Presbyterian Church (USA) Divests From Israel

— Benjamin Suarato

In advance of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s biennial General Assembly this summer, church leaders made the disappointing decision to approve a report that calls for divestment from three companies for their sales to Israel. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs, together with the Israel Action Network, an initiative of The Jewish Federations of North America in partnership with the JCPA, called on Presbyterians to return to their commitment to positive outcomes and abandon the path to divestment which will not foster reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians will poison the well for positive interfaith relations between the Jewish and Presbyterian communities.

More after the jump.
“We are profoundly disappointed by the General Assembly Mission Council’s decision to recommend this report,” said JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow. “Neither peace nor the long friendship between our two communities is served by this action.  It is tragic that national Presbyterian leaders are making the delegitimization of Israel a public witness of their church. Once again, we turn to our friends who will gather in the church’s General Assembly this summer to find a path towards peace rather than dissension.  The proposed resolution drives a wedge between our two communities, frustrates interfaith cooperation and undermines our joint efforts to pursue social justice.”  

Rabbi Gutow continued, “The JCPA and the IAN encourage communities to work together to foster peace through efforts of reconciliation.  The parties know enough conflict.  Why add to the division?”

“The Presbyterian and Jewish communities should work together to build support for goals everyone should share – a two-state solution with peace and security as the only means to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said JCPA Chair Dr. Conrad Giles. “Divestment does not achieve this goal. It ignores the complexity of the conflict by singling out one party.  It weakens relationships that are already fragile.   It misuses American companies as a proxy for parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

The JCPA has worked closely with the Israel Action Network, which is chaired by David Sherman of Chicago, key JCPA national member agencies, Jewish Community Relations Councils throughout the country, and local rabbis to build relationships with local church leaders to foster dialogue and programs that support peace and reconciliation and reject delegitimization and divestment.

Video: Peace Needs Partners

— Geri Palast

The Israel Action Network (IAN) and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) are gathering signatures for a petition opposing a Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence (UDI) at the U.N.

We need your continued support to push for bilateral negotiations by watching and circulating this important video with your communities, families and friends to remind the Palestinian Authority that a unilateral path won’t lead to peace. Peace needs two partners: Israelis and Palestinians.

In order to achieve this, both parties need to sit down, together, at the negotiating table and resume direct discussions, not through a unilateral bid as the Palestinians put forth at the UN. This is the message we are sending with the Israel Action Network’s video, “Peace Needs Partners.”

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It’s the same message submitted by the Quartet, comprised of the United States, European Union, Russia and the UN Secretary General, and it’s the sentiment echoed by you, over 105,000 collective voices calling for a return to the negotiating table without preconditions.

Our petition is a landmark achievement but we’re convinced that with your support, we can go even higher than 105,000. We will continue to take signatures up until the U.N. General Assembly votes on the Palestinians’ request for statehood, which is a date still to be determined. It is critical to raise our voice and remind world leaders that UDI only serves to further derail the peace process.