Sorry I haven’t been posting. In part it’s from being on vacation for two weeks, partly catching up from doing so, and partly getting ready to go to the EPC General Assembly in Knoxville. I’ll have more about the EPC soon, but there’s another Presbyterian denomination meeting this week, and that means there’s evil afoot.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) is meeting this week in Detroit–a brilliant metaphor for the state of the denomination, which is also being depopulated–and there are two primary issues that have captured the attention of liberal activists. One is the attempt to commit institutional, theological, and intellectual suicide by finishing the capitulation to the gay lobby. (More on that to come.) The other is the attempt by misguided liberals, Palestinian sympathizers, and organized anti-Semites in the Israel Palestine Mission Network (along with their outside allies in the political far left) to further demonize Israel. This latter move will have no effect in the real world–it’s hard to believe that Benjamin Netanyahu is laying awake at night wonderingwhat will the Presbyterians do?–but it does have an undoubted impact on relations between Jews and Christians.
So far, the General Assembly has not taken up the resolutions sent to them by the Middle East Issues committee, but that committee has completed its work. Among its products soon to be voted on:
•Resolution 04-01: “On Reviewing General Assembly Policy Regarding the Two-State Solution in Israel Palestine”
Anti-Israel activists have been fighting hard for this one. One of their fondest wishes is to reverse PCUSA support for the two-state solution, because they know that a unitary state in the Holy Land will mean Palestinian control and the mass expulsion of Jews. Passage of this one will be an indication that PCUSA has been essentially captured by the anti-Jew wing of Protestant liberalism.
•04-02: “On Divestment from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions”
These three companies (along with SodaStream, an Israeli company that has built facilities in the West Bank and seeks to bring Jews and Arabs together rather than driving them apart) have long been the bête noires of the anti-Israel left. Because no one on the left has any idea how real-world economics works, they think that the PCUSA selling its holdings will actually have some kind of effect on company policies. It won’t. But it will make activists feel like they’ve struck a mighty blow against Zionism.
•04-04: “On Supporting Middle East Peacemaking”
This one is straight out of the Harry Reid School of Legislative Sausage-Making. A resolution from the Presbytery of New Covenant that originally overtured the GA to
Reject any proposed divestment and economic sanctions against the state of Israel or any application of the PC(USA)’s corporate engagement policies toward such ends
Instruct the Presbyterian Foundation and the Board of Pensions of the PC(U.S.A.), to divest from Caterpillar, Inc., Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions, in accord with our church’s decades-long socially responsible investment (SRI) history, and not to reinvest in these companies until the Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee of the PC(USA) is fully satisfied that product sales and services by these companies are no longer in conflict with our church investment policy. This action on divestment does not mean an alignment with the overall strategy of the global BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanctions) movement.
So much for authorial intent. That last sentence is pure boilerplate meant to fool the rubes. Divestment by PCUSA does indeed align it firmly with the BDS (also known as IDS, for Israel Derangement Syndrome) movement, with all the anti-Semitic baggage carried around by that particular entity.
One other interesting thing about this overture. It also contradicts 04-01 by stating that General Assembly:
Declare its commitment to a [negotiated] two-state solution [(two states for two peoples)] in which a secure and universally recognized State of Israel lives alongside a free, viable, and secure state for the Palestinian people.
•04-09: “Resolution on Equal Rights for All Inhabitants of Israel and Palestine and on Conversations with Prophetic Voices”
This one demonstrates just how one-sided and dishonest the whole discussion has become in the PCUSA. It reads in part:
Despite decades of General Assembly and other international support for the freedom and self-determination of the Palestinian people, yet recognizing that the right to vote and personal freedoms have been denied or limited for most Palestinians under occupation and within Israel, the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy recommends that the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approve the following measures (a) to support equal rights and unblocked economic development for all inhabitants of Israel and the occupied territories including Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza, and (b) to support the open and faithful discussion of this need for equal rights and legal standing within congregational and other forums:
A. Regarding the provision of equal rights, the General Assembly supports:
•1. The establishment and protection of equal human rights for all inhabitants of Israel including:
•the establishment and protection of equal human rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, giving them parity with “Jewish Nationals;”
•freedom of travel and worship, including legal protection for non-Jewish sites;
•full protection of property rights without penalty for absence from Israel for business, education, family, or personal reasons;
•unhindered opportunities for economic development; and
•benefit from U.S. of financial aid without identity-based discrimination or exclusion.
