Thou Shalt Not Divest!

Posted: June 29, 2008 in anti-Semitism, God, Israel, Middle East, News & Views, Palestine, Palestinians, Politics, Religion, U.S., World News, Zionists

JTA, Global News Service of the Jewish People Jun 21, 2008

New Presbyterian statement angers groups

Ben Harris

Just days before it’s due to consider a range of motions on the Middle East at their biennial convention, the Presbyterian Church USA has released a document on combating anti-Jewish ideas. But Jewish organizational leaders say the statement is “infused with the very bias” it purports to condemn.

NEW YORK (JTA) — Just days before they are due to consider a range of motions on the Middle East at their biennial convention, the Presbyterian Church USA has released a document on combating anti-Jewish ideas. But Jewish organizational leaders say the statement is “infused with the very bias” it purports to condemn.

The document, “Vigilance Against anti-Jewish Bias In the Pursuit of Israeli-Palestinian Peace,” aims to help Presbyterians advance existing church policies opposing Israel’s occupation and the construction of the West Bank separation barrier, while avoiding anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish rhetoric.

“The purpose of this resource is to help Presbyterians guard against anti-Jewish bias, even as they make a strong stand for justice, and work in sustained ways for peace,” the document reads.

But to some Jewish ears, the document lays blame for the conflict squarely with Israel, avoids any substantive treatment of Arab support for terrorism, and is yet another church statement that appears to hold Israel responsible for the violence directed against it.

An unusually large coalition of 13 Jewish organizations — the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International, and the major bodies of the Conservative and Reform movements among them — harshly denounced the document last week.

The document’s release has generated fear that years of Jewish-Presbyterian dialogue following pro-divestment votes in 2004 and 2006 have yielded little fruit.

A feeling of betrayal was evident in a separate protest from the leaders of the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist synagogue associations, who wrote to the clerk of the Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Cliff Kirkpatrick, warning the document “marks a new low-point” in intercommunal relations.

In the letter, the leaders say the statement, which replaces an earlier one that was welcomed by the Jewish community, has generated “deep suspicion” that the Presbyterians are engaging in a “bait and switch.”

Presbyterian officials did not respond to requests for comment.

But the Rev. Charles Henderson, editor of the interfaith publication Cross Currents and a member of Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish and Christian Relations, said the document’s authors were not being deceitful. Henderson shares the concerns of Jewish leaders, but thinks the church’s pro-Palestinian factions were responsible for amendments to the original document.

“I think it was simply the fact that Jay Rock and others who may have been involved in the production of the document in the first place didn’t realize the firestorm they may have been stepping into,” Henderson said. “I know the people who are involved as players and I don’t think it was a deceitful bait-and-switch process at all.”

The Rev. Jay Rock is the church’s coordinator for interfaith relations.

“A paper that supposedly is dealing with removing anti-Jewish bias in fact becomes a paper on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If you read it through, that’s really the major theme,” said Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. “And it presents that conflict in a terribly one-sided way. Ultimately, the anti-Semitism part seems in many cases like an afterthought.”

Particularly galling to Yoffie was a lengthy quotation lifted from a recent speech in which he urged Jews to avoid alliances with conservative Christian Zionists like Pastor John Hagee. In that speech, he asserted that they don’t have Israel’s true interests at heart. The Presbyterians cited Yoffie to support their opposition to Christian Zionists whose beliefs, the document says, “negatively affect” Israelis and Palestinians.

“What infuriates me here is they quoted that and embedded it in a doctrine that is so hostile to Israel,” Yoffie said. “I’m not uncomfortable on the substance of the matter.”

In 2004, the Presbyterians became the first Protestant church to endorse divestment from companies doing business in Israel. The vote prompted a flurry of Jewish outreach, leading the church to retreat partially in 2006 with its call for engagement with companies engaging in peaceful pursuits.

After working to help defeat several divestment motions at the recent general assembly of the Methodist Church, Jewish leaders were hopeful that the divestment push could be similarly quashed at the Presbyterian conclave, which begins June 21 in San Jose, Calif.

But the release of the new document has darkened the forecast. It updates an earlier statement on the same subject, released in May, that addressed more fully Christian complicity in anti-Semitism and the tendency of Palestinian liberation theology to displace Jews from the biblical story of the Exodus.

