The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted last week to divest from three American companies that do business with Israel. The reason given by the assembly’s Stated Clerk Rev. Gradyne Parsons was, “We as a church cannot profit from the destruction of [Palestinian] homes and lives.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) vote to divest from three companies that do business with Israeli West Bank security forces. He also said the vote to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard was misguided because Israel protects civil rights in a region with rising tides of Islamist extremism.
“The only place where you have freedom, tolerance, protection of minorities, protection of gays, of Christians and all other faiths is Israel,” he said.
Netanyahu suggested that American Presbyterian leaders “take a plane, come here and let’s arrange a bus tour in the region. Let them go to Libya, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq.”
With the latest divestment decision the Presbyterian Church reach a new low point in its history. Hopefully, this will be a sign for many of its congregants to leave the Church and I say that with the deepest regret. I cannot otherwise, because to be silent while the sheep are led astray made me as guilty as the shepherds who follow their skewed dogmatic ideology.
In fact, the Presbyterian Church never parted from its anti-Israel stanch. On April 3-5, 1933 at a German Presbyterian convention in Berlin its slogan was “The state of Adolf Hitler appeals to the church and the church has to hear his call.” Thus, the latest decision should not be a surprise.
Christians of all stripes should, instead, inform themselves about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and reach their own conclusions based on reason, not theology. Intellectual honesty will lead any inquirer to admit at the very least that the issues are complicated.
“In no way is this a reflection of our lack of love” for the Jewish people.
So assured Heath Rada, the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s moderator, at their annual Assembly on Friday, June 20, 2014, moments after his church voted to divest from three companies. Their crime: selling products to Israel security forces and Jews living in Judea and Samaria.
Coming weeks after Hamas terrorists abducted three Israeli teenagers – one an American citizen – it seemed a cynical double standard not to debate the reality of terror with which Israelis live on a daily basis. Amid the debate about Israel, no resolution was called for to demand the teens’ safe return. No calls were made for divestment of Arab regimes with horrendous human rights record. The delegates did not suggest using their moral weight to persuade Hamas to release the teens. They did not address political situations elsewhere in the world, nor mention human rights abuses around the globe. Their focus remained firmly, narrowly, on Israel and its alleged crimes.
One group that has been working towards divestment is the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The group, which features a segment called “Boycott 101” on its website, urging the boycott of various Israeli goods, issued a study guide for Presbyterian congregations earlier this year called “Zionism Unsettled”. Focusing entirely on alleged Israeli crimes and ignoring any context or history that has led to current political realities, the study guide paints Zionism as evil and irrational. It’s been criticized by Jewish groups as grossly simplistic, unfair, and one-sided. The Anti-Defamation League called “Zionism Unsettled” perhaps the “most anti-Semitic document to come out of a mainline American church in recent memory.”
Unless the Presbyterian Church is adherents of Replacement Theology, they need to take heed of what is written in the Bible about Israel and I only want to mention one portion of scripture:
“God brought them out of Egypt; they have the strength of a wild ox. They devour hostile nations and break their bones in pieces; with their arrows they pierce them. Like a lion they crouch and lie down, like a lioness – who dares to rouse them? May those who bless you be blessed and those who curse you be cursed!” – Numbers 24:8-9.