2. The establishment and protection of equal human rights for all inhabitants of the occupied territories including Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza including:
•fair due process for all Palestinian inhabitants of the occupied territories who are arrested, convicted, and imprisoned either by the Israeli Defense Force or the Palestinian Authority;
•the ability to marry residents of other Palestinian areas without losing residency;
•special care in protecting the human rights of children;
•freedom of travel and worship;
•full protection of property rights, including freedom from arbitrary or unjust home demolitions;
•unhindered opportunities for economic development, including full access to international economic aid without identity-based discrimination; and
•access to tax revenues illegally sequestered.
Claiming that “Palestinians” (also known as “Israeli citizens”) have been denied the “right to vote and personal freedoms” in Israel proper is simply a lie (if they are talking about non-Israeli Palestinians, then they obviously have no concept of what citizenship is about). Regarding the rest of these demands–many of which are essentially demands that Israel give up any leverage it might have with the Palestinian Authority in any negotiations–do you notice what is missing? In this call for “equal rights,” there is nothing said about the right of Israelis, including Israeli Arabs, to any kind of security. That Israelis live under the daily threat of rocket and mortar attacks is of no concern to these prophets of equal rights. That Israel has a right to self-defense, including the raising of barriers to terrorism, is of no account. The protection of Jewish holy sites, subject to regular desecration in the West Bank, never occurs to them. In the minds of the Israel-haters, there is only one aggrieved party in this conflict, only one aggressor, only one scapegoat to be scourged. To claim they are interested in “equal rights” is as plausible coming from them as it would have been coming from U.S. senator and Klansman Theodore Bilbo (D-Mississippi) in the 1930s.
One other thing about this resolution, which passed the committee 61-4. It originally included this laughable piece of tripe:
Recommends the inclusion of a full range of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian viewpoints in conversations, including the increasing number of prophetic voices committed to nonviolence and equal rights such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions, Kairos Palestine U. S., Friends of Sabeel North America, Muslims for Progressive Values, and coalitions like the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation;
The list of organizations–a laundry list of far left and Israel-hating groups–was later removed. There’s good reason for that: these groups not only are not excluded from the “conversation,” but in fact completely dominate it. Viola Larson of Naming His Grace offers this eyewitness account of the travesty that this committee–whose original chairman was removed because the leadership worried that he’d be even-handed–embodies:
Today forty chairs were set up for resource people such as Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment and the Presbyterian Foundation. The back side of the room was filled with people from Jewish Voices for Peace, the people who made personal calls to commissioners [in violation of established practice–DF]. And everywhere one looked were resource people [i.e., denominational bureaucrats-DF] moving about the room.
The committee voted to put aside 04-08 and to take up 04-04, an item which reinforces the Presbyterian policy of a two state solution for Israel and Palestine, and speaks of positive investment, disallowing divestment. Immediately after voting to do this a commissioner made a motion that number two in item 04-04 be changed from saying, “Reject any proposed divestment and economic sanctions against the state of Israel or any application of the PC(USA)’s corporate engagement policies toward such end” to a call for divestment.
And just after this happened, which of course moved the committee toward the coming big debate on divestment, past moderator Rick Ufford-Chase entered the room and with a few nods and conversations with various people controlling the committee, as well as using the rights of a moderator, spoke at length about the importance of divestment. And then again the various organizations which are controlling this committee asked a pastor from South Africa to speak; it was almost a sermon on divestment. Since there was some protest about the speaker from South Africa, the committee voted for him after he was announced.
In a sense the commissioners are not debating this at all, instead an army of resource people are giving a monologue to the committee.
However one commissioner complained that they were not hearing the other side. And after a break another commissioner asked if John Wimberly of Presbyterians For Middle East Peace could speak. Again the committee voted and it was allowed. But he was only given three minutes.
Jim Berkley, formerly of the Institute on Religion and Democracy and also in attendance, estimated in the comments that the ration of anti- to pro-Israel discussion was on the order of 10:1.
Now the General Assembly is in the hot seat. Will it ratify the agenda of the Israel-haters? I’ll let you know.