Bigotry and Ignorance Won the Day at the PCUSA General Assembly

cirseal-white-colorAt the 221st General Assembly (GA) of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) in Detroit, MI, (June 14-21, 2014) the haters won the day. Rev. Dr. John Wimberly, co-convener of Presbyterians For Middle East Peace (PFMEP), warned at a breakfast meeting on Saturday, June 14, 2014, just prior to the plenary meeting, that if the vote on divestment from companies that do business with Israel should pass this year’s PCUSA GA, it would be hitching its train to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement, a secular, non-church group that rejects the Two-State Solution.

The PCUSA General Assembly voted 310-303 to approve an overture calling for divestment from Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions. The pro-BDS and anti-Israel elements within the PCUSA who won the vote alleged that these companies are engaged in “non-peaceful pursuits” in the region. While similar overtures failed in 2012 (333-331) as well as in 2006, 2008, and 2010, this time the haters of Israel had their way. Bigotry and ignorance won the day at the PCUSA General Assembly (GA). The ignorance of the voting delegates concerning issues pertaining to the Middle East, and the persistence of anti-Israel bigots, aided by the January, 2014 anti-Israel track “Zionism Unsettled,” contributed to the defeat of reason and moderation.

The 2014 PCUSA GA embraced the course of divestment and the radical, polarizing agenda of the international BDS movement. The international BDS movement’s stated goal is to create one non-Jewish state replacing Israel and Palestine, a position that is totally at odds with the PCUSA’s longtime commitment to a two state solution. It is also opposite to the bi-partisan U.S. government policy, which supports the two state solution.

Apparently the small and determined advocacy group within the PCUSA, representing the Israel-targeted international BDS movement, has lobbied the denomination since 2004 to divest from companies that supposedly support Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. It does not matter to these haters of Israel that the targeted companies work closely with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in an effort to build up the Palestinian economy. For the past decade, the BDS advocates have denied that they want to do the Jewish state of Israel any harm. But, no matter how much they try to cover up their anti-Israel agenda, the hypocrisy and malice of this group is transparent.

If human rights abuses were of real concern to these anti-Israel forces within the PCUSA, they would not target the only democratic state in the region that respects human rights and religious freedom of all its citizens, Arabs and Jews. Moreover, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the years before the Intifada enjoyed employment and freedom in Israel, as well as profited from thousands of Israelis who shopped in the West Bank. Palestinian terrorism that came along with the Oslo Accords, (Palestinian terror and murder of Jews existed before Oslo, but the Oslo Accords provided easier access to Israel), and particularly the Second Intifada initiated by Yaser Arafat (chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and PA) that killed over 1,000 Israelis, compelled the Israeli governments to use defensive measures against suicide bombers. Check points and the defensive barrier was the Israeli response. No civilized society would tolerate indiscriminate terror against its citizens, not even the “progressives” of PCUSA.

The forces behind the 2014 divestment overture come from the same core of so-called “progressive” elements within PCUSA that authored the notorious track titled Zionism Unsettled – A Congregational Study Guide. The Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) 68-page guide accompanied by a DVD was meant to influence the GA delegates.

The IPMN was made up of “progressives,” who were influenced by “Liberation Theology” and a Marxist worldview. Many of the same people labored to connect the PCUSA to the BDS movement, and are behind the 2014 divestment resolution. They have mobilized on behalf of the Palestinians not for altruistic reasons but for hatred of the Jewish State. Consider the mass killings in Syria (and the destruction of churches and the beheading of priests), the persecution of Christian Copts in Egypt, the murder of Christians in Iraq, and the rest of the Muslim world. Notice the lack of initiatives for overtures to condemn the killing of innocent civilians (mostly Muslims) in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere in the Muslim world. The IPMN did not author a study guide dealing with any of these issues. Nor is there mention of the human rights abuses and lack of religious freedom in the PA and Hamas controlled Gaza. They do however have a problem with Zionism. The IPMN and the pro-BDS party that initiated the divestment overtures see the very idea of a homeland in Israel for the Jewish People as illegitimate. Yet, they have no problem with 22 Arab-Muslim states which are governed by Sharia Islamic law, and where non-Muslims are perpetually discriminated against. The IPMN and the pro-divestment crowd hold the fundamental assumption that there is no room for particularistic claims that can be justified in a interconnected, pluralistic world. In other words, there is no right for Jewish self-determination, also known as Zionism.

