Jews and Christians around the world are in an uproar regarding the US Presbyterian Church’s recent vote to divest from three companies that have business in Israel.
At the church’s annual general assembly in Detroit on Friday, members of the church narrowly voted 310 to 303 to withdraw investments worth $21 million from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola.
“We as a church cannot profit from the destruction of homes and lives,” Reverend Gradye Parsons said in a statement about the decision. “We continue to invest in many businesses involved in peaceful pursuits in Israel.”
Critics of the decision are lambasting the church for supporting the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the decision as “disgraceful” and challenged members of Presbyterian USA to visit Israel and witness the realities themselves.
“Fly to the Middle East, come and see Israel for the embattled democracy that it is, and then take a bus tour, go to Libya, go to Syria, go to Iraq, and see the difference…make sure it’s an armor-plated bus…and don’t say that you’re a Christian,” the prime minister challenged.
The Anti Defamation League (ADL) condemned the church, saying it was “out of step with the views of the majority of Presbyterians in the pews and sends a painful message to American Jews.”
“Over the past ten years, PC (USA) leaders have fomented an atmosphere of open hostility to Israel within the church, promoted a one-sided presentation of the complex realities of the Middle East, and permitted the presentation of a grossly distorted image of the views of the Jewish community,” the ADL statement read.
Presbyterian USA responded to the ADL’s statement, saying “The claim by the PC (USA) that it does not support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is simply not reflected in this resolution and the overall tone of the discussions.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, stated, “An American church punishes the sole Middle East democracy for the sin of safeguarding its security, while some of its Palestinian neighbors pass out sweets to celebrate the abduction of Israeli teenagers.”
The American Jewish Committee (AJC) said that the Presbyterian divestment is yet another incident of the church “demonizing Israel.” The AJC cited “one-sided reports and study guides, such as Zionism Unsettled,” as ongoing proof of Presbyterian USA’s increasing anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, pro-BDS attitudes.
Frank Allen of the Central Florida Presbytery, helped lead efforts to strike down the proposal against Israel. “Divestment will not end the conflict and bring peace. Divestment will create dissension. Dialogue and relationship building will lay the groundwork for true peace,” he said.
Editor: To read an exclusive response to the recent vote, click here.