Monday, June 19, 2006

Palestinian divestment and the Presbyterian Church


The leftist/Palestinian political push for divestment from Israel--in other words, to institute the campaign waged against apartheid South Africa in the 1980's--is on the verge of being dealt a severe body blow.

Two years ago, the 216th General Assembly jumpstarted mainstream acceptance of a movement long sought by Arab and Muslim activists to equate the Jewish state with apartheid South Africa. The 500+ plus voting members of the Presbyterian church overwhelmingly approved a measure "to initiate a process of phased, selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel." Jewish and Christian leaders alike heaped scorn on Presbyterians, though Muslim and Arab groups were giddy. For the past two years, pro-Palestinian organizations have used the momentum provided by the Presbyterian vote to encourage various intstitutions, such as universities, and other Christian denominations to follow suit.

Initially, divestment efforts seemed to be gaining a head of steam. But no university thus far has taken the bait, and almost all other churches persuaded to sign on have resisted. At several regional religious conferences over the past year, in fact, votes on divestment have been turning more and more against embracing the policy, resulting in a string of defeats for pro-Palestinian forces.

Just over an hour ago, the 62-member Peacemaking and International Issues Committee voted overwhelmingly to apologize for its action of two years ago and no longer officially endorse divestment. Much like the procedures of Congress, this "recommendation" must now be taken up by the 534 voting members of the full assembly, who can amend it, ratify it as is, or defeat it. Read More.

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