James Owens, a PCUSA member, summarized the PCUSA GA Divestment vote best in his comments published on the PCUSA website on June 21, 2014. He wrote “To my Jewish friends: I am terribly sorry about the vote of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church – my church – to divest from companies performing work in the West Bank and Gaza. I believe this is an act of actual or symbolic anti-Semitism, for the church has not taken a similar stand on investments in other non-Jewish states whose sins against their own citizens, or the citizens of territories they have occupied, is far worse. The BDS movement has singled out Israel because it is the Jewish state, and I believe that the movement’s supporters (including those who glory in the murder of children) hope for the destruction of Israel no matter what they tell their Western enablers. I hope and believe that the well-meaning people who voted in favor of the measure did not understand what they were doing. But well-meaning people who support evil out of ignorance cannot be forgiven even if they were willfully blind to the natural consequences of their actions. I promise you this: I will work to rectify this sin.”

Professor Jonathan Marks, writing in the Wall Street Journal Opinion page (June 23, 2014) titled his piece Presbyterians Join the Anti-Israel Choir.” He pointed out that the PCUSA is “bleeding members.” Between 2000 and 2013, about 765,000 members left the church. The vote he said “Is a victory for anti-Israel forces within the church.” Marks concluded “With dwindling membership the PCUSA clearly needs new friends, but the church does itself no favors by courting Israel’s enemies.”

Speaking at the PFMEP Saturday, June 14, 2014 breakfast, Gaith al-Omari, a former advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, opined that “if you want to support Palestinians you invest in Palestine, and if you are for a two-state solution, you cannot be for divestment or BDS. If you want to be pro-Palestine, you don’t have to be anti-Israel.”

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the champion of the American civil rights movement, responding to a hostile question about Zionism from a student at Harvard University shortly before his assassination, said, “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism.” The anti-Israel bigots who wrote “Zionism Unsettled,” and engineered the passing of the divestment resolution fit the description given by the late Rev. Dr. King.

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  • JohnfromToronto

    It’s funny that the PCUSA will dwindle to a rump because it is being BDS’d into that position. People are voting with their feet.

    • Odin2

      You are right about that. I am.

    • rar113

      Happy Canada Day, John!

  • antisharia

    PCUSA is an irrelevancy. It has less than two million congregants, most of them not involved with the church,and they’ve been bleeding members for decades. The only people happy with PCUSA are leftists, and the anti Semites at the american conservative.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      kkk david duke sent his congratulations to the PCUSA/CPUSA for their vote.

      kkk david duke saw a kindred spirit in the PCUSA logo of a burning cross.

  • nkta

    I applaud PCUSA to take a stand against crime against humanity conducting by Israel. No people should be subjected to mass detention in concentration camps like the Palestinians. The US politicians and their cronies are too afraid of the Israel lobby and enjoying its money too much to voice that Israel is committing the same crime that the nazis perpetrate on the Jews in WW@, The concentration camps of West Bak and Gaza are killing the culture and the future of the Palestinian people. Israel has the rights to exist but not in decimating millions of innocent people like the Nazis did to them in WW2. The Chosen People has no more rightfully claims to its existence by committing war crime and crimes against humanity because they claim to be the God’s Chosen People. The Israel God is merciful and loving and not spiteful or criminal like the Israel for the past 50 years. How would you like it if you have been imprisoned en mass for 50 years watching the Israel military slowly but surely extinguishes the past, present and future of a once proud people of Palestinian by stealing lands, killing rock throwing youths with bullets purchase from the US, economic embargo to keep Palestinians destitute, forming a welfare state that depends on Israel’s whim and what little that it shells out. It’s pure crime against humanity by any relevant definition. It’s time to stop defending this crime against humanity. I am outraged and I am not even an Arab or Muslim; just another western Christian.

    • rar113

      “just another ignorant western Christian” if that is what you in fact are. Please provide evidence that so-called Palestinian Arabs are living in “concentration camps.” Last I looked people were killed in those camps, but the Arab population has grown under the so-called “occupation.” Murderous Arab hostility to Israel long predates the state of Israel, let alone the so-called “occupation.” The PLO was formed in 1964, 3 years before the liberation of the Jordanian- and Egyptian-occupied parts of the Land of Israel, with the specific aim of destroying Israel. Clearly the occupation, the “settlements,” and all the other lame excuses for Arab terrorism have nothing to do with the reality. Get yourself a life.

    • fpadia2001@gmail.com

      You mean then Palestinians who elected Hamas as representatives in their government? The same Hamas who has vowed to wipe Israel from the face of the earth? The same Hamas who killed three teenage boys? Those are your oppressed people?

    • Captlee

      Didn’t put a whole lot of thought into this nonsensical post, did you. At least not sober thought. When you state lies as facts, they can be checked – or do you think everyone who reads your post is as gullible and stupid as you are.

    • Sussex Girl

      The Jews don’t claim to be God’s chosen people; the Bible says they are. If you have a problem with that, take it up with Him.

