Daily Israel Report

Anti-Semitism in Presbyterian Church, Again

The Presbyterian Church has a long history of engaging in anti-Semitic activities; this time, it is boycotting Israeli companies.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 2/19/2012, 1:53 PM

A panel within the U.S. Presbyterian Church passed a resolution on Friday calling for voting on divestment in multi-national companies that profit from alleged non-peaceful activities in “Israel-Palestine,” the Christian Post reported.

The General Assembly Mission Council recommended that the church's U.S. General Assembly pull out investments in three companies – Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard – “until they have ceased profiting from non-peaceful activities in Israel-Palestine.”

The council alleged that these companies “had participated in the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, constructed the ‘security barrier’ between Israel and Palestinian territory, and destroyed Palestinian homes, roads and fields to make way for the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank – acts that are illegal under international law,” the Christian Post reported.

"We have run out of hope that these companies are willing to change their corporate practices [in Israel-Palestine]," said the Rev. Brian Ellison, a Kansas City pastor and chair of the denomination's Mission Responsibility.

Ellison claimed that the resolution should not be seen as a boycott and that the Presbyterian Church does “hold stock in many companies that do business in Israel and the West Bank.” He said that “the sole purpose” of the resolution is to promote “a just peace.”

A few Council members opposed the decision, claiming that the divestment is "ineffective and unproductive and actually goes against peacemaking."

The Presbyterian Church has a long history of engaging in anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic activities. On February 6, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) issued a press release condemning the church’s Israel Palestine Mission Network’s (IPMN-PCUSA) stating that the, “IPMN-PCUSA Facebook page includes a cartoon of President Obama wearing weighty Jewish star earrings to suggest Jewish control of the American leaders, a common theme on the site.

"The IPMN-PCUSA has posted articles that accuse Jews of controlling Hollywood, the media, and American politics - and blaming Israel for the American housing and economic crisis. IPMN-PCUSA's communications chair also posted her opposition to a two-state solution and the existence of a Jewish state, something which she terms ‘anachronistic.’ The same IPMN leader, Noushin Framke, clicked ‘like’ on the Obama cartoon with the Jewish stars and another post that Hamas should keep Israeli Gilad Shalit hostage until Palestinians are granted a right of return.”

Jewish groups expressed dismay at the council’s recommendation. Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said he was "profoundly disappointed." "Neither peace nor the long friendship between our two communities is served by this action," he said in a statement.

"It is tragic that national Presbyterian leaders are making the delegitimization of Israel a public witness of their church. Once again, we turn to our friends who will gather in the church's General Assembly this summer to find a path towards peace rather than dissension. The proposed resolution drives a wedge between our two communities, frustrates interfaith cooperation and undermines our joint efforts to pursue social justice," Gutow said.