(IHC News, 30 May 2006)
Leaders of the Presbyterian Church that have been on a fact-finding mission to determine whether an $8 billion dollar divestment campaign in Israel should be approved, have now declared the initiative a mistake.
A vote on the issue, which was proposed at its 2004 biannual conference is scheduled for mid-June when the conference meets again in Birmingham Alabama.
Though it sought to create “selective divestment” with companies whose products Israel uses in its war on terrorism in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, many Presbyterian leaders and their followers were very critical of the idea and tried to have it removed from the agenda.
The recent mission’s participants are now beginning to agree.
NCLCI Executive Committee member and Pastor of the Presbyterian Church of the Roses in Santa Rosa, California, Dr. John H. Cushman says that though divestment was thought to be a productive tool in helping to achieve a just solution to the Middle East conflict, the church was wrong.
He declared “it is now time to put aside this one-sided, negative and counter-productive policy that threatens to cause great harm to both Israel and the Palestinians while creating unnecessary polarization within our own denomination.”
Meanwhile, Presbyterians in the US and leaders in the Jewish community are hoping talks within the church over a more balanced approach to the issue, gains strength in the next few weeks.
While the idea of divestment is reportedly not being completely taken off the table, David Elcott, director of inter-religious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, told Reuters on Thursday, 25 May 2006 that he sees the church “working to moderate its stance.”
Though withdrawing the divestment approach altogether would be the best scenario, Elcott added that his sources say a compromise proposal is being drafted and the Jewish community and the State of Israel would welcome it.
Divestment campaigns against Israel are usually one-sided and do not help the pursuit of peace.
They generally call into question Israeli actions towards the Palestinians and Israel’s war on terror but do not qualify Palestinian violence towards Israel as a source of instability and lack of security for the Jewish state.
Source: Original text contributed by the author, IHC reporter.
Copyright © Israel Hasbara Committee, 30 May 2006.
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