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Presbyterians overwhelmingly vote for boycott of settlement products; endorse ‘choice of conscience’ option for pension holders to screen CAT, Moto, and HP from portfolios

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(11:55 AM EST) In a surprise move, the Presbyterian General Assembly voted to endorse a “choice of conscience” option for pension holders who want to avoid investments in Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard. Anna Baltzer explains:

The assembly voted by 57% to accept a recommendation by the Board of Pensions (which supports divestment) for them to create a “choice of conscience” option for Pension holders troubled by investments in Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard, which would be voted on for approval at the next General Assembly.

The significance, in my initial interpretation:

1. The approval illustrates that investment in CAT, Moto, and HP represent a crisis of conscience for the church.

2. This would be, essentially, an occupation filter.

3. This shows that GA members support divestment in theory, but are scared for their church to recommend it, likely, I believe, due to fear of losing Jewish relationships. This is no consolation to those suffering under Israeli oppression, but it’s illustrative that people are not opposed, in principle, to divestment.

4. It’s a reminder that the entire church is for divestment — the Board of Pensions, Mission Responsibility Through Investment, Advisory Committee on Racial & Ethnic Concerns, etc. The Board of Pensions was so troubled by the votes that they tried to find a way ultimately to pursue divestment.

The exact wording of the proposal should be up at soon.

Correction: Baltzer sent this: “It was a commissioner, not the Board of Pensions, that made the proposal (though the Board of Pensions did support MRTI’s divestment recommendation).”

(10:35 AM EST) Presbyterian General Assembly votes for blanket boycott of goods produced in settlements:

The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) sent out the following release:

Presbyterian General Assembly Passes Boycott Motion

Following last night’s vote by the plenary of the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) on a motion to divest from three companies whose products are used in non-peaceful pursuits in the occupied Palestinian territories, the plenary has voted in favor of a separate resolution to boycott products made in Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, including Ahava Dead Sea beauty products and dates grown by Israeli cooperateive Hadiklaim.

Although the plenary failed to pass the divestment motion, its approval of the boycott resolution sends a strong signal nonetheless that the Presbyterian Church (USA) supports those Palestinians who are using peaceful means to secure their freedom and human rights in the face of Israel’s 45-year-old military occupation and colonization of their lands. The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) believes this is a positive step and hopes the church will continue to support Palestinians who are struggling nonviolently to achieve freedom and self-determination.

The razor thin margin of last night’s vote on divestment, which was defeated by just two votes, demonstrates that the General Assembly remains divided on both divestment and investment, and has failed to provide a clear mandate on these issues. Sadly, it is the millions of Palestinians living under occupation who will pay the price for this lack of a moral directive.

(10:16 AM EST) The Presbyterian General Assembly votes to drop several Israel/Palestine related items, saying that they fall under last night’s vote. This includes item 15-03 which called for divestment from Caterpillar. This means there will not be a separate vote on divesting from Caterpillar.

(9:55 AM EST) There was a vote on whether to reconsider last night’s decision on replacing divestment with investment in the occupied territories. The General Assembly voted 62% to 38% to not reconsider the vote.

Here are Twitter updates from the General Assembly:


Last night the the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly voted to endorse investment in the occupied Palestinian territories over an overture to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard due to their role in the occupation. The real vote came on a procedural move to substitute the divestment motion in favor of the investment proposal, and on that vote divestment lost 333 to 331, with 2 abstentions. Two votes away from a straight up vote on divestment.

Jewish Voice for Peace sent out the following press release:

Not Over Yet: Presbyterian vote to divest from companies that profit from Israel loses by just 2 votes.
Proponents vow to bring issue up again Friday.

[OAKLAND- July 5th, 2012] The Presbyterian Church USA vote to divest from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard because the companies profit from the Israeli Occupation failed tonight by an extraordinarily narrow margin of 333 to 331, with 2 abstentions.

Resolution proponents, who relied on a cadre of Christian and Jewish volunteers and a shoe-string budget— in sharp contrast to divestment opponents who have pledged to spend millions to fight divestment — have vowed to continue the fight on Friday. A critical vote on boycotting settlement goods will also take place.

Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voice for Peace Director of Campaigns, who had been in Pittsburgh at the General Assembly where the votes are taking places said, “It’s too early to know what is going to happen, but I have been moved to tears on multiple occasions as I saw authentic recognition of Palestinian experience and deep commitment to justice for all people by the Presbyterian Church. This is a historic moment in the struggle for dignity and justice, and I commend the PC(USA) for getting us this close to holding corporations accountable for profiting from the occupation. I suggest we all wait to see what unfolds on Friday.”

Here is how the New York Times describes the scene:

A deeply divided Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Thursday became the latest American church to shy away from divesting in companies that supply equipment to Israel to enforce its control in the occupied territories, after a passionate debate that stretched late into the evening and a vote that was nearly a tie.

The decision not to divest, the culmination of an eight-year process, was watched intensely by Christians, Jews and Palestinians in the United States and in the Middle East. It is likely to bring a sigh of relief to Jewish groups in Israel and the United States that lobbied Presbyterians against divestment, and to dismay the international movement known as B.D.S. — Boycott, Divest and Sanctions — which advocates using economic leverage to pressure Israel to return occupied land to the Palestinians.

By a vote of 333 to 331, with two abstentions, the church’s General Assembly voted at its biennial meeting in Pittsburgh to toss out the divestment measure and replace it with a resolution to encourage “positive investment” in the occupied territories. The results were so close that, when posted electronically in front of the convention, they evoked a collective gasp. After two and a half hours of passionate debate, the replacement resolution to invest in the territories passed more easily, 369 to 290, with eight abstentions.

There are more votes on the docket this morning, including a possible vote on divestment from Caterpillar. You can see here the overtures that passed the Middle East and Peacemaking Committee of the General Assembly. Last night the vote was on item 15-11, but divestment from Caterpillar is also raised in item 15-03. It is unclear whether this will be brought to a separate vote. In addition there will be a vote on item 15-02 which has been expanded to include a boycott on all products produced in Israeli settlements.

More updates to come . . .

