In an attempt to justify what some have called an anti-Semitic move, the Presbyterian Church USA will hold a three-day conference to explain to denomination leaders why action was taken to divest from companies doing business with Israel.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the denomination’s General Assembly voted 431-62 in July to divest from Israel. The PCUSA is believed to be the largest organization or institution to join the divestment campaign against the Jewish state. It was the first Christian denomination to do so.
The move set the stage for the church to divest itself from companies that receive $1 million dollars or more in profits per year from investments in Israel or have invested $1 million dollars or more in Israel. Apartheid South Africa is the only other nation the denomination has similarly sanctioned.
Scheduled for Feb. 10-12 in Louisville, Ky., home to the denomination’s administrative offices, the meeting is meant to let synods and presbyteries “know what we did and why we did it,” Marthame Sanders, missionary-in-residence at the PCUSA offices said in a statement.
The meeting is expected to draw 200 participants representing every synod and presbytery in the nation.
The church’s statement characterized last summer’s move as part of a “process of ‘phased selective divestment’ in companies supporting the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and in corporations profiting from either Israeli or Palestinian violence.”
Said the denomination: “The action is also directed at engaging corporations or financial institutions who benefit from the ongoing creation and expansion of Israeli settlements on the West Bank.”
The statement confirmed that Jewish leaders were especially upset with the General Assembly’s action.
“Presbyteries and synods … have been getting asked a lot of questions about this,” stated Sanders, saying the middle governing bodies needed and wanted information about what the assembly did “to be equipped to have a debate” on the subject.
Included on the meeting’s agenda is a discussion of Presbyterian theology, “particularly related to Christian Zionism,” the statement said.
Subsequent to the church’s July action, a petition drive began to protest the move.
The petition says the church’s resolution is “anti-Semitic because NO OTHER nation is being singled for divestment, not even those whose violations of human rights are truly egregious.”
“Only the moral blindness of Jew-hatred could lead the church to compare Israel’s multi-racial democracy to apartheid South Africa,” the petition says. “Only anti-Semitism could lead the church to condemn democratic Israel, while not voting divestment from Saudi Arabia, where women have virtually no rights and non-Muslims are not even permitted to enter the country without special permission, from Sudan, where race-based genocide is occurring even as we speak, from Iran, where Bahai are murdered for their faith, or from the many other countries where human rights are violated as a matter of routine.”
During the same time period this month, a PCUSA seminary in Austin, Texas, is hosting an event entitled, “To Loose the Chains of Injustice: American Churches and the Palestinians.” The denomination is one of the participating churches in the Feb. 11-12 meeting.
“The focus of this conference is on the work of the churches for a just peace in Israel-Palestine,” states a flyer advertising the confab.
A group of Presbyterian elders and ministers are circulating a petition among the PCUSA membership to call the General Assembly back into special session to rescind the Israel Divestment Resolution.