The Presbyterian Church USA has been accused of being influenced by and aligning with the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement and of taking action that is anti-Israel and pro-Palestine. This is simply not true. Most commissioners that I talked to had never heard of BDS. None that I talked to had read “Zionism Unsettled” and found verbal summaries of it to be disgusting. The PCUSA has long been a supporter of Israel and will continue to be. I am deeply sorry the action has been misunderstood, misinterpreted and has caused pain for our Jewish friends. Speaking for the vast majority of Presbyterians at the General Assembly, I can clearly say there was no malice intended. We too seek peace, justice and reconciliation.
This is a summary of what the General Assembly 2014 actually did (for more detail read: PCUSA Divestment):
The 2014 PCUSA General Assembly APPROVED a resolution saying that the radical study guide “Zionism Unsettled” did not represent the views of the PCUSA. It was written and published by a radical fringe group within the denomination. Most all religious groups – including Jews and Muslims – have radical fringe groups whose views different widely from the majority.
We APPROVED a resolution that acknowledged and confessed our own complicity in both the historic and current suffering of Israeli and Palestinian yearning for justice and reconciliation.
We REAFFIRMED Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign nation.
We DECLARED our commitment to a negotiated two-state solution (two states for two peoples) in which a secure and universally recognized State of Israel lives alongside a free, viable, and secure state for the Palestinian people.
We voted to REJECT any proposed DIVESTMENT and economic SANCTIONS against the state of Israel.
In accord with our church’s decades-long socially responsible investment (SRI) history, we did vote to sell off our stock in three AMERICAN companies until we are fully satisfied that product sales and services by these companies are no longer in conflict with our church investment policy.
To be clear, we amended this action to add: “This action on divestment does not mean an alignment with the overall strategy is not to be construed or represented by any organization of the PC(USA) as divestment from the State of Israel, or an alignment with or endorsement of the global BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) movement.”
We voted to encourage Presbyterians to travel to the Holy Land.
We strongly affirmed the General Assembly (2014) does NOT endorse BOYCOTTS of Israeli or Palestinian products.
And we agreed to urge all church institutions to give consideration to INVESTMENT in Israel-Palestine that advance peace.