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138 Responses

  1. seafoid
    July 6, 2012, 8:08 am

    “I have been moved to tears on multiple occasions as I saw authentic recognition of Palestinian experience and deep commitment to justice for all people by the Presbyterian Church. ”

    It is very moving to see an institution that is upheld by decent values and to know that there are so many people out there who are beyond the reach of hasbara, thuggery and intimidation .

    • Kathleen
      July 7, 2012, 11:20 am

      Playing softball. Protecting their own backs. Hiding behind “pretty words”

      • seafoid
        July 7, 2012, 7:45 pm

        The thing about this, IMO, Kathleen is that the Presbyterian church have been taken for a ride by the Zionists. The Presbyterians want to effect change in the world. There were probably some snake oil speeches by people close to Israel over the GA that swayed it but it was still very tight.

        The Zionists don’t care about Presbyterian values. They will shaft whoever gets in their way and that starts with the Gazans and goes all the way up to PotUS with the presbyterians somewhere in the middle.

        They are thugs.

        The Presbyterians haven’t fully figured it out yet but they are well on the way to doing so.

        And they’ll try to shaft them again 2 years from now but they’ll have made another enemy and this is how the dominoes will start to fall.

        They are too rabid for their own good.

  2. Edward Q
    July 6, 2012, 9:42 am

    If they have not done so, I hope the church also considers a resolution opposing war with Iran.

    • Adam Horowitz
      July 6, 2012, 10:24 am

      They have and it passed yesterday.

      • Citizen
        July 6, 2012, 11:14 am

        Odd, I have not seen this breaking news on US TV news. And of course, nothing at all is ever covered concerning various US Christian denominations being all in turmoil on the issue of Israel’s on-going illegal settlements and decades-old brutal occupation, during which they have ignored all the duties that come with being an “interim” Occupier, while the EU & US pays for what technically is Israel’s duty to pay for.

      • Les
        July 6, 2012, 3:01 pm

        Christians are an odd bunch. New York’s Trinity Church claims to be Christian yet its members elected capitalists to be its vestry. Some believe you can have it both ways.

      • Kathleen
        July 7, 2012, 11:20 am

        that is great

  3. Susan Johnson
    July 6, 2012, 10:16 am

    My thanks to Mondoweiss for providing this coverage so thoroughly.
    Last night’s vote was more than disappointing.
    This morning a delegate brought up the fact that the Assembly did hear pleas from Palestinian Christians, Palestinians or Muslims. Why? If there was an explanation, I missed it. I’m certain the guests speaking in opposition to divestment impacted the voting.

    • Adam Horowitz
      July 6, 2012, 10:24 am

      I don’t believe there was an explanation.

      • Citizen
        July 6, 2012, 11:16 am

        Generally, it seems all the more traditional Christian denominations have bought into the Christian fundy disconnect with Arab Christians, just as if the latter are not really Christians. The Christian fundy may not belong officially to any Christian sect, but they all walk around having inner talks with their best friend Jesus daily.

    • ritzl
      July 6, 2012, 10:41 am

      I don’t know what speakers influenced what, but if CAT didn’t have a plant in NC(?), the divestment vote would have passed. There were, imo, legitimate (i.e. legitimately debated) concerns about local economic loyalty/effect.

      The PCUSA divest action wouldn’t have had much, if any, local effect, but the concerns probably swayed a few votes. toward the substitute.

    • seafoid
      July 6, 2012, 10:42 am


      It was very close and it must have felt disappointing but think of what the vote means for the Zionists. The motion will be brought up again next year and by then they won’t have a hope.

      Karl Rove said “when you re explaining you have lost” and that is where Zionism is increasingly finding itself. None of this stuff is supposed to happen in the open. EVERY big decision they got- right back to Sykes Picot during WW1 , through 1948, the Lebanon invasion 1982, Bush 2005 settlements declaration , approval for Cast Lead 2009 – was done in secret, behind closed doors. Because Zionism has never had the population to match the political influence. When the issues are put to an open international vote the bots lose – 1970’s Zionism is racism, last year UNESCO etc.

      Shameless abuse of the sacrifices made by those consumed in the Shoah can’t protect them any longer. Decent people are sick of them and their cruelty .

      • ritzl
        July 6, 2012, 11:13 am

        So true, sefoid. Just today, Israel announced the demolition of the entire village of Susya. There will be a lot of new info/pix at the next GA. This debate provides the framework for evaluating those developments between now and then. And I don’t think that’s just positive spin on a disappointing result. I think its actual progress.


      • seafoid
        July 6, 2012, 3:58 pm

        I don’t think the result was disappointing. Expecting a win now was premature. What is important is that the debate is going mainstream and that people are becoming aware of it. Caterpillar won’t be happy with the brand damage. Michael Oren will understand that he has achieved nothing in his current job. It is all coming out into the open. 331-333 is a pyrrhic victory for Israel. Think of all the lobbying effort that had to go into this one. The embassy and Oren and AIPAC and everyone probably busted a gut and at some point they must have realised that the threats and the slurs of antisemitism are only 5o% effective.

        AND there are so many good people who recognise that the Israeli occupation is pure evil and has nothing to do with Judaism.

      • ritzl
        July 7, 2012, 3:39 am

        Totally agree, seafoid. Particularly the last point. The Commissioners bent over backwards to sustain what they called “ecumenical relations” in the divestment debate/vote, yet they voted overwhelmingly voted to boycott settlement products.

        I think the PCUSA delegates took charges of anti-semitism seriously (as a Presbyterian it’s what we do), and sought a way to make their conflicted sentiments known. I think these multiple PCUSA GA issues/votes taken together show the pronounced discernment between Jews/Judaism vs. Israel/Occupation. They could not have made it clearer.

        The question becomes, as American and others have pointed out here, is whether the extraneous, spurious, and scurrilous accusations of anti-semitism continue to hold sway. I think there will be a bad taste left over from this experience for many of the delegates. A bad taste that’s going to linger for two years until the next GA.

        The PCUSA GA tried to have it both ways this time. Next time maybe not so much.

