Will there be aggressive intimidators overwhelming the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s General Assembly? Since 2004 the PC (U.S.A.) has voted on divestment from companies doing business with Israel. In 2004, commissioners voted yes, in 2006 the GA apologized to the Jewish Community and voted against divestment. Once again we are voting on divestment but some things have changed. The Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement has recently invaded many of America’s universities. And while some student councils have given an emphatic no, there have been those among the BDS movement who have manipulated, intimidated and threatened those who declined the invitation to divest.One newspaper, the Washington Free Beacon on March the 21st published an article, “Palestinian Activists Violently Threaten Pro-Israel Students, with the subtitle, “Cops called in after Palestinian activists threaten BDS opponents.” This was at the University of Michigan where the student government refused to back divestment of companies doing business in Israel. While the student reported threats from those staging a sit-in, there were other reports one given by Dumisani Washington, director of The Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel. In a Facebook report he wrote:
"I received disturbing news from a friend, and am speaking out (before I turn in).
Apparently there is an African American young man who is being ridiculed, shunned and even receiving death threats for voting against BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) measures against Israel. He is also being kicked out of the schools BSU (Black Student Union) in retaliation.”
And from a wider view, and an intimidating one, Philip Weiss, of Mondoweiss wrote of the aggressiveness of activist at Vassar. “Over 200 students and faculty jammed a large room of the College Center, and torrents of anger ripped through the gathering. Most of them were directed at Israel or its supporters.”Weiss, in fact, in his article, “Ululating at Vassar: the Israel/Palestine conflict comes to America,” encourages such actions and attitudes as shouting, bullying, and belligerence. He writes about the conflict at Vassar in which some students and professors were traveling to Israel and Palestine to study water issues. The protest was over whether the itinerary was too Israel focused. After writing about the conflict Weiss writes:
But the meeting shows where the Israel/Palestine conflict is headed: to the United States. The battles we’ve seen so far on campus are just preliminaries. The ugly and intractable Israel-Palestine conflict is set to become a raging conflict inside the American progressive community and spread from there to the broader discourse. And given the liberal establishment’s marriage to Israel (from Pelosi to de Blasio to Jerry Brown to Vassar) things are going to get much more belligerent before there is any understanding.
In fact, that belligerence may be necessary to the resolution.One particular university, Northeastern University, has banned the Students for Justice in Palestine, a group connected to the BDS movement, from campus and from funds. According to an NBC news report:
The administration cited several violations of campus policies and procedures, most recently when SJP failed to get university approval to distribute 600 fliers on February 23.
The fliers were designed as mock eviction notices to symbolize the Palestinian experience in occupied territory, where homes have been razed for Israeli settlements. It warned the reader that their dorm was “scheduled for demolition in three days,” followed by statistics on displaced Palestinian families. The flier was punctuated by a disclaimer at the bottom: “This is not a real eviction notice. #BostonMockEviction.”There is a dispute about whether the group has been unfairly targeted—and it is a fair dispute—and yet if one scrolls down toward the bottom of the article there is a very telling picture which makes a statement that really defines the whole BDS movement and is itself intimidating. It is a picture of pro-Palestinian demonstrators with a sign that states: “From the River to the Sea: Palestine.” That means no more Jewish State of Israel, in fact, no more Israel at all. How should Jewish students feel, if not intimidated? The SJP organization, which, as I have stated, is a part of the BDS movement, is asking for an end to the solid ground of the Jewish student’s world, the end of their safety net. (*)
General Assembly leadership, take note, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network has already set the tone for this GA with their awful ZionismUnsettled, and they are part of the BDS movement. They constantly use and even write for Mondoweiss. They linked to the article on Vassar on their twitter page. They also read that quote that “belligerence may be necessary to the resolution,” and still thought it was a good article.In a movie I am especially fond of, “To Sleep with Anger,” a character representing Satan, played by Danny Glover, visits a family who believe he is an old friend. Alongside him, eventually, comes a long string of other ‘old friends’ with various ugly character flaws who almost destroy every relationship in the family. (One will notice in this case the mother in the family becomes the Christ figure.) But the point is one opens the door to evil and the host of hell follows.
The danger is far greater than we might imagine. Scripture reminds us that we are not struggling with flesh and blood, but we are struggling against “the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” That means that our souls are in danger because of our own anger and frustrations. And our concerns for both the Israelis and the Palestinians can be destroyed in the fray. We must remember, we are not struggling against people, but for the will of the Lord to be done. I believe we must be committed to His purpose and His peace.