Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thinking about the word holistic and divestment

What would the idea of holistic peace mean in the Middle East as far as Israel and the Palestinian territories are concerned? Positively it would mean that the needs of the Palestinians and the Israelis would be met. The Palestinians would have their own state; they would have ample supplies of water, goods for their infrastructure and homes. They would have a right to maintain and be present in their holy places. They would have a form of government that would allow their citizens both freedom and responsibility. They would have the means and ways to flourish.

The Israelis would continue as a Jewish state. They would continue on--working out their democracy—overcoming any racism in the same ways that the democracies of the West continue to do so. They would have the right to their holy sites also. Most of all they would have security with no one sending rockets their way; no one threatening to drive them into the sea. I am sure that others could fill in more blanks for a holistic peace. But this is a great deal of the picture of a holistic peace.

Now move the question backward. What will make for a holistic peace? Good for both sides means working with both-- the Palestinians and the Israelis. And move holistic even farther back; how has holistic thinking affected the urge toward peace? There is a positive side and a negative one.

The positive side takes into account all of the problems on both sides, as well as caring for, loving and working for the good of both. But on the negative side holism has a strange effect. That is, various groups of people and organizations all concerned with only one side—shape the thoughts of all against the other side. That is, those who are extreme influence others who are more moderate. They all begin thinking alike. The consequences accumulate and even those who insist they are not influnced are.

I am sure that the pro Palestinian side could say that those who are called Christian Zionists are doing that. And we could sort that out, but I want to look at all of those on the other side and analyze them since GAMC’s recommendation to GA follows the Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI)’s recommendation to divest from  Hewlett-Packard, Motorola Solutions and Caterpillar. And all those who are gathered behind them including the BDS movement are counting on the passage of the recommendation in order to affirm their own feelings toward Israel. I will explain. [1]

Several months ago I was informed that Mission Responsibility Through Investment was the sole source of GAMC’s recommendation to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard. And that is technically true; however, there are connections and influences that tend to change the picture

For instance in 2004-5, Carol Hylkema was chairwoman of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee. She at that time along with other members of the committee called for divestment from “Caterpillar Inc., Citigroup, ITT Industries, Motorola Inc. and United Technologies.”[2] No longer the chairperson of MRTI, Hylkema undoubtedly has influence with MRTI as well as many in the GAMC.

Because of her influence and because Hylkema is moderator of the Presbyterian Israel/Palestine Mission Network, an organization deeply involved in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, commissioners to the 220th General Assembly should be aware of the activity of IPMN. Those activities include pushing a petition connected to MRTI’s recommendation to divest from the companies. It is aimed at influencing voters.

For the members of IPMN, as well as other members of the BDS movement, of which IPMN is a part, the call for divestment from three companies is a hopeful step toward a denominational move into the BDS movement. Their desire is to delegitimize the Jewish State of Israel. While it is important to say that delegitimization is not the motivation of many Presbyterians concerned about the Palestinians and peace the divestment recommendation is the hope of many members and organizations who are a part of the BDS movement including IPMN.

There is a long list of heinous actions taken toward both the Jewish people and Israel by IPMN. And they do influence the PC (U.S.A.). For instance at the last General Assembly the IPMN attached a paper to an item; the paper suggested that Jews in the United States had sent a bomb to Louisville and burned down a church. (Definitely a lie.) Until just recently they had a Facebook page on which they often linked to very anti-Semitic sites. And in a booklet, Steadfast Hope, which they published several years ago they made the statement that most Israeli citizens were not really Jewish but the European children of converts. The list is long. [3]

The point here is that many speaking to Committee 15 will be somewhat influenced by misconceptions—such as everything wrong or oppressive in the Middle East can be laid at Israel’s door. But rather than a negative approach that gathers all up in a one sided focus on Israel, both sides must have care and solutions—but not simply divestment for one side which only feeds into movements that are not helpful. A true holistic approach reaches out to everyone.

[1]For an excellent view about the usefulness of Caterpillar see

[2]Presbyterian Church begins 'progressive engagement' process with five companies - Louisville - Business First

[3]For a longer list see "Bias" by Will Spotts

1 comment:

will spotts said...

Your point about influence is very true.

In the presence of extremist or one-sided views, the whole dialogue of the moderate shifts shifts toward that extreme.