A more Israel friendly caucus within the PCUSA called “Presbyterians for Middle East Peace” sagely noted the divestment proposal will “surely offend and hurt our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community with whom we are in close dialogue.” And it accurately faulted a “small group of activists within the PCUSA that has relentlessly sought to punish Israel” by alleging that “Israel is solely to blame for the current conflict.” It predicted the church’s governing General Assembly next year will reject this latest call for anti-Israel divestment. But the anti-Israel zealots in the PCUSA are not typically deterred by routine rejection from governing church bodies. Their faith in the anti-Israel cause has almost no boundaries. The United Methodist Church’s governing body rejected anti-Israel divestment by wide margins in 2008. But that denomination’s Capitol Hill based General Board of Church and Society will again lobby for divestment next year when the convention meets again. Reading off the same page as all the major anti-Israel groups, religious and secular, they also want selectively to divest from Hewlett-Packard, Caterpillar, and Motorola. These firms are apparently the symbolic sinister trinity behind Zionist aggression, according to anti-Israel activists.
The Jewish Council of Public Affairs (JCPA) was key to building Jewish-Christian coalitions that defeated earlier anti-Israel divestment proposals within Mainline Protestant denominations. JCPA’s president denounced the latest PCUSA initiative as an “invitation to more conflict and more division, without the prospect for fostering peace in a region that so desperately needs it.” He warned it also “promotes the de-legitimization of Israel.” Another JCPA official reasonably suggested “divestment should be saved for the most intractable and odious regimes, when all other means have failed; not for liberal democracies committed to an ongoing peace process.” Anti-Israel divestment, he said, doesn’t promote peace but instead feeds “resentment” and builds a “false impression that Israel is solely to blame.” Still another JCPA spokesman pronounced that the PCUSA‘s implementing anti-Israel divestment could potentially have “horrific” impact on church relations with Jewish groups.
Probably the PCUSA and The United Methodist Church once again next year at their conventions will again reject anti-Israel divestment. But their self-appointed elites will continue to exploit these denominations for ongoing anti-Israel campaigns. Their identification of Israel as the primary culprit for Middle East strife reflects a wider cluelessness about the world, for which over 40 years of plunging membership are but one predictable consequence. Most American Christians, including probably even most United Methodists and Presbyterians, understand that democratic Israel’s survival merits prayers, not sabotage.
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