Friday the 20th the 221st Presbyterian General Assembly passed 04-04 to divest from three companies doing business with Israel. While the document passed by the GA contains a section that states that the PCUSA has no connections to the wider Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, they allowed both in committee and on the day of the plenary vote, Rifat Odeh Kassis to speak. Kassis is co-author of the Kairos Document which calls for a complete boycott of Israel.Kassis in an article 0n the Electronic Intifada writing of the Kairos Document states:
“The document calls for a complete system of sanctions of Israel. Not simply a boycott of products generated by settlements or of products in general, or of institutions and organizations that are unabashedly complicit in the occupation, but a total boycott. Our occupation is not selective, and so our opposition must not be.”
The Kairos document also calls for a return of the Palestinian refugees to Israel which would destroy the Jewish state. There would be no need for a two state solution then, only a need to once again find a safe homeland for the Jewish people.The push by the BDS movement has been so aggressive that one commissioner was handed a piece of propaganda as she sat participating in the consensus part of the assembly’s deliberations. Because of the timing, it rendered mute the two questions the commissioners were supposed to answer in their small group gatherings. That is:
“What did you hear that might lead someone to support the committee’s recommendation? [And the reverse] What did you hear that might keep someone from supporting the committee’s recommendation?
Presbyterians are so careful with order and government that they often forget that there are always those trying in various ways to undermine the polity in order to have their own way. And too often those seeking their own way are being led by those whose self-interest has nothing at all to do with the PC (U.S.A.) and their mission.
Thankfully, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the P C (U.S.A.) was removed from an item Friday night because of their anti-Semitic booklet Zionism Unsettled and their unhealthy opposition to most things Jewish. Also their publication Zionism Unsettled is to carry information that it is not a publication of the PC (U.S.A.). Still they are the organization leading the denomination into the global BDS movement. A movement in which they are heavily involved.
Until the Israel/Palestine Mission Network is dissolved their aggressive actions and their continuing advocacy will push the PC (U.S.A.) deeper and deeper into the BDS movement whose very goal is to destroy Israel as a Jewish State. And until the PC (U.S.A.) puts away their vision of peace in the Middle East via divestment and boycott, there will be no deepening of their relationships with most Jewish people in the United States.
I do not remember if it was Kassis or a different speaker, but one remark was that the Palestinian Christians are ancestors of the ancient church of the Holy Land, but the original biblical churches in that land were Jewish. While the Palestinian Christians are ancient and treasures to the world of Christianity; it is wrong to use the faith to undermine the reality of the biblical church which from its Jewish roots spread to the nations of the world. The Jewish peoples, alongside the Palestinians and other peoples of the region need peace and the Presbyterians need peace. In neither case will divestment help.