Monday, October 25, 2010

The Israel/Palestine Mission Network and the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement: ignoring PC(U.S.A.) policy

I am a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) but first of all I am a Christian. I belong to Jesus. That means in all things I must try to be fair and honest. That means I must love others. All others, as Jesus loved me. That means I must love the Palestinians of the Palestinian territories and those who are citizens of the State of Israel. And I must love the Jewish people of the State of Israel. And that is why I am outraged at the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). And I am outraged at my denomination that will not rein in the IPMN.

The IPMN have in my and other Presbyterian names joined the Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement which is a movement pushing against the whole State of Israel.

On the IPMN web site they have posted this Presbyterian Mission Network Joins BDS Movement. They begin the statement by suggesting that they will be boycotting products coming from Israeli settlements. But with the title and the end of their statement, they have, in fact, joined the whole BDS Movement which encourages not only the boycotting of products coming from Israel but also intellectual boycotts of published material and visiting professors.

The IPMN refers to The Amman Call but also to the Kairos Palestine: A Moment of Truth. The IPMN is a Presbyterian organization. The 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted against boycotting Israel. And they did not endorse the Kairos Palestine document but instead commended it for study. This was in part because of many objections by Presbyterians and others over its call for total divestment and boycotting of Israel.

IPMN constantly flaunts its supposed right to do whatever it pleases despite the fact it is a Presbyterian organization. It posted a video about Israel by a radical Palestinian and took ten days to remove it without apology. See The Israel/Palestine Mission Network posts a film put together by those espousing radical Islamic views of Israel. UP-date.

They produced a booklet, which accused the United States media of being controlled by the Jews and Israel. It also suggested that immigrants to Israel after World War II were not linked genetically to ancient Israel. See Were Holocaust victims linked genealogically to biblical Israel?

During the 219th GA they pushed a paper which stated that Jewish organizations in the United States had burned down a church and sent a package to the Presbyterian headquarters which possibly contained a bomb. Both were lies which IPMN later suggested was accidently left in their paper. They did not apologize. See I have no words: Carol Hylkema's answer to my e-mail also see An overture filled with fury: anti-Semitism again.

Recently on their Facebook page they have been linking to articles suggesting that there should be a one state solution to the Middle East problems, but that is not Presbyterian policy. It is time for the PCUSA to unlink from the Israel/Palestine Mission Network. Then with a great sigh of relief we can all try a little harder to love the other including both the Palestinians and the Israelis.

A friend just sent me this thought and I think it is a good suggestion: "With this public declaration of the IPMN joining the Israel-targeted international BDS movement, it might also seem timely and appropriate for the PCUSA's General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC) to remove the IPMN for the tax-exempt donation status that it currently enjoys with its numbered account status as a PCUSA Extra Commitment Opportunity (ECO) program budget line item under the control of the PCUSA treasurer."


will spotts said...

As it stands now, the acts of the IPMN are the direct responsibility - both legally and ethically - of the PC(USA) as a whole.

Viola Larson said...

Yes Will, and I hope some of the top GAMC leaders understand that. They are allowing a burden to be placed on the members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that should never be placed there. For one organization to make that kind of decision for so many is totalitarianism.

John Shuck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Shuck said...


john shuck
elizbethton, tn

John Shuck said...

Thanks Viola for that news. I am pleased the IPMN is taking this action.

And of course, Will Spotts. He tried (unsuccessfully) to say the PCUSA was responsible for everything I say. It didn't work then. It won't now. Do enjoy your rants, though.

The Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) is a grassroots organization established in 2004 with a mandate from the denomination’s General Assembly. This mandate is to advocate by “demonstrating solidarity and changing the conditions that erode the humanity of Palestinians.” As part of its mandate, the IPMN speaks TO the church not FOR the church.

Viola Larson said...

John, The IPMN is a PCUSA network. What they decide to do should be within the boundaries of PCUSA policy. Otherwise there is no need for a General Assembly. The problem is failure to discipline.

will spotts said...

As a matter of legal fact, the PC(USA) is responsible for the IPMN because the IPMN uses the PC(USA)'s tax exempt status.

This has nothing to do with the imprimatur ordination in the PC(USA) gives your statements. That is arguable, but the two are not the same thing.

Will Spotts
North East, MD

Pastor Bob said...

A few questions:

1. What exactly is the relationship between the IPMN and the GAMC?

2. Can the GAMC instruct the IPMN to take certain stands or act in certain ways?

3. To what extent is the IPMN required to reflect decisions of the GA in their statements.

I ask these questions because it seems to me that there are groups that act as if they are independent of the GAMC and GA decisions all the time. The ACSWP is a good example. They take positions that are clearly the opposite of what a GA has decided and try to influence the next GA to make a different decision.

One final question: does the IPMN receive funds from the GAMC?

Viola Larson said...

Perhaps a letter should be sent to both the GAMC and the IPMN asking the questions Bob has asked. I infact e-mailed my posting to three GAMC officials asking them to please listen to the concerns. I have not yet heard from anyone, although I am fairly certain that one or two of them read the posting.

Viola Larson said...

I think I should add that Will is correct when he says this, "As a matter of legal fact, the PC(USA) is responsible for the IPMN because the IPMN uses the PC(USA)'s tax exempt status."

That is something very serious.

Anonymous said...


You guys ignored the point that John made. That the IPMN does not speak FOR you, it speaks TO you.

They have been given the job of the devil's advocate.

You can disagree but you can't take offense. By design they do NOT represent YOU. By design they advocate for someone you despise.

Clearly they are not making any points with you, but the premise that they speak for you, out of turn, is incorrect. To the contrary. The fact that we belong to a denomination that tries to hear from those we despise from their own point of view shows that we put following Jesus above petty ideology. It is the purest expression of loving our enemies and praying for those that would persecute us as our Lord and Savior commanded us. I think their ministry calls us back to the teachings of Christ.

The proper response is to address the material witness they present. Advocate the opposite if you think they are so wrong. Prove that Israel is justified in its actions towards the Palestinians. Show how their love for their enemies is an example to us all.

Steve Justin
San Diego

Viola Larson said...

The IPMN do speak for Presbyterians because they are a Presbyterian organization and there is no other. And I do take offense.

They lie in many ways about the Jewish people (didn't you read my posting?)that is not following Jesus. They are called to love both peoples.

Viola Larson said...

Steve I actually came back and turned my computer back on to say this. The IPMN in joining the BDS movement is not speaking to anyone, instead they are doing something. Their actions are in total disregard to the rest of the Church.

Dexter Van Zile said...

I spoke to Hunter Farrell a while back. He says that his office is working on a set of rules or guidelines that groups must adhere to in order to maintain their status as part of the PC(USA)'s mission network.

The quote John Shuck used to prove that the IPMN speaks to the church and not for the church, indicates, in fact, that it does speak for the church.

The IPMN recieves funds from the church and the PC(USA) cannot act merely as a pass-through for the IPMN. It must exercise oversight for the money it provides to the IPMN.

Viola Larson said...

Dexter, that is good news. I hope something comes of it.