      • seafoid
        July 7, 2012, 7:35 pm


        Some of the senior people were probably afraid of the consequences of voting against the Zionists. It may have been easier to just keep the status quo but such an awkward decision that goes against strongly held principles will be the focus of much thinking over the next 2 winters .

        I would think a lot of delegates will go home and follow the news more closely from now on any time Israel comes up. There will more than likely be a war initiated by Israel between now and 2014. Ideas will become clearer .

        There is this taking the word of the Zionists in good faith- there could have have been 40 or 50 people who were finally swayed by something some sincere Zionist said over what their conscience was telling them. 2 years on they won’t be duped again.

        Shamir said it is okay to lie for Erez Israel Hashlemah . Ethical people of faith are probably the worst people to lie to. But Zionist arrogance doesn’t register that.


      • ritzl
        July 9, 2012, 12:11 am

        @seafoid Well said, as usual. I still can’t get over the contrast offered up by the simultaneous vote against divestment and the GoI’s announcement of the demolition of the entire village of Susya (Susiya). How can that not be taken as a glaring gesture of bad faith by people seeking truth (which I believe the Presbys have a history of doing, however methodically)? As Rabbi Rosenthal was admonishing the GA, Israel was removing another village, en toto. Ironic photo diary superimposing vote totals with demolitions to be circulated soon (while memory is fresh)…

        On people of faith, yes, easy to lie to, but as you say, the worst people to lie to, for that reason.

  4. Blake
    July 6, 2012, 10:49 am

    Thanks Adam/MW for covering this so thoroughly. Not happy with the overall outcome but boycotting settlement goods is a step on the right direction. Onwards to next year then I suppose.

  5. giladg
    July 6, 2012, 11:01 am

    Watching the live feed it was encouraging to hear the Minister from South Africa, 5th generation, categorically describe the situation in Israel as having nothing to do with apartheid.

    • seafoid
      July 6, 2012, 11:18 am


      If this wasn’t important you could have been working.
      Your side is losing the war.

    • Sumud
      July 6, 2012, 11:32 am

      Can you tell me the Minister’s name?

      Is there a transcript?

      You understand that apartheid has a definition apart from what happened in SA, right? That it doesn’t have to be the same as SA to be apartheid.

      More than one prominent South African has categorically said the situation in Israel is worse than apartheid. There was nothing like the siege on Gaza in SA, no 25,000 house demolitions and the systematic attempt to make like a living hell for SA’s so they would leave. No white phosphorous raining down on children. No F-16’s dropping bombs.

      • giladg
        July 6, 2012, 11:48 am

        When you mix politics into all of this, wise men know not allow themselves to be dragged along with fashion trends. It is now fashionable to bash Israel and wrongly accuse it of many things.

      • Annie Robbins
        July 6, 2012, 12:03 pm

        “fashionable” is the new hasbara rhetorical trend. as if human rights were a pretty new dress you could wear one day and discard the next.

        let’s all wear occupation blue today, that special shade of blue, with the torture shoes and the administrative detention hat. if the light is right with the angle tight it’s self-determiningly regal.

        wear occupation blue today

      • Annie Robbins
        July 6, 2012, 12:08 pm

        When you mix politics into all of this, wise men know not allow themselves to be dragged along

        anna baltzer email:

        The assembly voted by 57% to accept a recommendation by the Board of Pensions (which supports divestment) for them to create a “choice of conscience” option for Pension holders troubled by investments in Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard, which would be voted on for approval at the next General Assembly.

        The significance, in my initial interpretation:

        1. The approval illustrates that investment in CAT, Moto, and HP represent a crisis of conscience for the church.

        2. This would be, essentially, an occupation filter. Such a fund, to my knowledge, does not exist anywhere in the United States (or elsewhere?).

        3. This shows that GA members support divestment in theory, but are scared for their church to recommend it, likely, I believe, due to fear of losing Jewish relationships. This is no consolation to those suffering under Israeli oppression, but it’s illustrative that people are not opposed, in principle, to divestment.

        4. It’s a reminder that the entire church is for divestment — the Board of Pensions, Mission Responsibility Through Investment, Advisory Committee on Racial & Ethnic Concerns, etc. The Board of Pensions was so troubled by the votes that they tried to find a way ultimately to pursue divestment.

      • Sumud
        July 6, 2012, 12:10 pm

        So… you can’t tell me the Minister’s name and/or show a transcript then?

        When some nobody agrees with you that is Truth, but when someone else disagrees it is Fashion?

      • seafoid
        July 6, 2012, 12:11 pm

        Wear the occupation necklace- white and blue phosphorous .

      • giladg
        July 6, 2012, 12:37 pm

        It’s a natural reaction Annie, but it is short sighted. Everyone wants to be involved in a major, hopefully positive event, in their lifetime. Politicians want to fix things now and so implement short term programs, where really long term programs, devoid of politics, are the best solutions. But they don’t want the other guy to get the credit. There is little patience nor true sacrifice. Man can be selfish and usually is. And so it goes with the Palestinian issue. You want it to be the cause of our time, but allas, it is not. So you force the narrative. And so the fashion element builds steam and artificially creates hype. And in the process you are participating in a great injustice towards the Jewish people and Israel.

      • American
        July 6, 2012, 1:17 pm

        “Everyone wants to be involved in a major, hopefully positive event, in their lifetime. “…gilad

        Well that part is true. People do want to be involved in some major event, cause or victory.
        What will you do when the major cause for Americans is to rid their government of corruption….particularly the foreign kind?
        This has in fact already started in grass roots and includes Israel Firstdom.
        It is not possible for Israel- first to dominate America forever, holocuast sympathy as a cover for Israel has already ended in the publics of most countries and is reaching their governments.
        I can’t emphasize enough how bad it’s going to be for Israel when it ends in the US.
        But you zionist are too high on zioncaine to understand how the world of others works….it’s a lot like that wheel of God, it grinds slowly but exceeding fine.

