When the 221st General Assembly (2014) passed the Overture “On Supporting Middle East Peacemaking” by 310 to 303, a shockwave hit the Jewish community. The commissioners passed this Overture in full knowledge of the consequences. For, prior to the vote:
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest branch of Judaism in North America, spoke before the General Assembly Thursday, and warned that a divestment vote would be taken as a sign that the church has aligned itself with those in the “Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions” movement who vilify Israel and even question its right to exist.
“It would be an attack on the Jewish community and religion,” especially in the wake of the publication of “Zionism Unsettled,” Jacobs said. “I don’t want the commissioners (assembly delegates) to think they can vote for divestment and be part of the global BDS movement and think that they can still stand with us.” (RNS)
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami also forewarned the GA against taking this action.
I would say to the Church’s leaders as they again consider joining forces with the BDS Movement, that the Movement’s rhetoric and tactics are not only a distraction, but a genuine threat to conflict resolution. Even the limited divestment approach under consideration by PCUSA falls under the rubric of larger BDS efforts to place blame entirely on one side of the conflict. Such an approach encourages not reconciliation, but polarization. Further, too many in and around the BDS movement refuse to acknowledge either the legitimacy of Israel or the right of the Jewish people as well as the Palestinian people to a state.
The reaction after the vote was immediate and harsh.
But Rabbi Noam Marans, director of interreligious relations at the American Jewish Committee, said in a statement after the vote: “This is an affront to all who are committed to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The PCUSA decision is celebrated by those who believe they are one step closer to a Jew-free Middle East.” (RNS)
Other commentators have pointed the blatant prejudice and sickening hypocrisy of this action.
… the PCUSA’s deliberations ignored the attempts to destroy Israel in 1948, 1967 and 1973. It ignores the language of the Hamas charter, and the fact that Hamas has now been welcomed into the Palestinian Authority’s government. Mostly it ignores the endless terror attacks, and the war crime of indiscriminate use of rockets against civilians, the language of genocide routinely employed by the mullahs in Tehran whose Hezbollah puppets occupy south Lebanon.
This result is a moral catastrophe for the PCUSA. It represents the victory of willful ignorance and inhumane ideology over the Christian virtues of prudence, temperance and justice. Just what is going on and why in the PCUSA?