Presbyterians divest, Dutch regret their divestment

Antisemitism from the Presbyterian Church of the USA (PCUSA)

Antisemitism from the Presbyterian Church of the USA (PCUSA)

The horribly biased Presbyterian Church of the USA (PCUSA) has voted to divest from companies that do business with Israel, declaring that “we cannot profit from the destruction of homes and lives”.

Leaders of the Presbyterian Church USA explained their decision Friday to divest from three American companies who they said profit from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, with the general assembly’s Stated Clerk Rev. Gradye Parsons saying, “We as a church cannot profit from the destruction of homes and lives.”

He added that “We continue to invest in many businesses involved in peaceful pursuits in Israel,” Reuters reported.

The church’s General Assembly voted by a razor-thin margin — 310-303 — to sell stock in Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions, companies which supporters of the resolution said were involved in demolition and surveillance activities against Palestinians in the West Bank. Two years ago, the General Assembly rejected a similar divestment proposal by two votes.

Heath Rada, moderator for the church meeting, said immediately after the vote that “in no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish brothers and sisters.”

Ouch. Love like that I can do without.

Presbyterians who advocated for divestment have insisted that their action is not part of the broader BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) but both proponents and opponents of BDS are likely to see it as a further boost to the movement which has recently gained some momentum in the US.

“We are already losing control of our message. Divestment will not end the conflict and bring peace. Divestment will bring dissension,” said resolution opponent Frank Allen, of the Presbytery of Central Florida.

Despite their professed love for their “Jewish brothers” the PCUSA’s resolution has dealt a huge blow to their relations with the Jewish community:

Others said that the resolution, coupled with an anti-Zionist tract released earlier this year by a church committee, allied the church with groups that seek to dismantle Israel.

The “decision will undoubtedly have a devastating impact on relations between mainstream Jewish groups and the national Presbyterian Church (USA),” Rabbi Steve Gutow, the president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the umbrella body for Jewish public policy groups, said in a statement.

“We hold the leadership of the PCUSA accountable for squandering countless opportunities, not only to act responsibly to advance prospects for Middle East peace, but also to isolate and repudiate the radical, prejudiced voices in their denomination,” Gutow said.

Other groups anticipating a rift included the Anti-Defamation League, the Union for Reform Judaism, Stand With Us and the American Jewish Committee. Many of the groups sent delegations to the general assembly.

Only one Jewish group was happy:

Jewish Voice for Peace, which campaigned at the General Assembly for divestment, welcomed the vote

No surprise there. Just a short quote from the Israellycool post:

JVP works closely with the movement to “Boycott, Divest, and Sanction” Israel.  Alan Dershowitz has explained very well why this movement, to use his words, “is immoral and hinders peace.” T

PCUSA of course has “form” in their anti-Israel activism, as inferred above regarding the “anti-Zionist tract” which was published earlier this year. This tract is a disgusting 74-page piece of antisemitic invective entitled “Zionism unsettled”, about which CAMERA, in a thorough debunking, says:

Zionism Unsettled promotes three big lies.

The first big lie is that Zionism as a political movement and Israel as a country have been sheltered from debate, particularly in mainline churches in the U.S.

The second big lie is that Jews were well treated in Muslim countries in the Middle East until the ideology of Zionism arrived in the region in the 19th century.

The third big lie is that Israel is singularly responsible for the suffering of the Palestinians. “Zionism is the problem,” the text states on page 56.

The Elder of Ziyon adds much more background to the PCUSA which is worthwhile reading, in 3 recent posts: In a separate resolution, PCUSA uses the “map that lies“; PCUSA considered replacing the word “Israel” in prayers, but this was a resolution too far and too inflammatory even for them; and a resolution calling on the ADL to stop fighting antisemitism. I had a look at this last resolution and the terrible lies in it about racism in Israel are too sickening to stomach. How anyone outside of Der Stuermer or the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (those Elders not “our” Elder) could write such slanderous accusations without being taken to court is beyond me.

Returning to the divestment resolution, on principle I would agree with the sentiment that one shouldn’t profit from the destruction of homes and lives. So are we going to hear from the oh-so-noble PCUSA  any time soon about divestment from Gaza? After all there has been constant rocket-fire onto Israel from those poor deprived Gaza terrorists, including a rocket which damaged an Israeli home (since PCUSA specifically mention damaged homes):

Wednesday June 18

Five rockets fired at Israel

  • Two hit the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council

  • A house damaged by the explosion

This is not to mention all the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who are traumatised by the constant rocket-fire and the necessity of having to be within 15 seconds to one minute away from a bomb shelter.  And I haven’t even mentioned the escalating missile threat in the north, in which a teenager lost his life yesterday.

