians Denominations Do Support Israel

The PCUSA is presbyterain in name only. They have abandoned the Bible and historic the Presbyterian Confessions and morals years ago. There are many other Presbyterian denominations which do support Israel and recongnize that Israel is the best friend the United Startes has in the Middle East. Please be specific when talking about the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUSA) as an anti-jewish organization. They don't represent historic Presbyterianism nor do they speak for the many thousands of us Presbyterians in other Presbyterian Churches who fully support the nation of Israel and pray for the peace and prosperity of the Jewish people worldwide. Thank you!

(80) Beverly Kurtin, May 11, 2013 3:54 AM

Boycott their churches

I've known about this problem for a few years now. How 'bout Jews picket their churches while handing out pamphlets that tell the truth.
Frankly, I no longer have anything to do with my former friends who are Presbyterians and I have told them why. I pointed out that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and that their church was committing Jew-hate and as such, I can have nothing more to do with them. Having been a Jew for the past 72 years and have experienced more than my share of Jew-hate from "Christians," I refuse to participate in "interfaith meetings."
OTOH, I have visited churches when I could show them one of my presentations that shows them about who got hurt the most in '47-48. More Jews were kicked out of Arab lands in which they had lived for thousands of years just because Israel was declared a new State.
I show them the horrific bodies of Arabs who the "Palestinians" think were cooperating with Israel. No trials,no representation, no opportunity to deny anything: It works like this...accusation, hanging or hacking to death immediately.

(79) frank rosner, November 1, 2012 12:31 AM

Support Israel always

Unfortunately, this move by a christian organization shows how crucial it is to continually fight for the defense of israel. Deep down some of the leaders who started this could have been influenced by the new anti-inmigrant, anti-foreigner, then anti-israel phenomenon which has been going on since pretty much a black press was elected. I blame this on intellectual anti-semitism which has been emanating quietly since Sept. 11th.

(78) Zachary Cabon, February 10, 2009 8:31 PM

Should God's image be on the $100 bill?

American citizens are told by Muslims we are using Israel to engage in war by proxy. They call us anti-Islamic. On the other hand, if Americans do not fund Israel, then the Israelis acuse us of "bigotry" and call us "anti-Semitic." Americans are still trying to reconcile American issues ... French and Indian War, Spanish-American War, Trail of Tears, slavery... We have over 7-million Muslims living in the U.S., with more able to walk over the southwestern border anytime, or fly in from the UK using a visa-waiver. On the other hand, we have armed Israel to the teeth with all manner of weapons - conventional, chemical, biological and nuclear. If we should not "lopsidedly" boycott companies associated with Israel, then should we no longer continue to "lopsidedly" finance and arm Israel? Should we boycott China, Iran, Gabon, etc., and fund & arm Palestinians and Iceland? What is fair? If the Jewish people survive and flourish by God's will, then what need has Israel of Americans or American business, unless ... you don't suppose ... the American and God are one and the same? A democratic state accepts criticism without charging racism. A democratic state negotiates boycotts without charging racism. Is Israel a democratic state, or just a place where Jewish people elected a Jewish state: where any criticism and any lack of business thus constitutes "anti-semitism?" I would really like to know. I am not Jewish. I admire many Jewish individuals - American Jews with whom I am familiar, and they don't talk to us much about Israel. I wonder why. This has all the feel of giving money higher priority than God and relationships. I am not Presbyterian - I have no church. I believe in God - no middle man. So, I'm not in the loop on this 'much adu about boycotts' (little bit of money). Zach

Anonymous, May 10, 2013 5:31 AM

bigotry is in the dna of descendants of people whose ancestors have practised anti semitism for 2000 yers

The world cannot accept that the jews have created a democratic jewel in the middle east a;nd have been willing to share with all. Where is the concern for muslims and christians who are being slaughtered by their governments? If I see bala;nced discussion i will have respect for you as an honest lover of peace but as of now it reminds me of Germany in 1930.

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