Why is the Presbyterian Church obsessed with condemning Israel?
The 220th General Assembly (GA) of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) opened Saturday June 30, 2012, and concluded on Saturday July 7, 2012. Held every two years, this GA is being held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A recurring feature of the PCUSA GA is the obsession the leadership has with condemning and undermining the Jewish State under the guise of responsible investing and social justice. The hypocrisy on display is evidenced by their agenda.
Sunday morning featured a session with Amgad Beblawi, an Egyptian native, who demonstrated his concern for human rights by posting a story titled “International Laws and UN Resolutions Broken by Israel” on his Facebook page but somehow neglects to mention the suffering of the Coptic Christians in his own country. Badlawi asserts on his Facebook page that “Human rights have been and are being violated daily by Israel. We will keep posting articles and laws that have been violated. Take action and do your part by spreading awareness.” No doubt, during his session at the GA, Beblawi did not note for the edification of the attendees that the Organization of Islamic Conference with its 57 member states represents nearly 1/3 of the UN General Assembly membership and that they devote 2/3 of their time to condemning Israel - the only democracy in the Middle East - rather than condemn the abusive Arab and Muslim dictatorships. Beblawi, the PCUSA Area Coordinator for the Middle East, Central Asia, and Europe, was charged with detailing the history of the PCUSA in the Middle East. One can only imagine what a “dhimmified” Egyptian Arab had to say about Israel and the Middle East. There were no counter reports scheduled that might have provided the attendees with another perspective.
Meanwhile the PCUSA overtures ignore the butchery in Syria, as well as human right abuses throughout the Arab and Muslim world against women and minority groups (non-Muslims, Kurds, Africans, etc.). The Presbytery of Muskingum Valley rose on Tuesday in “recognizing that Israel’s Law and Practices constitute Apartheid against Palestinian People.” Not only is this charge libelous, false and inflammatory, considering that 99% of Palestinians live under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, the fact Arab Muslims and Arab-Christians can serve as a judges in Israel’s Supreme Court, as well as members of the Knesset belie the charge. Absent in this discussion on apartheid is, for example, the fact that no Jew is allowed a government position in the Arab world or in the Palestinian Authority. The fact that Jordan, Gaza, the Palestinian Authority, as well as most of the Arab world, is Nazi-like Judenrein obviously did not bother the drafters of the Muskingum Valley nor the PCUSA leadership.
Also scheduled during the Tuesday morning session was the presentation of an overture by the Presbytery of San Francisco on “Boycotting Ahava Dead Sea Laboratories and Hadiklaim" (Israeli cooperative for date growers) and a call for “Divestment from Caterpillar.” The Presbytery of the Palisades was scheduled to call for “Approving the General Assembly Mission Council’s recommendation on Selective Divestment made by MRTI (Mission Responsibility Through Investment) to add Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard to the list of divestments.
The Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) hosted Arab-Palestinian artists and exhibited Palestinian art on Sunday from 2-10PM. This exposure essentially amounts to quiet pro-Arab-Palestinian propaganda, particularly when the statement posted on its webpage refers to occupation and abuse suffered by Palestinians: “As Presbyterians from around the United States gather in Pittsburgh this week for the 220th General Assembly (June 30-July 7) of the Presbyterian Church (USA), they will consider a motion to divest church holdings from three companies (Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions) that profit from Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands and abuses of Palestinian human rights. The vote will be the culmination of a long process within the church and years of outreach to the companies involved, with divestment a last resort.” The question that begs to be asked is why the PCUSA does not divest from China, Burma, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and a long list of other non-democratic oppressive regimes.
IPMN hosted a luncheon on Tuesday titled “The Effect of BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) on Muslim, Jewish, and Christian Relations." The speakers, Anna Baltzer (presented as “Jewish,” and “a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors"), and Fr. Fadi Diab, an Arab-Palestinian Anglican pastor who is one of the authors of the Kairos Document -- a viciously anti-Israel document -- are exclusively and rabidly anti-Israel. According to the agenda, they presented “the rationale for the BDS campaign launched by Palestinian Civil Society…”
On Wednesday, July 4th, the IPMN hosted another luncheon, “Israel and Palestine’s Place in the Arab Spring and U.S. Foreign Policy," with Rami Khouri, Editor-at-Large of the Beirut Star and a pro-Palestinian Lebanese Christian, as the keynote speaker.
In an attempt to ward off criticism of its shameful anti-Israel obsession, the PCUSA MRTI (Mission Responsibility Through Investment) issued a FAQ regarding divestment recommendations. Hypocrisy is rampant. Of particular note is #9: the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) divests from companies profiting from involvement in human rights violations in Israel and Palestine, so why isn’t the church divesting from American companies that do business in Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, China, Burma and many other countries where massive human rights violations are documented? Part of their response, “Not all of the human rights violations involve corporate complicity,” is telling:
MRTI along with its ecumenical partners engages many other companies doing business in countries with serious human rights challenges. Not all of the human rights violations involve corporate complicity. In addition, corporate engagement has resulted in changes in corporate policies and practices. However, in other cases where companies have refused to change, the General Assembly has placed them on the divestment list until the practices were changed. Examples are Talisman Energy in Sudan or sixteen key companies involved in South African apartheid in the 1980’s.
MRTI puts Israel in the same category as South Africa (where Apartheid was the law of the land) and Sudan (guilty of genocide in Darfur). Such out of touch associations are on the scale of comparing Netanyahu to Hitler and Stalin. FAQ #11 attempts to assure that the PCUSA is not anti-Semitic. While probably true when dealing with individual Jews, their hostility towards the Jewish collective -- the Jewish State of Israel -- is more than obvious. The PCUSA has a longstanding history of anti-Israel bias, and an extraordinary toleration for and indulgence in anti-Semitic themes.
Presbyterians For Middle East Peace (PFMEP), a voice of reason that was established to create balance on Middle Eastern issues, had this to say, “In spite of facts, the next GA will again be asked to put pressure on Israel to remove the Israeli security presence in the West Bank through calls to ‘end the occupation.’" Such an approach flies in the face of the approaches recommended by the Middle East Quartet (US, UN, EU, and Russia). It also challenges the approach taken by objective individuals such as Judge Goldstone who wrote in the NY Times 10/31/11), “It is important to separate legitimate criticism of Israel from assaults that aim to isolate, demonize, and delegitimize it…”
The PFMEP, unfortunately, failed to stop the torrent of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish statements. The Pittsburg Post-Gazette reported (7/3/12) that “The Committee on Middle East and Peacemaking Issues of the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly approved a resolution in Pittsburgh this morning by a vote of 36-11 with one abstention to divest from companies whose products are used by Israel to enforce occupation of the West Bank. The resolution recommends that the church divest from Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard after an eight-year corporate engagement process yielded no reforms. The general church body will vote on the resolution later this week.”
Hypocrisy and malice won the day at the PCUSA GA.
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