In the liberation narrative, Palestinians are also sometimes compared to Jesus on the cross, which implicitly brands Israelis as Christ-killers in an echo of classic anti-Semitic charges.

“It’s a return to 2004,” said Ethan Felson, associate executive director of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “Divestment was always in the realm of symbolism. While there’s a calling to have their investments in peace that is understandable, there’s also a strategy that was unfolded at Durban to paint Israel as an apartheid state. We felt that was employed in 2004 and rejected in 2006.”

If the document does reignite the divestment push, it would appear to validate the claims made after the Methodist conference by Jewish Voice for Peace, a left-wing group based in San Francisco that stands virtually alone among Jewish organizations in supporting selective divestment as a means to pressure the Israeli government.

Jewish Voice for Peace saw the Methodist conference, which decided to keep divestment on the table even while rejecting several resolutions specifically targeting Israel, as a victory. The Jewish group also supports the new Presbyterian statement.

“To me, the question is not whether the statement was changed from A to B, but whether B is good,” wrote Sydney Levy, the group’s director of chapters and campaigns, in an email to JTA. “The answer is unequivocal: Yes. The current statement strikes a good balance between the two concerns of the church on this issue.”


  1. Obama’s popularity falling among some of the Jews? A powerful pro-Israel lobby group has criticised President Barack Obama’s decision to grant a top honour to former Irish president Mary Robinson, accusing her of bias towards the Jewish state. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) criticised Obama’s decision to award Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honour. Obama last week announced that he would recognise Robinson for her role as president of Ireland and as UN high commissioner for human rights. Among others honoured this year are US Senator Edward Kennedy, who is battling brain cancer, tennis great Billie Jean King and ground-breaking scientist Stephen Hawking.

    Too bad still that both the Jews and Arabs deliberately, equally do refuse to live in peace!

    Today’s Jews are are too quick to associate with the Promised Land of Joshua’s time. However, as per the conditions of the Bible , the New Testament and even the establishment of the State of Israel by the United Nations in 1948 it now raises many valid questions about that relationship validity. Still the state of Israel is big enough for both the Jews and Muslims to live together in peace too. So do all grow up and smarten up up. (Psa 133:1 KJV) Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

    ” Those who question the legitimacy of Israel’s actions are immediately labelled anti-Semitic by some quarters, effectively undermining the turn of phrase by using it in this context. We are right to question the state of Israel’s actions and I am not anti-Semitic for doing so. I think the religious fundamentalism exhibited by certain Zionist and Orthodox Jewish groups needs to be dealt with in a similar manner to Islamic fundamentalism, I don’t see the distinction between the two, both are equally repulsive. ” There are also many Israeli citizens who are extremely critical of their country’s BAD policies.


    It seems that anything anti Jewish is falsely distorted as being anti-Semitism again. And so is the New Testament, Christians, the apostles, and Jesus Christ now as well.. Well Free speech, Human Rights, freedom of religion and freedom of religious beliefs is still a Canadian right for all even for non Jewish persons too.

    any one who looks at the subject of prophecy, a real genuine Bible student knows that too many Jews ,who can only use the old testament, and there is almost no new testament substantiation for it, still the Jews, and many others have wrongfully now Distorted Biblical Prophecy Interpretation after the time of Jesus Christ to suit their false Jewish’s ends, a Jewish purpose, for they like Judas they betray Jesus Christ by these acts for Jesus next made it clear the second Jewish Kingdom of God was not in this world.. (John 18:36 KJV) Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

    And the false Jewish supporters can solely refer to the Old Testament verses now such as Jeremiah Chapter 31, Joel 3:2, Amos 9:15 and Psalm 83: for they undeniably have no New Testament substantiations, support for Israel’s return or possession now of the past promised land.

    Many evangelicals do now support a two-state solution and creation of a new Palestinian state that includes the vast majority of the West Bank. They support justice for both Israelis and Palestinians. If all of the learned men are going to be truly historically honest, surely they must admit that the Jews have every right to inhabit the land of their fathers, the covenant land given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by none other than God himself and admit that right was the same God who took the right next away from them, from that land now twice too… THE NEW TESTAMENT DOES NOT talk about the Jews return next third return to it too. But God still wants the Jews and Palestinians brothers to live in peace together.