      • Annie Robbins
        July 6, 2012, 1:28 pm

        Politicians want to fix things now and so implement short term programs, where really long term programs, devoid of politics, are the best solutions.

        how does this relate to the occupation? do you mean it is a short term program where a really long term program (equality) is the best solution? but politics and the israel lobby get in the way with all their meddling in election funding get in the way and our politicians then supporting apartheid? apartheid is the ugly short term solution, it is not sustainable.

        But they don’t want the other guy to get the credit. There is little patience nor true sacrifice. Man can be selfish and usually is.

        what kind of sacrifice are you suggesting for our politicians gilad? standing up to the lobby? please tell me you do not think the lobby is in the business of sacrifice.

        You want it to be the cause of our time, but allas, it is not.

        really. maybe you could use this presbyterian GA as a microcosm to express your views. what stood out for you as being ‘ the cause of our time’ at the GA other than this divestment issue? please explain how a 2 pt separation does not make it the crucial debate of our time.

        and to take it even further please explain how or why americans are continually having the US/IS bonding with israel shoved down our collectives throats day in and day out if equal/civil rights is..not ‘the cause of our time’.

        the conversation is just getting louder and louder. your denial can’t stop it.

        you force the narrative.

        no one is forcing you to be here gilad. people come to this site out of free choice. no one is forcing anyone to divest from israel, to divest from the occupation. we simply provide exposure and truth. the truth will set us free. that is why it is getting louder ever since the choice and the lack of ability for the msm to control the narrative.

        the fashion element builds steam and artificially creates hype

        at least we agree on something. like i said “fashionable” is the new hasbara rhetorical trend. remember you are the person who initiated/inserted this fashionista discourse into the narrative. not sure it will serve you tho…resistance to occupation comes in all shades of truth.

      • giladg
        July 6, 2012, 2:00 pm

        Annie, you set the bar so high for Israel, at levels that have not been achieved anywhere, for any other people and at any time in history.

        Allow me to tell you something. Lets assume that the Palestinians get all they are asking for. Israel gives up the West Bank. Refugees move into Israel proper. Israel gives the Palestinians all of East Jerusalem The Palestinians take over the Temple Mount. Gaza and the West Bank merge. Did I leave anything out? Ignoring Jewish anger for the moment, the first thing that would happen amongst Muslims is that they fight amongst themselves over who should control the Temple Mount, the holiest site for Jews and the third holiest for Islam. Amongst the Palestinians Hamas, and Fatah will start fighting and the Muslim Brotherhood will step to the fore. The rest of the Muslim world, who already dislike the Palestinians immensely, will not accept the Palestinians as guardians to the third holiest site for Islam. As in the times when the Ottoman Empire and when Jordan controlled Jerusalem, restrictions will be place on Jews and Christians and will be bared from stepping onto the Temple Mount. They did this in Jerusalem and they do this in Mecca and Medina. The Temple Mount will be the same.
        And then you have the do-gooders, who thought they were involved in the cause of their lifetime, thinking they were helping the Palestinians, then wondering why they even bothered (like those who helped the students in Tahrir square). But they will not give this too much thought as they then look to the next exciting project, and the next cause to get involved with.
        At some point you may then start to understand that the Palestinian cause was more about hype and fashion and less about substance and the conclusion will be that it was a huge waste of time, and a lot of other things as well. Christians, like the ones voting today, will be contributing to harming the freedom of religion and the exodus of Christians from the region, as radical Islam gains momentum.

      • Dutch
        July 6, 2012, 2:59 pm

        ‘And in the process you are participating in a great injustice towards the Jewish people and Israel.’

        Forget it. As a Jew you must be out of your mind to support Israel. There is nothing Jewish about their crimes, mister.

      • Sumud
        July 6, 2012, 3:48 pm

        Annie, you set the bar so high for Israel, at levels that have not been achieved anywhere, for any other people and at any time in history.

        Poor chap doesn’t see how ridiculous his statements are.

        Annie wants what most people here and around the world want for Palestinians: for their human rights to be respected, for them not to have to live any longer under Israeli jack-boot and as refugees, and to have some say in the government that rules their lives.

        Really basic stuff. Nothing out of the ordinary.

      • seafoid
        July 6, 2012, 3:49 pm

        “Annie, you set the bar so high for Israel”

        Treaties Israel has signed are too much for Israel. Never again is impossible for Israel. Democracy is too hard for Israel. Torture is irresistible to Israel.
        And on the absurdity goes.

        Do you whine like this in real life, Gilad?

      • Woody Tanaka
        July 6, 2012, 4:19 pm

        giladg, you truly are a racist. If one were to make a similar statement about the Jews, you would denounce it as true and as bigoted. Yet you fling such vile invectives against Palestinians and Muslims. You are a sick person.

      • American
        July 6, 2012, 4:43 pm

        “And in the process you are participating in a great injustice towards the Jewish people and Israel.”…..gilad

        How funny. You have spent most of your time here saying Israeli might makes right and how you will kill us all to defend Israel…and now you want to talk about ‘injustice’…lol

      • MRW
        July 6, 2012, 5:09 pm

        @giladg, Re: July 6, 2012 at 11:48 am

        You anthropomorphize Israel, as if it were a mother defending her kids or some abused boy. This was the habit of localized uneducated peasantry whose community was threatened by the encroaching wider civilization. And you write here as if you were one of its village elders defending the stance.

        Meantime, the rest of us are in the 21st C taking Israel at its word that it wants to be accepted as a modern nation state.

        Which is it?

      • MRW
        July 6, 2012, 5:14 pm


        <i."Annie, you set the bar so high for Israel, at levels that have not been achieved anywhere, for any other people and at any time in history."

        Crack a book.

      • Shingo
        July 6, 2012, 9:34 pm

        Annie, you set the bar so high for Israel, at levels that have not been achieved anywhere, for any other people and at any time in history.

        Oh really? So at no time anywhere in history has stolen land been returned, ethnic cleansing and colonization been stopped.

      • thankgodimatheist
        July 6, 2012, 11:36 pm

        “the first thing that would happen amongst Muslims is that they fight amongst themselves over who should control the Temple Mount,”

        Palestinian Muslims are one rather cohesive group, Sunnis. Why shout they fight amongst themselves “over who should control the Temple Mount,”. You can’t possibly be that ignorant, can you?

