Jewish Groups Slam Presbyterian Church (USA) After Anti-Israel Resolution
Jewish human rights groups assailed the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) for voting on Friday to divest from American companies doing business in Israel.
“We are witness today to an ugly spectacle of righteous hypocrisy, as an American church punishes the sole Middle East democracy for the sin of safeguarding its security while some of its Palestinian neighbors pass out sweets to celebrate the abduction of Israeli teenagers,” said Simon Wiesenthal Center Associate Dean Rabbi Abraham Cooper.
“We are shocked beyond words. With the crimes against humanity occurring in Syria and Iraq, with the Middle East in chaos, with African Christians regularly selected by terrorists for murder because of their faith, PCUSA chooses to flex its moral muscles by aiding and abetting those pledged to do away with the Jewish State,” Rabbi Cooper added.
The PCUSA General Assembly’s vote specifically targeted three American companies: Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett Packard. The resolution was approved by a 310-303 margin.
Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the Wiesenthal Center’s director of interfaith affairs, said he was not surprised by the vote’s outcome. He explained that Church leadership only allowed “anti-Israel voices” to give extended testimony during committee hearings while the pro-Israel Presbyterian Friends of Middle East Peace were told to keep their remarks to 90-second statements with no questions from committee members. ”
This was what we expected,” he said of the resolution.
Adlerstein rebuked the Church for its “unequivocal hostility” to Jews and Israel and said it “continues to tolerate overt anti-Semitism on its website without even bothering to dissent.”
“Presbyterians have reverted to the pre-Holocaust stance of an adversarial relationship with the Jewish community. Jews should stop and reflect on who their friends are – and who are not,” Rabbi Adlerstein concluded.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said in a press release that it was “greatly disappointed” in the Church’s decision. ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs, Rabbi David Sandmel, called the vote “out of step with the views of the majority of Presbyterians in the pews at the community level.”
ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman added that the resolution “sends a painful message to American Jews and threatens the long-standing relationship between the Jewish community and the national Presbyterian Church with whom we have worked closely on many issues of mutual concern.”
“Over the past 10 years, PCUSA leaders have fomented an atmosphere of open hostility to Israel within the church, promoted a one-sided presentation of the complex realities of the Middle East, and permitted the presentation of a grossly distorted image of the views of the Jewish community,” Foxman said.
Jewish rights group B’nai B’rith International said by voting for divestment, PCUSA has become an active participant in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, a change in stance from the previous General Assembly in which a set of divestment proposals were narrowly defeated.
The advocacy group said that, contrary to what partisan campaigners say, it is not possible to single out companies doing business with Israel for divestment and not be in the “BDS orbit.”
“As a humanitarian organization that has invested tremendous hope and extensive efforts worldwide in building Christian-Jewish friendship for 170 years, we remain confident that such an approach does not reflect the values and perspectives of the vast majority of American Christians,” B’nai B’rith said in a statement.
Earlier this year, PCUSA was criticized for its distribution of Zionism Unsettled, an anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish publication created by the foremost activists in the church’s Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN), a political advocacy group.