Presbyterians Fail Morality Test

If any divestment should be taking place by the Presbyterians, it morally must take a stand against the Arab and Islamist perpetrators rather than against their victims.

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Gary Fitleberg

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The World Council of Churches, the main global body uniting non-Catholic Christians, encouraged members to sell off investments in companies profiting from Israeli control of the Biblically ancient, and modernly disputed, territories of Gaza, Judea and Samaria, which belong to the Children of Israel, given to them as an eternal covenant and gift from G-d.

The "Holy Land" or "Promised Land", or the modern State of Israel, belongs to the Jewish people Biblically, historically, morally, legally, politically and rightfully.

The Council's Central Committee, meeting in Geneva, praised the United States' Presbyterian Church for examining the possibility of divestment in Israel, similar to the financial boycott it used against the apartheid regime in South Africa two decades ago.

Comparing the apartheid regime to the only beacon of democracy and freedom in the bad neighborhood of Arab and Islamist corrupt dictatorships, human rights violators, ruthless and repressive regimes, state supporters of terrorism, and tyrannies, is quite a stretch. Like mixing apples and oranges.

If any divestment should be taking place by the Presbyterians, it morally must take a stand against the Arab and Islamist perpetrators rather than against their victims. In fact, Arabs enjoy much more rights in Israel than in any of the Arab nations. Arab-Israelis are citizens. Israel has Arab-Israelis in its Knesset (parliament) and sitting on the Supreme Court. Name one Arab-ruled nation that has such an arrangement for its ethnic minorities anywhere.

The Presbyterian threat, which echoes divestment debates at some US universities, has set off a wave of dissent in the church and angered American Jewish leaders.

But the Central Committee, in a document approved at a week-long meeting at WCC headquarters recently, highlighted the divestment push and encouraged other member churches to consider doing the same.

"This action is commendable in both method and manner, uses criteria rooted in faith and calls members to do the 'things that make for peace'," it declared, quoting Luke's Gospel.

Apparently, the Presbyterians don't read the precursor, the Bible sometimes called "the Old Testament" by the various denominations of the Christian faith. The Torah, the Five Books of Moses or Pentateuch, makes it very clear who are the rightful owners of the "Holy Land", given by G-d to the Children of Israel in a covenant that can never be broken.

"Economic pressure, appropriately and openly applied, is one such means of action."

It was not clear how many of the WCC's 342 Protestant and Orthodox member churches would heed the call.

"Multinational corporations have been involved in the demolition of Palestinian homes," the WCC statement said.

The Children of Israel were also called Hebrews, Israelites, Jews (from the name of the tribe of Judah and the area of Judea, in the recently renamed "West Bank"), and even "Palestinians", by their conquerors. In fact, Jesus was a "Palestinian" long before any Arabs were ever present in this Holy Land.

Multinational corporations were also involved in "the construction of settlements and settlement infrastructure on occupied territory, in building a dividing wall which is also largely inside occupied territory, and in other violations of international law."

The only time these territories were "occupied" was when the Arab nations launched a jointly coordinated attack against Israel, bent on its annihilation, on "pushing the Jews into the sea," forever. The "occupation" of Gaza by Egypt and of Judea and Samaria by Jordan lasted nineteen years, from 1948 until 1967, when Israel re-conquered its own land in yet another aggressive war in which the only, little, Jewish nation-state was forced to defend itself. According to international law, when a state attacks another and loses land, the lost territory belongs legally to the aggrieved party.

The Presbyterian Church's General Assembly called last July for a "phased, selective divestment" beginning no earlier than July 2006. A dissident group is asking church leaders to place a moratorium on the project as early as next month. No companies have been singled out, but a report naming the most likely targets is due out in August. Human rights groups have urged Caterpillar Inc., the world's largest maker of construction machinery, to stop selling bulldozers to the Israel Defense Forces, saying they are used to wreck Arab homes in these territories.

"[The occupation] is at the center of the cycle of violence in the region - whether it is suicide bombings or the displacement caused by the occupation... and impedes a peaceful solution to that conflict," the committee now selecting possible divestment targets said recently.

It is unclear how much of the church's $8 billion portfolio - investments covering pensions and other holdings controlled by its leadership - might be at issue.

Jewish groups are clearly upset. "Instead of talking about peace we're talking about Presbyterians," David Elcott, director of inter-religious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, said this month. "They have deflected conversation in a very negative way."

The 2.5 million-strong church, the ninth largest in the United States, represents most US Presbyterians.


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