        “The rest of the Muslim world, who already dislike the Palestinians immensely, will not accept the Palestinians as guardians to the third holiest site for Islam.”
        I don’t know what to make of this surrealistic commentary. What makes you think the Muslim world dislike the Palestinians “immensely”?
        I’m stunned! Is that all you’ve got? What a loony!

      • Erasmus
        July 7, 2012, 1:58 am

        Re Dutch : “… There is nothing Jewish about their crimes, mister.”

        I beg to D i s a g r e e.
        Most probably, however, the above quoted statement just happens to be an unfortunate andimprecise formulation?

        Unfortunately there is ALL about their crimes that is Jewish.
        Who else than Jewish Zionists commit them?

        I trust what you wanted to state is sth like this:
        There is nothing in their crimes that is reflecting the noble essence of Judaism and its principal moral and ethical values.

        With such a statement i like to fully agree with.

      • ritzl
        July 7, 2012, 3:47 am

        God, if there was one lesson from the PCUSA debate, it’s that there were NO politics involved.

        Again, keep talkin’.

      • piotr
        July 7, 2012, 7:19 am

        “Ignoring Jewish anger for the moment, the first thing that would happen amongst Muslims is that they fight amongst themselves over who should control the Temple Mount, the holiest site for Jews and the third holiest for Islam.”

        giladg, you are a very low quality prophet. It so happens that there is a religious foundation, Waqf — this is a generic word for a Muslim religious foundation, but “the Waqf” controls the Mount, no fighting about it, no trace of a reason to foresee future fights about it.

        Some people just cannot grasp history or morality, but your grammar is mostly correct, hence there is a hope that with perseverance and hard work you will learn it. However, one sentence is quite egregious. “As in the times when the Ottoman Empire and when Jordan controlled Jerusalem, restrictions will be place on Jews and Christians and will be bared from stepping onto the Temple Mount.” (a) … and when Jordan — delete when (b) restriction will be place — placed (c) bared from — never correct, “photos bared from Berlusconi sex parties” should be “bared photos from Berlusconi sex parties”, you can find some of those photos and regret that you were BARRED from attending (d) how one can bar restrictions from steping onto anything?

      • giladg
        July 7, 2012, 7:55 am

        Annie, I’ll tell you how it relates to the “occupation” and calling it an occupation is a main part of the problem. You are more concerned with the aesthetics of the current situation than you are with the cause. Some Palestinians need to pass through checkpoints. Aesthetically this does not look good so the instinct of those concerned with the short term is “how do we get rid of the checkpoints” instead of examining what happened to bring about the checkpoint in the first place. And it all goes back to the time when the local Arab population rejected more Jews returning to Palestine and buying land legally. When they stopped Jews buying land legally by both acts of violence and appeals to the Ottoman Empire, they then set in motion a chain of events including the massacare of the Jews of Hebron, the alliance with the Nazis, the rejection of the 1947 Partion Plan and all the subsequent acts of violence and declarations of war set out to destroy Israel.
        And so it goes with the West Bank. Jordan controlled the WB when Israel took it over. So it was really liberated from Jordan. As the Palestinians never controlled it, how could you possibly say that Israel is occupying Palestinian land? Palestinianians where on the land but they never controlled it. As Jews have a legitimate right to live here as well, the land is ״contested”. Those with longer term vision and understanding of history see it as such. Those who have no patience, dislike Jews and are not interested in history, are more concerned with short term solutions. And many self-hating Jews fit this category as well.

      • Erasmus
        July 7, 2012, 10:37 am

        Re Dutch : “… There is nothing Jewish about their crimes, mister.”

        I beg to D i s a g r e e.
        Most probably, however, the above quoted statement just happens to be an unfortunate and imprecise formulation?

        Unfortunately there is ALL about their crimes that is Jewish.
        Who else than Jewish Zionists commit them?

        I trust what you wanted to state is sth like this:

        There is nothing in their crimes that is reflecting the noble essence of Judaism and its principal moral and ethical values.
        With such a statement i like to fully agree with.

      • Ellen
        July 7, 2012, 10:57 am

        As in the times when the Ottoman Empire and when Jordan controlled Jerusalem, restrictions will be place on Jews and Christians …

        That is a simple lie.

        The rest of the argument after the lie is projection.

      • Dutch
        July 8, 2012, 9:34 pm

        Erasmus — I see your point and thank you for the elegant solution. Ten points.

      • giladg
        July 9, 2012, 2:35 am

        Great idea MRW. When last did you open the Torah or Bible? The Dead Sea Scrolls are over 2,000 years old that talk directly about Jewish history and heritage in the very places you offer one sided support to the Palestinians. Your cold blooded description of my anthropomorphism dismisses the books above. So why don’t you take some of your own advise. Crack a book.

    • marc b.
      July 6, 2012, 11:40 am

      i didn’t see that bit, gildag, but if you are reporting accurately, the minister’s opinion isn’t universal, as you likely know.

      from martin rubin’s review of ‘The Unlikely Secret Agent’ by Ronnie Kasrils.

      For all its uxorious devotion, “The Unlikely Secret Agent” is problematic in several respects. The terrorist campaign conducted by the ANC was aimed almost entirely at the government and not at civilians. It is the more distressing, then, to encounter Mr. Kasrils’s unreserved embrace of the Irish Republican Army and the PLO, despite their rebarbative, civilian-centered terrorist record. His equation of Zionism with apartheid is equally distressing.

      more self-centered, myopic nonsense from zionists. as if the PLO could compete with the IDF/IAF when it comes to civilian casualties; as if arafat’s tactics were more ‘civilian-centered’ or bloodier than those of jabotinsky, stern and others.

    • Blake
      July 6, 2012, 11:51 am

      giladg: Yeah that from a white Minister and a black minister said it was according to the tweets I was watching and the tweeter added something like “how typical”.

