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Rabbinical Assembly Condemns Divestment Vote by Presbyterian Church (USA)

Posted on June 21, 2014 at 9:15 PM

In response to the decision by the Presbyterian Church (USA) to divest from three companies, Hewlett-Packard, Caterpillar, and Motorola Solutions, for engaging in business with the State of Israel, the Rabbinical Assembly issued the following statement.

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President, said:

We are deeply disappointed and angered by PC(USA)’s shortsighted and harmful decision to pass a resolution that divests the church’s holdings from certain companies that do business with the State of Israel, the Jewish national homeland. The church’s decision reflects a one-sided approach to Middle East issues, delegitimizing the Middle East’s only robust democracy and misrepresenting the complexity and history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. PC(USA)’s decision unfairly singles out Israel for condemnation and boycott in a manner that is biased and irrational. We condemn these actions for the falsehoods on which they are premised, their ignorance and for the rift they will cause between the Presbyterian Church and the international Jewish community. Rather than contribute to dialogue and peacemaking, this harmful action actually hinders goals that can only be achieved through constructive dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. 

Rabbi William Gershon, President, added:

We are, unfortunately, unsurprised by this action, since PC(USA) has signaled its disregard for Zionism—a central part of Jewish theology and identity- with its slanderous publication “Zionism Unsettled,” which equates the founding of the State of Israel to the Holocaust, denies the Jewish right to a homeland in Israel, and attempts to justify terrorism against Israel. The Rabbinical Assembly has already spoken out against “Zionism Unsettled” and we lament that the leaders of PC(USA) chose not to listen to concern voiced by Jewish leaders across-the-spectrum in response to its publication. PC(USA)’s decision to divest ignores the deeply complicated history of the region and hinders rather than helps Israeli and Palestinian efforts to broker a peace agreement. We call upon PC(USA) to reverse this unjust decision and to work with Jewish leaders in Israel and the diaspora to undertake a more balanced study of these difficult issues.

The anger is uncalled for, the distortion is unacceptable

I can understand how disappointed some people are that the PCUSA see things differently from the Israeli government; Bill's "unsurprised" is fitting here. But why the disrespect and distortions in the statement? Zionism Unsettled was produced by a committee but rejected by the plenum. The PCUSA is not anti-Israel, it simply shows it cannot support the occupation or profit from it, and neither can I. 

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