    • Thennonconformer:

      Interesting and I agree with much of what you state. I too used to support a 2-State solution but not anymore. These NaZionists (Settlers) need to be expelled to the ghettos from which they came. Palestine NEVER belonged to the Jews. At one time it WAS inhabited by the 12 tribes of Israel: Israel being Jacob himself! Judaism “arrived” only after the Torah was revealed to Moses.

      See and the “Family Tree.”

      The simple fact is this: God did promise His servants who followed His commands the land of Milk and Honey during Moses time only: these people, bani-Isra-eel (Israelite) were anything BUT Jewish! Moses himself was not a Jew either.

      The Prophets have all submitted to God’s will and His commands. The Muslims view of Jacob and his sons is simple: they were Muslims! Judaism had not appeared yet and the Prophets all called for worshiping ONE GOD and follow His commands! The Israelite (sons of Jacob) stated at the time of Jacob’s death, as quoted in the Quran:

      2:133 Were ye witnesses when death appeared before Jacob? Behold, he said to his sons: “What will ye worship after me?” They said: “We shall worship Thy Allah and the Allah of thy fathers, of Abraham, Isma’il and Isaac,- the one (True) Allah. To Him we bow (in Islam).”

      And I’m sure you realize that the word Allah is the Arabic for God! The word God is different in every language: Elohim, Dieu, Dios, etc.

  2. poetwarrior says:

    About 150 Jewish voters gathered in June at a private home in Los Angeles for what marked a new phase in Senator Barack Obama’s outreach effort to the Jewish community.

    Some were longtime Obama supporters who came to hear what kind of help they can offer as the campaign moves to the general election from the primary. Some were backers of Senator Hillary Clinton hoping to learn more about the candidate and get some answers to questions about his views on Israel, the Middle East and domestic issues of concern for Jewish voters.

    The event itself, led by Rep. Howard Berman and former congressman Mel Levine, resembled any other meeting with Jewish voters in which the candidate’s foreign policy is praised and a call is voiced to bring out the Jewish vote come November elections.

    But it was nonetheless a first for the Obama outreach effort – a launch of what the Democratic presumptive nominee’s campaign is calling Jewish Community Leadership Committees.

    These teams are part of a larger attempt by the Obama campaign to enhance its Jewish-outreach operation and focus on introducing the Illinois senator to the Jewish community. This effort also includes a drive to bring in all available Jewish members of Congress to speak on behalf of the candidate and secure votes from their home districts.

    The Los Angeles gathering was private and not open to the media, and is meant to be the first of many such events. The Obama campaign is generally selecting co-chairs of the local JCLCs from the ranks of congressional delegations and leading Jewish figures. In Los Angeles, Berman, Levine and Reps. Henry Waxman and Adam Schiff chair the committee.

    “These committees will be our grass-roots base,” a campaign official said. “They will serve as a local address where Jewish supporters can come and help the campaign or raise questions and concerns.”

    Coordinating all this outreach nationwide is Eric Lynn, the Obama campaign’s Middle East policy adviser and Jewish community liaison. Lynn is part of a team helping to shape Obama’s policy on Israel and the region and to market it to Jewish voters, who, according to campaign officials, are still somewhat unaware of the Illinois senator’s record and of his views on these issues.

    Several members of Congress are already on board; most active among them is Florida’s Robert Wexler, who is working with the more conservative Jewish voters in his congressional district. Other Jewish lawmakers already working with the campaign include Illinois Rep. Jan Schakowsky, New Jersey Rep. Steve Rothman and New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg. Levine is also reportedly playing an important role in shaping foreign policy and making the appeal to Jewish voters.

    While what campaign officials call a “robust outreach effort” to the Jewish community is being planned, the next major step is a possible visit by Obama to Israel before November. The campaign would not confirm any overseas travel plans, but according to press reports, the candidate plans to stop in Israel as part of a pre-election visit to Iraq and Afghanistan. “We can only say that the Senator enjoyed his previous trip to Israel and is looking forward to visiting again,” a campaign official said.

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