      • Rusty Pipes
        July 7, 2012, 4:42 pm

        I remember hearing the commissioner identify himself as a former South African who didn’t think that the occupation was Apartheid. I can think of quite a few white Southerners who wouldn’t think it looks like Jim Crow either. The situation in Palestine fits the UN definition of Apartheid (Separation), even if it is not identical in all respects to the South African manifestation. Many Black South African leaders have said that in some respects, the situation in the West Bank is worse than Apartheid South Africa.

      • Blake
        July 8, 2012, 5:40 pm

        Well said and your moniker cracks me up every time I see it. How original!

    • Blake
      July 6, 2012, 12:23 pm

      giladg: “Dear Presbyterians: Why it is Apartheid”

      • Fredblogs
        July 6, 2012, 7:43 pm

        You link to an anti-Semitic website to support your claims? Birds of a feather. Seriously, type in “Veteranstoday a” into google. Second quick fill option is “anti-Semitic”.

      • Sumud
        July 6, 2012, 11:07 pm

        Seriously, type in “Veteranstoday a” into google. Second quick fill option is “anti-Semitic”.

        Seriously, google rankings – is that your proof?

        So when I type in ‘Israeli a’ and the fourth option is apartheid what does that mean? Does 4th rank count or only 2nd?

        Did you read the VT article? Pls point to the anti-semitic content.

      • thankgodimatheist
        July 6, 2012, 11:29 pm

        ” anti-Semitic”

        Throwing around the “anti-Semitic” slander should get you banned on this site. You are greatly contributing to stripping it of any relevant meaning.

      • Citizen
        July 7, 2012, 7:21 am

        Fredblogs, nice lame hasbara kiddie try at smearing the messenger to avoid Ms Fleming’s detailed analysis re why Presbyterians should conclude Israel’s conduct is essentially apartheid:

        I suggest people here read the article linked to here, rather than respond to Fredblogs, who as usual did not even read the article, let alone respond to its content.

      • Blake
        July 8, 2012, 5:20 pm

        Thanks Citizen. That’s Fred to a tee. Hajo Meyer summed it up perfectly:
        According to Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer ‘Formerly, an anti-Semite was somebody who hated Jews because they were Jews and had a Jewish soul. But nowadays an anti-Semite is someone who is hated by the Jews’.

    • Roya
      July 6, 2012, 3:46 pm

      @giladg: The fact that people even have to address this issue is a bad sign for your camp. :D

  6. Blake
    July 6, 2012, 11:06 am

    Looking at the tweets above:
    2 minutes ago
    Disapprove apartheid overture: 403 YES, 175 NO, 0 ABSTAIN. Apartheid language loses #churchdivest

    That is insane!

  7. bintbiba
    July 6, 2012, 11:09 am

    Thank you Adam and Mondoweiss for bearing witness!
    Sad outcome but….onwards and upwards!

    • Citizen
      July 6, 2012, 11:31 am

      Adam or Phil should follow this up with an article regarding the recent British Parliament Debate over Area C in the on-going Occupation; included in the transcript of this debate is much awareness of just what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians for so many years, and concern that the Brit government itself is at MINIMUM, acting illegally under Brit and international law by not instituting its own de facto boycott of Israel goods made in the OT:

      When will the US Congress offers its citizens a debate on this subject? When you read the debate transcript you will see the Brit government realizes Israel is not concerned about what it is doing to the Palestinians, nor that what it is doing is cutting off any possible chance of a two-state solution, but rather, Israel is only concerned with getting a war with Iran on, and Israel is worried if Obama is re-elected, said war may not come transpire. The Brits are also bothered that the EU is doing and paying for desperately needed infrastructure for the Palestinians, and Israel is returning this favor which is actually its own duty as “interim” Occupier–by destroying the infrastructure the EU has paid for and Palestinians have rebuilt or built.

      • Dutch
        July 6, 2012, 3:13 pm

        Right. It’s just five years ago that the Dutch built and paid for a new harbor in Gaza, as to stimulate the fishing industry. Soon after the harbor was bombed off the map by ‘our best friend’. Oh, and the same happened to the new airport – it hasn’t been used. And to the German solar panels. Etc.

        The message: Israel (Gilad would say ‘The Jewish people’) wants the Palestinians to live like animals, so they pack up and vaporate. And if they don’t pack up – hey, Israel can at least show the world they’re animals. See how they live!

      • seafoid
        July 6, 2012, 3:46 pm

        Israeli tank crews carved a Star of David into the land of Gaza that could be seen by the planes bombing the strip with white phosphorous during Cast Lead .

        That is what they have done to Judaism. But nobody ever said “stop!” to them, did they?

        And that trashing of EU funded projects will come back to haunt the bots. Because 40% of Israel’s exports go to the EU and we don’t need anything from Israel that we can’t source elsewhere.

    • seafoid
      July 6, 2012, 11:34 am

      Ma sha Allah in the Presbyterian case is due next year and there will be many more votes for divestment and iustice in the meantime.

  8. giladg
    July 6, 2012, 11:23 am

    Hey Adam! Feeling a little spiritual with all the worshiping going on?

    • Adam Horowitz
      July 6, 2012, 11:35 am

      The music is certainly better than Har Zion where I grew up

      • dbroncos
        July 7, 2012, 10:12 pm

        Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Adam! I’m so sorry to hear that. Presbyterian “music” was pretty horrible as I remember it. Although I did enjoy the organist playing Bach’s organ music as a prelude and postlude to the church services. It was my favorite thing about the services.

    • Eva Smagacz
      July 6, 2012, 12:51 pm

      You just said to Adam: “Hey Adam! Feeling a little spiritual with all the worshiping going on?”
      Is this an intra-Jewish code for:
      “You are spending to much time between Christians, you are feeling comfortable in their company and their places of warship, you are a traitor to your people and your faith”?

      • giladg
        July 6, 2012, 4:40 pm

        Take note Adam!

      • ritzl
        July 7, 2012, 4:03 am

        “Take note Adam!”

        Is that a “yes” to Eva’s question?

