Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Office of Public Witness of the PC (U.S.A.) and their faulty Washington Report

The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness (OPW) has sent out their Washington Report to Presbyterians and they are once again singling out Israel. They devote all of page seven to the issue of boycotting Israel. Evidently there are no other nations that deserve such actions. We must dialogue with Iran, North Korea and Syria but not Israel. An example of their choice of  a company is SodaStream. They write:
SodaStream’s main production site is in Mishor Edomim, an Israeli settlement industrial park located in the West Bank. The land where the SodaStream factory is located was illegally confiscated from its Palestinian owners by the Israeli military occupation authorities. Israeli settlements are an impediment to peace and violate international law.
But Presbyterians for Middle East Peace has a video on their site that gives the true story of SodaStream and the help they give to some Palestinians: 

The Washington Report to Presbyterians offers a pledge for churches and presbyteries to sign stating they support the overture passed in the last General Assembly to boycott all products coming from Israeli settlements. They write:
As peacemakers committed to nonviolent resolution of deep-seated conflicts, we join a growing number of international and religious partners, including Jewish, Muslim, and Christian voices, who believe that a boycott can inspire a more useful dialog and negotiation towards a just and lasting peace in the Middle East. Respect for the dignity of every human being, alongside a vision to put aside the violence of terrorism, oppression, and military force is key to moving negotiations forward for a lasting peace for all involved.
Note that since they are only asking that Israel's settlements be boycotted they are undoubtedly inferring that terrorism is caused by Israel not by radical Islamist. Too often organizations in the PC (U.S.A.) single out Israel. And if the GA votes on a positive action those organizations either belittle the actions or they ignore them. The 220 GA voted to began a helpful investment program in Palestine, rather than divesting from companies doing business with Israel. The OPW did not mention this at all in their report and yet it was the most positive action the GA took to further the peace.

Here is what was passed; it is item 15-11:

1.     call for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to pursue a positive and creative course of action with respect to the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict that will make a difference in the lives of those who are most vulnerable on all sides and that will preserve an effective witness to peace in the entire region;
2.     call for a process of engagement that will bring Jews, Christians, and Muslims from the U.S. into effective partnering for study, travel, and social action;
3.     advocate for the development of educational programs that expose U.S. Christians, Jews, and Muslims to the varied experiences of both Palestinians and Israelis;
4.     devise a plan of active investment in projects that will support collaboration among Christians, Jews, and Muslims and help in the development of a viable infrastructure for a future Palestinian state. We also encourage greater denominational engagement with Christians in the West Bank around issues of job creation and economic development.
[5. instructs the General Assembly Mission Council to create a process to raise funds to invest in the West Bank, and the program will be inaugurated no later than the meeting of the 221st General Assembly (2014).]

On the web site of the Office of Public Witness it speaks of "a sovereign God" who "is at work in all the world."  We must never forget that our sovereign God is also at work in the PC (U.S.A.). If we do not follow in humble obedience, and in mercy and goodness, God's judgment will come also upon us. We are not a political organization although as Christians we must sometimes act in political ways. When we prefer boycott over  the hard work of dialogue we are political above all else. When we prefer dialogue, combined with our own prayers, we allow the Holy Spirit of God to move on hearts and change people and situations.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate these hectoring demands to boycott this or that product from Israel ... that helps me decide what to buy. After the BDS movement decreed that Sabra Hummus be boycotted, that became my preferred brand. Maybe I can use soda stream next year.


John Erthein
DeFuniak Springs, FL

Viola Larson said...

I use Sabra to for the same reason. But it is very tasty. And I almost bought SodaStream on our mini vacation last summer, but I got the yellow tea kettle instead: ) But I am still thinking about it. I could drink healthier sodas and not have to clutter up the earth with cans.