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PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH ADOPTS DIVESTMENT, DESTROYS CREDIBILITY AS PEACE MAKER

StandWithUs Statement
 
StandWithUs denounces the Presbyterian Church (USA) [PCUSA] vote for an anti-Israel divestment resolution.  PCUSA betrayed its claim to be an “Ambassador of Reconciliation,” and instead lent support to extremists who oppose peace, and ruptured interfaith relations.
 
With a vote of 51% in favor, 49% against (a difference of 7 votes), the full Assembly passed a resolution approved by the Middle East Committee, calling for divestment from some American companies that do business with Israel, including suppliers of equipment that saves Israeli lives every day.  Voters, many of whom knew little about the conflict, were swayed by an unrelenting barrage of propaganda against Israel. As a result, they decided to condemn Israel's daily efforts to keep its civilians alive and contributed to a movement that opposes Israel's existence as a Jewish state.
 
“We applaud groups like Presbyterians for Middle East Peace [PFMEP] for their tireless educational work, and for resisting the enemies of Israel and peaceful coexistence.  We also congratulate the many Jewish organizations, such as the JCPA, ADL, and the many rabbis who joined together to oppose divestment and preserve positive Jewish-Presbyterian relations.  We regret that divestment has sabotaged those efforts,” said Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs.
 
“The good news is that despite efforts by anti-Israel extremists, voting members realized that divestment was part of the toxic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement [BDS], and added amendments explicitly stating that PCUSA does not endorse global BDS,” said Roberta Seid, PhD, StandWithUs Director of Education/Research who attended the Presbyterian Assembly with two other StandWithUs members. “The bad news is that BDS has groomed a Presbyterian contingent which manipulates committee rules to hijack the agenda, skew the debate and silence alternative views.  The Committee barely heard about Palestinian terrorism or about Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group that governs Gaza and just kidnapped three Israeli teenagers, or about Israel's peace offers which Palestinian leaders continually reject.  Well-meaning Presbyterians were simply misled.”
 
“I was appalled by the structure of the Committee debate, which exploited Committee members who had limited knowledge about Israel and the conflict. The obsession with and singling out of Israel was also shocking,” said Christian attendee Vida Velasco, the StandWithUs Midwest High School Coordinator.  “The Middle East Committee ignored the atrocities committed daily in Iraq, Egypt, Syria and elsewhere in the region. Instead it focused only on condemning Israel and its policies which exist to protect the lives of innocent civilians. Presbyterians seem to have lost their moral compass and violated their own oft-repeated injunction to do no harm and promote peace.”
 
PCUSA rejected divestment in 2006, 2008, 2010, and in 2012 when the General Assembly replaced a divestment resolution with a resolution that promoted interfaith understanding. That constructive resolution won by a wide margin, 369 to 290 with eight abstentions. But this year, PCUSA endorsed the bias and bigotry of divestment.
 
The Presbyterian Israel/Palestine Mission Network, which advocates divestment, had also distributed a fundamentally anti-Semitic tract, “Zionism Unsettled,” to Church members.  Both the Committee and the General Assembly officially distanced the Church from this offensive document, but it nevertheless exposed the bigotry that underlies divestment initiatives.
 
“Unfortunately, we've seen this same BDS pattern on campuses, in corporations, and elsewhere.  BDS leaders such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Kairos Palestine, and the American Friends Service Committee groom propagandists who instill hostility and prejudice against the right of the Jewish state to exist and defend its civilians.  As the Presbyterians know, these resolutions are bitterly divisive. PCUSA has been steadily losing membership, in part because of the General Assembly's battles against Israel.  One reason divestment may have passed this year is because many Presbyterians who support a fair approach towards Israel and the Palestinians have left the PCUSA,” observed Rothstein.
 
“This divestment vote is a blow for Israelis, Palestinians, peace-making, and the PCUSA itself which has now officially contributed to the BDS movement's malicious agenda, disqualified itself as a peace-maker, and destroyed trust in its judgment. We know that fair-minded Presbyterians such as those in PFMEP  understand that the way forward is through investment that promotes Israeli-Palestinian partnerships not divestment which helps no one.  PFMEP and other Presbyterians will continue to educate their faith community, and we will work with them to overturn this destructive resolution,” concluded Rothstein.

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