      • giladg
        July 7, 2012, 12:57 pm

        No that is not a “yes” to Eva’s question. I am pointing out two things here. One, is that I assume Adam has drifted from Judaism. He may call himself Jewish but that’s where the connection ends. Does Adam pray or believe in G-d? Adam?
        And second, I am highlighting anti-Semitic undertones, that should tell Adam that, at this period in time, Jews who attack Israel will create damage on two fronts. It will bring the anti-Semites out of the woodwork, and two the damage being done to Israel, with the help of Jews who think they understand the conflict and think that Israel is the only guilty party, may never be reversible.

      • Citizen
        July 7, 2012, 1:26 pm

        Gee, giladg, when did the jews make you their pope? I thought they left such a creature to the Catholics. Who are you to decide Adam is not a jew, and since when did a jew have to pray or believe in G-d to be a jew? What do you think makes you a real jew, but not Adam? Do you think the same of Phil? Again, why?

        Does your version of being a real jew include recognition on a universal level that all humans are created equal before our maker, imbued with the image of G-d? Are ethics only true ethics if they apply across the board to all humans? Or do you live in a tree with a double set of ethics (and your stone axe), like an aboriginal tribe in the deepest, most remote part of New Guinea? Or do you live in a bipolar world where equality before law is the goal because that is G-d’s will?

      • Annie Robbins
        July 7, 2012, 1:47 pm

        Does Adam pray or believe in G-d? Adam?

        lol, beware secular jews…

        I am highlighting anti-Semitic undertones

        you have not highlighted anything remotely anti semitic that i can tell. making a claim is not the same as highlighting something specific adam wrote.

        saying “Adam has drifted from Judaism” implies he was once a religious jew. you know there are non religious jews who have always been secular. no one is required to provide you with jewish bonafides.

      • eljay
        July 7, 2012, 1:50 pm

        >> One, is that I assume Adam has drifted from Judaism.

        That’s not for you to decide. If he says he’s a Jew, he’s a Jew. What really irks you that not all Jews are hateful and immoral Zio-supremacists like you.

        >> … Jews who attack Israel will create damage on two fronts.

        Jews who “attack” Israel do far less harm than do the Jews who support the evils committed by Israel and its hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist supporters. You, giladgeee, are a bigger threat to the Jews of the world than a guy like Adam could ever be.

      • giladg
        July 7, 2012, 2:30 pm

        I never said he was not A Jew. I am pointing out that there are Jews who forgo their own heritage and rather see themselves as belonging to a non descript group of people, that we know does not exist, but in the process they try to influence others to lose their identities. I see the retaining of identities as being very important, especially in creating community and working to better oneself. Without community this happens far less.

      • American
        July 7, 2012, 3:19 pm

        I am pointing out that there are Jews who forgo their own heritage and rather see themselves as belonging to a non descript group of people, that we know does not exist”….gilad

        Who is the non descript group of people who don’t exist?

      • giladg
        July 7, 2012, 5:18 pm

        Typical attributes of those who strive to belong to this group include:

        1) Believe that not only is everyone born equal, but everyone should be equal, as long as their own lifestyles are not impacted. Everyone should be like them.
        2) May belong to a synagogue or church but are actually secular. Religion is not at all important. The social aspect of belonging to the synagogue/church is what motivates.
        3) They say they want to fix the world.
        4) Use the affiliation to the synagogue or church as a vehicle to pursue the “fix the world” thing and this objective becomes the main focus of the community.
        5) Usually are financially above average.
        6) Live in well to do areas.
        7) Volunteer for short periods in order to feel good, with little personal sacrifice. The latte and capo-chino’s are never far away.
        8) They don’t understand that it is a natural thing, and a good thing, for people to gravitate to the similar.
        9) Do not understand the law of nature that says that man is inherently weak and most men, under the “right” set of circumstances can be racist.
        10) Do not understand that man can be evil.
        11) Are not interested in history. Only concerned with the present.
        12) Ultimately, they are selfish, and are really doing it all for their own feeling of self worth.

        When I mentioned that the group does not exist, I should rather have said that the group does not have a long shelf life. Usually there are charismatic leaders and individuals in the group and when they move on, the groups falls apart.

      • Citizen
        July 7, 2012, 5:30 pm

        giladg, I think your ” non descript group of people, that we know does not exist” are called Americans, or is that the way you describe what are more commonly known in Western Civilization as “individuals”? Or are you Borg?

      • ritzl
        July 7, 2012, 5:43 pm

        @giladg Don’t you guys ever get tired of parsing first this way and then the opposite way?

        Isn’t Jewishness an ethnicity within which Judaism is irrelevant for some, a part for others, and principle identity for still others.

        Here you’re setting up religious observance as the arbiter of being a Jew. In the very next sentence you start into some oblique warning about antisemitism against “Jews.” Is your definition of antisemitism only bigotry against religious Jews? Secular Jews don’t have to be concerned?

        Second, Israel is doing the damage to itself by claiming “western democracy” status while acting all Syrian. The hypocrisy and eroding credibility is self-induced. MW just reports and discusses it. Why even question who Adam (or anyone else) hangs with or doesn’t hang with? It’s weird. Very weird.

      • thankgodimatheist
        July 8, 2012, 12:26 am

        “Does Adam pray or believe in G-d? Adam?”
        What if he doesn’t? The greatest Jews ever (that I’ve heard of, at least) are non-believers. Where does that leave you? Fueling anti-Semitism by justifying, condoning and defending the indefensible.

      • Roya
        July 8, 2012, 2:30 am

        Gilad: I usually encounter secular Zionists but since you seem to assert yourself as religious, I have to ask–does God tell you it’s so important for Jews to have a state that it’s ok to resort to terrorism and ethnic cleansing to obtain it? I’m not being sarcastic here, I really want to hear your thoughts on this (unless you’re going to deny the fact that terrorism and ethnic cleansing took/is taking place).

      • giladg
        July 8, 2012, 4:47 am

        Roya, Israel and primarily the Zionists (excluding the extreme Left in Israel), are undertaking an historic attempt to secure the survival of the Jewish State. This does not mean that Israeli’s, as individuals, have not participated in ugly things. But not as a policy of the government and not as representing anyone but themselves. Israel being called a terrorist state and has policies of ethnic cleansing is a flat out lie. Don’t believe it.
        And if G-d tells me something, rest assured, you will be the first person I tell. Too many people on this planet act in the name of G-d instead of trying to emulate him through their own actions. They want to punish others for not believing in their understanding and version of G-d.

