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Moment of Truth

June 14, 2012
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A moment of truth is coming for the Presbyterian Church, and we American Jews have an opportunity to help its members see the light.

Thousands have already signed on to a petition calling on the church to reject proposals that it divest from three companies -- Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions -- which do business with Israel. That the church is once again going to be debating such proposals at its general assembly in Pittsburgh at the end of June or early July suggests the perverse persistence among some of its members to blame the Jewish state for all the ills stemming from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The petition, spearheaded by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Israel Action Network, has already garnered thousands of signatures.

As the Jewish Exponent has previously reported, one resolution also under consideration when Presbyterian USA meets actually rejects such divestment and repudiates the broader boycott, divestment and sanctions movement that seeks to isolate Israel.

That alternative resolution, which was submitted by the Presbytery of Philadelphia and passed by a vote of 61 to 39 at a special April 25 meeting of the local clergy, instead urges the 2.4 million-member Protestant church to adopt a more evenhanded approach.

The Philadelphia proposal asks the national church "to reject a strategy of economic coercion that singles out Israel as the source of the conflict and the ongoing obstacle to peace; to respect a policy that goes beyond a constructive critique and condemns Israel as an apartheid state."

The JCPA petition says a divestment policy would be harmful to Israel and the relationship between Jews and Christians. "We understand and respect your calling to invest in a morally responsible manner. A policy of divestment to pressure Israel, however, runs counter to these goals. Such a one-sided approach damages the relationship between Jews and Christians that has been nurtured for decades," the letter stated.

In May, the general conference of the United Methodist Church rejected a similar divestment measure that would cut off investments with the same three companies.

In advance of the Methodist conference, JCPA organized a letter from 1,300 rabbis. That campaign is believed to have been helpful in swaying the Methodists to reject the proposal.

It's not clear why these Christian denominations invest so much energy in these debates year after year. We do know that no good comes out of it. Anyone who wants to send that message to the Presbyterians should sign this letterby using this link: www.facebook.com/IsraelActionNetwork and looking for the "Letter in Hope."

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