Of course, on thinking about it, there would be nothing for the PCUSA to divest from in Gaza, since the only thing they produce with any regularity is rockets; their only export is terror; their only investment is incitement of the younger generation to hatred of Jews, Israel and the West, not necessarily in that order.

Perhaps they should learn a lesson from the Dutch pension fund PGGM who are regretting their decision to divest from 5 major Israel banks:

Dutch pension fund giant PGGM now regrets a decision in January to divest from five Israeli banks, according to Dutch fund managers cited by the Financial Times, as part of a wider review of how pension funds and fund managers now view the campaign to divest from Israeli companies, or international companies active in the West Bank. As recently as March, PGGM’s parent company, PFZW, defended the decision to divest from Israeli banks, but now the fund is said to regret the move….

The FT said: “A Dutch fund manager, who asked to remain anonymous, believes several senior executives at PGGM now regret excluding the five Israeli banks, after the pension fund unwittingly became the champion for the divestment movement.”

The FT said that both ABP, the biggest Dutch pension fund, and Nordea Investment Management, the Nordic fund house, have since announced that they will remain invested in the Israeli banks, contradicting PGGM’s stance. Norway’s government pension fund also said this month that it has over a $1 billion invested in Israeli equities.

The Israeli banks that were cut by PGGM are Bank Hapoalim, Bank Leumi, First International Bank of Israel, Israel Discount Bank and Mizrahi Tefahot Bank.

In March, the parent group’s spokeswoman, Ellen Habermehl, told the FT: “The commotion caused by our decision has led us to carefully evaluate our decision-making process on this matter. We have concluded that there is no reason to reconsider this decision.”

But the FT also said that groups, such as Nordea, who will remain invested in Israel also have completed their own analysis and visits and came out with the opposite conclusion:

Nordea spokesman Sasja Beslik told the FT: “Based on the analysis and dialogues we have conducted on the ground with companies and other stakeholders, we have at present not identified any companies currently breaching our investment policy regarding environmental social and governance issues. As usual, we are in continued dialogue with a number of companies in the region.”

The financial newspaper cast the disparate viewpoints as “the latest sign of a growing divide in the institutional investor community over how to apply socially responsible investment principles to companies based in Israel.”

Despite the schadenfreude ensuing from the PGGM’s discomfort, that last sentence irritated the hell out of me. Why does the institutional investor community feel it so necessary to “apply socially responsible investment principles to companies based in Israel”? Do they apply such socially responsible principles to investments in, say, China? Saudi Arabia? Russia?

It’s possible that they do, but somehow one never hears of discussions about divestment from those countries.

We also haven’t touched upon the persecution of Christians throughout the Muslim world. It seems that Christian love is intended only for the right kind of person and the right kind of religion – that being neither Judaism nor, perversely, Christianity.

When Israel is the only country singled out, that is called antisemitism. The anti-Semites can howl all they want about “being silenced” or being falsely accused, but they have to face up to their own character. A commenter on CifWatch by the name “Cityca” once said:

It’s really simple – if you plan to boycott Israel, what other state will you be boycotting? If there is no other state you plan to boycott, then I suggest that your decision to boycott only the sole Jewish state has to be seen as suspect.

So when you accuse me or my friends of calling you antisemitic, why, when there are so many appalling regimes in the world that are doing such brutal deeds to their own people, have you decided to boycott only Israel?

On that basis and for that reason, I didn’t single you out as antisemitic – you did.

That is as perfect a description of anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism or anti-settlements as I have ever found.

UPDATE: After publishing I came upon this blog purely by chance and it illustrates beautifully but conversely the point I was just making: “Yes, I support Israel, or why I buy Israeli carrots“. Read it all. I’m sure it will make you smile.

UPDATE 2: cba in the comments below links to a great video of a brilliant smackdown of the PCUSA on CNN of all places! Really worth a look.

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13 Responses to Presbyterians divest, Dutch regret their divestment

  1. ealha3 says:

    One reason Israel and Jews lose the Public Relations war is that it is defensive instead of offensive. It reacts to negative news rather than creating positive news – e.g., why isn’t there a campaign to recognize companies and organizations that support Israel and denounce the BDS movement. Are there any? If we were to rely on the PR of Israel, we’d never know of them and only of those that either have denounced Israel or are in the process of considering it. How dumb is that? How difficult would it be to write to the leadership of the thousands of companies – world wide and get their support of Israel and publish their names and give them the added commercial benefit as well as the moral benefit to Israel and Jews? It would also be interesting to do the same on behalf of Hamas and the PLA just to see how many would reject them publicly….!!!!

