Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Middle East Committee and an unfair and divisive movement (additional information)

I am adding additional material to this posting in order to help General Assembly commissioners understand how they may deal with the problem I have written about. Please look in the body of my posting for recommendations.

There are many battle lines forming around the  Middle East issues coming to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The problem is that the carts in the lines are all being filled by those telling a lopsided story.  And their stories will be extensive and long, while, unfairly, those who want a secure state for Israel as well as a state for the Palestinians will barely be heard.

Today, Sunday the 25th, Anna Baltzer who is a Boycott, Divestment Sanctions activist and co-founder of End the Occupation. org, tweeted:

"Anna Baltzer@Anna_Baltzer 9h
More than a decade in the making, this would be the largest U.S. divestment victory to date: "
When one clicks on her link it is about the attempt at divestment by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Notice on that posting is this remark:
 "In just three weeks, decision makers from the Presbyterian Church (USA) -- a mainline Protestant denomination with more than 1.9 million members and 10,000 congregations -- will gather to consider several historic resolutions supporting human rights and justice in Palestine/Israel. These resolutions call for a boycott of Hewlett Packard, equal rights for all, naming Israeli apartheid, researching and witnessing on the ground, and last but not least, divestment from three U.S. companies profiting from the Israeli occupation." (Bold author's)
Scrolling down further on the page, this can be found:
"The US Campaign will be there on the ground, testifying in the Presbyterian Middle East committee as an official resource expert, supporting local activities, and so much more, but we can't do it without you." (Bold mine)

This means that while those who do not believe that Israel is an apartheid state and see positive investment as a better means of peace, will only get a few minutes to speak in the committee, all of the outside experts, most who are not Presbyterians, will have been given, officially, a lengthy amount of time.

This means that while the first official moderator of the committee was ousted because of his paid visits to Israel and his attendance at an interfaith Seder, many non-Presbyterians, as well as Presbyterians,  who have been funded by outside interests funneled through End the's U. S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation will be given a great amount of time to speak.

The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, in its 2011 annual report lists quite a few organizations that belong including, Council on American-Islamic Relations-Greater—Los Angeles Chapter: Anaheim, CA.

In the 2012 annual report of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, many college solidarity and divestment groups are listed rather than the other organizations. But the point is outside funding and activity from one side will be affecting the work of the Middle East Committee. And it is not innocently done, but is intentional.

There are solutions for commissioners to the General Assembly that speak to the problem of resource people from outside organizations funded by unknown entities being used in committee. Committee  members have the right to decide what resources, including people, may be used in committee.

In the Manual of the General Assembly-2014[1] on page 20 under # 2. 'Procedures for Assembly Committee Meetings,' under letter d is this statement:

"Each committee shall determine the use to be made of the resource material or resource persons available to assembly committees. Each assembly committee shall determine whether or not to permit the distribution of particular materials to the committee members."

This means that committee members are to make the final decision about who will speak to the committee.

There are also solutions to the problem of too many speakers coming from only one side of the issue. In the Manual, also under 'Procedures for Assembly Committee Meetings,' under e, 'privilege to speak,' is the statement:

"(8) The committee moderator shall provide that the total time allotted to persons, other than members of the committee, who speak for or against a recommendation be equal so far as possible." (And this is not for public hearings which come under a different heading.)

Also committee members are allowed to ask for other experts to speak, with the understanding that the committee votes on allowing them. (See under privilege to speak. The rule allows  "(5) Persons invited by the committee through a majority vote of the committee") I was allowed to speak on an issue in the Middle East Committee  at the 220 General Assembly, because of a gracious vote, but I will write about that for a different posting.

It is time for members of the PCUSA to realize that they are being manipulated by small but very vocal and strident organizations which belong to the BDS movement. They are at this point working hard to pass divestment measures on university campuses and they have been involved in intimidating students. The videos below will show how divisive the BDS project is.

[1] To find the manual go here:


"Published on Mar 26, 2014
University of Michigan student Chris spoke in opposition to the anti-Israel divestment resolution on March 25, 2014 -- The resolution was voted down by the student assembly 25-9"


Neil D. Cowling said...

In the interest of full disclosure Anna Baltzer is not only " a Boycott, Divestment Sanctions activist and co-founder of End the" it also should be noted that she is Jewish.

Viola Larson said...

Yes, she is Jewish!