Presbyterians’ Anti-Israel Bias
Crosses Line Into Anti-Semitism
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) criticized the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the largest Presbyterian group in the United States, for unfairly singling out Israel for condemnation and holding Israel to a double standard at the Church’s 220th General Assembly in Pittsburgh last week. The General Assembly voted to boycott “all Israeli products coming from the occupied Palestinian Territories.” The General Assembly considered two other anti-Israel measures which were voted down, but which should never have been under consideration in the first place: It voted against labeling Israeli policy toward the Palestinian Arabs as “apartheid.” And, by a very slim margin (a 333 to 331 vote), the General Assembly voted against a resolution calling for divestment from three companies that do business with Israel: Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s decision to boycott “all Israeli products coming from the occupied Palestinian Territories” will do nothing to help the Palestinian Arab people or to further the cause of peace in the Middle East. The wording of the resolution itself, which refers to boycotting products from the so-called “occupied Palestinian Territories” — demonstrates that the Church has given credence to the falsehood that the lack of peace in the Middle East is due to Israel’s so-called “occupation” of Palestinian land.
The truth is that the so-called “occupation” is not the impediment to peace. There were no “occupation” and no “settlements” from 1948 to 1968 – the Arabs controlled the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and Judea and Samaria during those years – and yet Arab nations fought three wars against Israel during that period and engaged in constant terrorism against Israeli Jews. Arab terrorism against Jews was a problem even before the State of Israel was created in 1948, and according to Arab terrorist groups like Hamas, the terrorism will continue until the Jewish State is completely destroyed.
The Presbyterian Church has failed to recognize the real obstacle to peace: The Palestinian Authority’s refusal to negotiate with Israel, its refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish State, and its promotion and incitement of terrorism, by glorifying terrorists as heroes, naming streets, schools, and public squares after them, and indoctrinating the Palestinian Arab people to hate Israel and Jews through their media, in their schools, and even at their summer camps for children.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s General Assembly made the right decision in voting against labeling Israeli policy toward the Palestinian Arabs as “apartheid.” But the very fact that the Church considered applying this label to Israel, of all nations, shows both ignorance about the meaning of apartheid and a hateful bias against Israel. The fact is that Israel is the only true democracy in the Middle East. Arabs are afforded the same rights and liberties as Jewish, Christian and all other citizens in the State, including membership in the Israeli Parliament and on the Supreme Court. If anything comes close to resembling the apartheid system in South Africa, it is the Arabs’ demand that all Jews be expelled from Judea and Samaria, areas that are historically Jewish.
The Presbyterian Church’s decision not to divest from three companies that do business in Israel – Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola – was the right one. But the fact that this divestment proposal was rejected by such a narrow majority speaks volumes about the views of many members of the Church and about the anti-Israel divestment decisions the Church may make in the future.
In considering the divestment proposal, the Church seemingly paid little attention to the reality that thousands of Israelis have been maimed and murdered as the result of Arab terrorism. They have been killed or injured sitting in cafes, shopping in stores, walking along the street, riding in cars and buses, and even in the privacy of their own homes. No country would – or should – stand for such inhumane and barbaric behavior perpetrated against its citizens.
Products of Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola have helped keep the Israeli people safe from terrorism. As Jonathan Tobin recently pointed out in Commentary magazine, “Motorola and Hewlett-Packard produce devices that help the Israel Defense Forces monitor security checkpoints for terrorist explosives and other dangers. Caterpillar vehicles help construct Israel’s defense barrier that keeps out suicide bombers as well as demolish illegal construction and structures that shield terrorist activities.” (http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2012/07/06/narrow-bds-defeat-nothing-to-celebrate-presbyterians-israel-divestment/)
By even considering divesting from these companies, the Presbyterian Church has shown little concern for the terrorism that Israel has faced and continues to face. The Church is sending the message that Israel, unlike other countries, does not have the right and indeed the responsibility to protect its people from terrorist groups and nations that would like to harm Israel and even see the Jewish State destroyed.
If the Presbyterian Church were truly concerned about human rights and freedoms, then Israel of all nations would not be its focus. Where are the Church’s proposals responding to the flagrant human rights abuses committed by China? Why is the Church failing to focus on and condemn countries like Syria and Sudan where the ethnic cleansing of Christians is a real danger? The Presbyterians’ singular focus on Israel shows a hateful bias against Israel that crosses the line into anti-Semitism.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein criticized the Presbyterian Church for its actions at its 220th General Assembly last week, stating: “The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s actions in unfairly singling out Israel and holding Israel to a double standard will foment anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel. These actions are an insult to the Jewish community. Sadly, the Presbyterian Church has a long history of hostility toward Israel. It’s thus no real surprise that the Church has shown such anti-Israel animus at its General Assembly. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) should retract the call for a boycott against Israeli companies and publicly apologize for the damage that the Church is causing to relations with the Jewish community.”