    • anneinpt says:

      I like your idea in principle but I don’t know if it would work in practice on any wide scale. I can see lots fo big companies happy to do business with Israel, or with 3rd parties who do business with Israel e.g. Caterpillar and HP, but wouldn’t necessarily want to go public with it in a PR campaign because of the fear of an Arab boycott or worse.

      • ealha3 says:

        Fear of Arab reprisals is what empowers Arabs our silence is a submission to their evil goals. The economic power of Arabs is far more dependent on western resources than on their own and if challenged, they have much more to lose from western reprisals. Each company acting on its own requires greater courage and moral integrity than if they were a community of like-minded believers and supporters of Judean/Christian principles. Israel and the many, many other pro-Israeli organizations should be fostering programs designed to establish and promote such communities rather that remain silent for fear of Arab reprisals. Explaining our defensive position does not curtail its damage. It is long overdue for the finding of an alternative – even if the cost is to expend some level of moral courage and integrity. Are we ready to admit that we have none?

        • Brian Goldfarb says:

          dear ealha3, but that’s what lots of us are doing (just like Anne, here) whenever we get the chance on any website we visit (allowing that we’re not about to visit some of the really nasty ones). I suspect that the Presbyterians are one that is susceptible to genuine debate (or at least they will pretend to open to debate) and the “committed to BDS” are not the only ones reading the exchanges there.

          One such site that used to afford me hours of fun was engageonline, sadly now semi-moribund. Those running it are all in full-time employment, but still, given that they moderated all comments, there is so much stuff out there…

          • ealha3 says:

            As much as I appreciate the blogs that are taking a defiant position against the irrational and anti-Semitic, the absence, silence and abdication of responsibility to defend Israel by an affirmative showing of private and governmental organizations supporting this democracy like AIPAC, ADL, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Union for Reform Judaism, Stand With Us, the American Jewish Council as well as governments like Israel, Canada, Australia, and, dare I say The United States of America. Where is their list? Where is their argument? Where are their demonstrations? Where are their advertisements, editorials, TV and radio interviews; their social media programs – their anti-BDS programs? Am I the only one aware of this incompetence?

  2. cba says:

    If you haven’t already seen this, you must watch the PCUSA Moderator getting a good smack-down in an interview on CNN (!!) http://edition.cnn.com/video/data/2.0/video/bestoftv/2014/06/22/exp-pcusa-israel.cnn.html

    • ealha3 says:

      Highly enlightening!! Thank you for this information. It would have been interesting if someone who supported the divestment resolution had appeared to more clearly understand their misguided information, what it is and how they got it. Destroying homes of terrorists may be questionable but still defensible. But how does one defend challenging a blockade of a terrorist nation publicly dedicated to the destruction of Israel, the genocide of Jews, current indiscriminate bombing of innocent civilians and intolerance of anything that is not Islamic? A blockade, by the way, that nevertheless allows tons of humanitarian supplies daily to an enemy committed to its destruction! What have we done to justify, and how can they explain this kind of blatant anti-Semtism?

    • anneinpt says:

      Brilliant! Thanks! I’m updating the post so that people will watch the video.

  3. cba says:

    Wow! I just read the link at your UPDATE and… just Wow. Fantastic.

  4. Reality says:

    I think that the minute anyoneor institution divests from Israel we should demand that they remove chips from their cellphones, return various medications they may be taking,cancel vrious medical appointments,return their computers to the stores , stop watering their crops, etc.. as they all use Israeli made products. When they’ve done this then their investments will be divested ! I want to see (Iwill volunteer personally for the job!) that their stuff has arrived in Israel.We should make that a condition of anyone investing here that if they decide to divest we want their stuff to recycle!!

    • anneinpt says:

      The thing is that they’re not divesting from Israel itself. They’re doing what the Arabs did – instituting a 3rd party boycott. They’re divesting from American companies who do business with Israel. It reeks of the Nazi boycotts of the 1930’s.

      Otherwise your idea appeals to me for sure. I wonder if they’ll throw out their HP printers and laptops. Or allow their homes to be built with Caterpillar bulldozers – which by the way are used by Hamas too to destroy houses of their opponents.

  5. Reality says:

    After watching the divestment clip (they even think we should be allowed to eixts here! how nice!) its certainly time to introduce visas to Israel ,that certain people won’t be given their visas to enter our wonderful land.What’s wrong with this idea? If I want to visit the States I need a visa. It should be a 2 way street. I also would love to know if Israel invests in companies abroad. We too can divest.

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