Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Presbyterian Historical Society and a historical lie: divestment again

If you tell a lie often enough .... and manage to get it published in historical archives, well maybe it will last forever, or maybe honest historians will dig through everyone's archives and write about the perverseness of leadership among some Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) organizations at the beginning of the 21 century.

A twitter link posted by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network leads to the Presbyterian Historical Society and an interview of Jeffery DeYoe, the advocacy chair of IPMN. In the Matrix of Occupation, David Staniunas interviews DeYoe on the PC (U.S.A.)'s policy on divestment and the lie that the policy has never changed continues.

And for historical records there is another lie, now there in the archives, and that is that the debate about divestment was all one sided. That there was no other group of Presbyterians standing for peace between Palestinians and Israelis without the troubling push for divestment. For the historical records to be complete David Staniunas should also do an interview with a leader of Presbyterians for Middle East Peace.

But back to the information given by DeYoe on the question of divestment. Just as the Presbyterian Office of the General Assembly started, in their article, with the year 2004 when GA voted to divest from several companies, and then skipped the 2006 GA when divestment was rescinded, so DeYoe does the same. They both skip to the year 2012.

But as I have explained before, the GA of 2006 rescinded the actions of the 2004 GA. They not only rescinded, changing one action to a different action, they apologized to the Jewish community for the actions of the 2004 GA.

They changed:

“Refers to Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI) with instructions to initiate a process of phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel, in accordance to General Assembly policy on social investing, and to make appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly Council for action.”


To urge that financial investments of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), as they pertain to Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, be invested in only peaceful pursuits, and affirm that the customary corporate engagement process of the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investments of our denomination is the proper vehicle for achieving this goal.”

The apology on this item was, "1. We acknowledge that the actions of the 216th General Assembly (2004) caused hurt and misunderstanding among many members of the Jewish community and within our Presbyterian communion. We are grieved by the pain that this has caused, accept responsibility for the flaws in our process, and ask for a new season of mutual understanding and dialogue."

May the better side of our Presbyterian heritage be preserved and sheltered from lies by the Lord of the Church. And may the historians of our church contend for the art of proper historical accountability. The true historian does not record only one side of contentious disagreements in an organization.


Pam said...

The biennial reappearance of the divestment in companies that trade with Israel is typical of much of the irrelevant focus that makes members like me shake my head and wonder where 'church home' has disappeared to. What about helping Muslim women in the Middle East gain respect in their communities and families? What about helping victims of human trafficking here in our own country? This divestment issue is some group's pet agenda issue that ignores complex nuances, but is a fixation that is disillusioning to many of us. Let's talk about something serious this time.

Viola Larson said...

The perfect word Pam, "fixation."