      As for the Palestinians, there is no state of Palestine. The Romans gave Israel that name to degrade the Israelites. The name comes from Philistine, a nation that had been enemies with Israel for hundreds of years. Before 1948, everyone who lived in that land was called Palestinian–there were Palestinian Jews, Palestinian Arabs, and Palestinian Christians. The refugee camps the Palestinian Arabs are currently living in are NOT in Israel. They’re in places like Lebanon, in countries which could have given the refugees a home if they had wanted to, just like the Jews in Israel gave homes to the Jews who were forced from their homes in Arab countries. The Arabs actually living in Israel are Israeli citizens with full voting rights and all that comes with citizenship.

      The camps exist because the Arabs want them to. They could close them any time. But by keeping the Palestinians in the camps, generations of Jew-haters are being kept festering, ready to kill more children on buses. And those children weren’t throwing rocks.

      • Paul

        Exactly. Arab states blame the problem on the Jews, but will not help the Palestinians do anything but kill themselves.

  • Fr. Brendan Pelphrey

    As other posts have pointed out, PCUSA is now fundamentally irrelevant, not only to the United States but to Christian history. It abandoned Christian faith and practice many years ago. That is why so many former Protestants like myself have become, and are becoming, Orthodox Christians. The Eastern Churches have existed for centuries under Islamic domination, and understand it. My congregants who grew up under intolerance in Turkey and the Middle East do not hate Muslims but have a good working knowledge of what Islam means today. And yes, the signs of the times are clear.

  • freonpsandoz

    “The international BDS movement’s stated goal is to create one non-Jewish state replacing Israel and Palestine”

    As far as I can determine, this statement is FALSE. The stated goals of the BDS movement are for Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders and to respect the right of return for Palestinian refugees. It is true that the latter might have the effect of creating a non-Jewish majority in Israel if a large number of Arabs opted to return. But the first goal is not in opposition to a two-state solution; in fact, it is an important part of such an agreement, and is worthy of our support.

    • Pete

      ” It is true that the latter might have the effect of creating a non-Jewish majority in Israel …”

      so they can be treated like Jews and Christians have been treated for the last 13 centuries in Muslim controlled lands.

      You are a piece of work.

    • fpadia2001@gmail.com

      You may want to consider that Israel took possession of the West Bank by defeating six Arab countries who chose to attack it. The loser in a war is not the one who gets to dictate terms.

    • Sussex Girl

      OK, and how about the right of return of the Jewish refugees who were forced to leave the Arab nations that had been their homes for generations? Can they return to their jobs and homes in Syria and Egypt? Not that they would want to, mind you, but could they?

      About the same number of Jews, around half a million, were forced from their homes after the UN decision in 1948 as Arabs who were displaced. The Arabs who are demanding a right of return, however, LEFT ISRAEL VOLUNTARILY–THEY WERE NOT FORCED OUT BY THE JEWS. The Arab nations told them that the Jews were getting pushed into the sea and they’d better get out of the way.

      Here’s the catch: The Jews who were FORCED out of their homes were welcomed home in Israel. The Arabs who voluntarily left their homes were placed into refugee camps BY OTHER ARABS. Syria and Egypt and the rest could have made room for them but chose not to knowing that leaving them festering in the camps would create several generations of Jew-haters.

      As for the pre-1967 boundaries, those areas, like the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, were part of Israel until Israel was attacked after the UN decision in 1948. Yes. Israel simply took back what was hers. Had the Arab nations not jumped on Israel in an unprovoked attack, those areas might have been given to a Palestinian state, but the partition never happened because the Arab nations don’t believe in a Jewish state at all and so they attacked. Done. The land belongs to Israel.

  • Pete

    There are not too many profitable companies that are solid.

    What are they going to do? Sell Caterpillar and buy GM?

    They are going to sell HP and buy Goldman Sachs? how would that look. You sell the stock of people that make an actual product to buy stock in a bankster/gangster company.

    Leave them to their foolishness.

  • fpadia2001@gmail.com

    These decisions may be the final straw that causes the dissolution of PCUSA. IN the past 10 years, the more radical elements of the assembly have seized more and more control until this year when the pushed the agenda right off the reservation. Traditional, conservative Presbyterians like me no longer feel represented by the leadership of PCUSA and I am personally struggling with remaining in a denomination which for a large portion of my life has been of great importance. However, these blatant and bigoted actions as well as the revised definition of marriage using tactics is clear violation of the Book of Order make it clear that like the current administration, the majority of the assembly have little regard to the laws and more important Reformed theology we have long held as central to define who we are as a Church

  • herman

    Perhaps the PCUSA has been lubricated with that sweet, crude oil money.

  • nkta

    I maybe harsh with my statement, but check Haaretz. Similar sentiments in some of their editorials.

  • Paul

    Did the assembly address how a peaceful solution between Hamas and Israel comes together when the Hamas charter calls for the distraction of Israel? Regarding antisharia’s comment below, the PCUSA is leftist if it votes this way. If a church belongs to the World Council of Churches, it is led by leftists.