      • Roya
        July 8, 2012, 9:01 pm

        “Israel being called a terrorist state and has policies of ethnic cleansing is a flat out lie. Don’t believe it.”
        Wow! Save the day! Congratulations Gilad, you have officially got yourself your first Zionist convert! Why in the world did I bother with all the books, documentaries, articles, footage when all I needed was a Zionist to lay it all out for me? Now that I have found Truth, anything is possible. Together we can recruit Phil to our cause and turn around this self-hating, anti-Semitic website. Shall we begin?

      • Fredblogs
        July 6, 2012, 8:09 pm

        Oh, please. Nobody thinks hanging around with Christians makes him a traitor. Lots of non-traitors hang around with Christians.

      • giladg
        July 7, 2012, 8:12 am

        Fredblogs, please don’t put words in my mouth. I never said anything about hanging around with Christians. Eva Shmagacz is exposing her antisemitism by initially suggesting this, always looking for the smoking gun on how Jews “controll” the world and have this secret lingo that goes with it.

      • Ellen
        July 7, 2012, 11:05 am

        Gilad, first you ridicule Phil…teasing that the Christian music might have some spiritual effect on him….then you project some crapola onto Eva and finish it up by calling her Anti-Semitic, whatever that is.

        No offense meant, but your style discredits you, not the objects of your ridicule.

        The real anti Jews are the ones supporting and excusing crimes in their name.

      • American
        July 7, 2012, 2:34 pm

        “Eva Shmagacz is exposing her antisemitism by initially suggesting this, always looking for the smoking gun on how Jews “controll” the world and have this secret lingo that goes with it.”…gilad

        Secret lingo?….what is the secret lingo?

      • Citizen
        July 7, 2012, 5:25 pm

        Eva’s been commenting on this blog for a long time, giladg, and she has a very good reputation here among the regulars who are not drunk with ziocaine; comparing your comments with hers in the archives, it’s really hard not to conclude Eva has more humanity in her little finger than you have in your whole drugged body.

      • Fredblogs
        July 12, 2012, 4:29 pm

        I’m not putting words in your mouth, I’m implying that she is.

  9. Boycott Israel on Campus
    July 6, 2012, 12:29 pm

    What will it take before Mondoweiss simply marches into the New York city council to demand divestment against Israel?

    Would that really be so hard?

    • Annie Robbins
      July 6, 2012, 1:34 pm

      bioc, you’re a part of this website. i totally support you marching into the New York city council to demanding divestment from Israel. bring a friend with a video camera, record it for us and we can front page it. i know you can do it if you want to.

      • Boycott Israel on Campus
        July 6, 2012, 2:04 pm

        I have practiced what I preached. I have demanded resolutions to totally boycott israel many many times, in more than one city council, and in at least two student governments.

        When I ask others to do the same– with me or without me– I get a wide range of responses, ranging from warm sympathy to cold hostility. But all of those responses boil down to a simple “no”.

        I can’t complain too much about Mondoweiss, as you provide good fuel for divestment activists.

        The problem is that there are virtually no activists who will demand divestment against israel. There are many readers and no do-ers.

        The best divestment activists will beg you to shut up until they manage to craft a perfect divestment “strategy” — which never happens. Ever.

      • Annie Robbins
        July 7, 2012, 12:26 pm

        I have practiced what I preached.

        this is an online discussion, anyone can make that claim. not sure how the actions you allege to have taken amount to more than the efforts dedicated thru this website, of the many many contributors. please take a video next time so we can share your efforts with others. especially if your intent is to shame others into action, give us something we can compare it to besides your many allegations. thanks

      • Boycott Israel on Campus
        July 6, 2012, 2:13 pm

        Here is a total divestment resolution which was actually approved by the Wayne State University Student Council.

        It predates the Palestinian peoples’ call for BDS, and remains a historic example for future student governments–

        I hope you will front-page it as a good example for divestment activists. Being timid gets you nowhere.

        Total divestment, and total boycott, make a clear statement that can’t be misinterpreted.

      • Roya
        July 6, 2012, 4:46 pm

        Kudos to Wayne State! Wayne and Hampshire College make two in the U.S.–anyone else I don’t know of?

  10. Annie Robbins
    July 6, 2012, 1:31 pm

    “choice of conscience” option for Pension holders troubled by investments in Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett Packard, which would be voted on for approval at the next General Assembly.

    does anyone know when the next general assembly is?

    • Betsy
      July 6, 2012, 1:59 pm

      Annie — the General Assemblies are every other year… so it’ll be 2014. But, folks need to remember that there are also lower levels of govt — e.g., presbyteries & synods — where a lot of good organizing can take place in between…Betsy (a very disappointed Presby right now — altho the boycott vote was very strong & good)

      “The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) numbers 2.3 million members in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The church includes over 11,000 congregations and also conducts ministry through 173 district governing bodies called presbyteries and 16 regional governing bodies called synods, as well as the bi-annual General Assembly, the national policy-making and budget-setting governing body of the church. “

      • MRW
        July 6, 2012, 5:24 pm

        Key here: 11,000 congregations. The results will be announced from the pulpit this Sunday. 11,000 congregations in 50 states, the majority of which are in the heartland, Fly-By-Country, people who vote. Watch for the ‘100th Monkey Effect’.

        The most telling remark, IMO, was the minister who said something like first they accused us of being anti-semitic, then being anti-Israel, then delegitimizing Israel, but this is about our values. (He said it better.)

      • ritzl
        July 7, 2012, 4:10 am

        If you’re the Betsy that left the “Betsy” comment at APN (cited in the APN reaction post here), a heartfelt amen. What a clear and genuine comment.

        If not, then simply welcome to the discussion. Pass it on.

      • Betsy
        July 7, 2012, 11:37 am

        Yup — I’m that Betsy…but after Philip folded it into the APN ‘base’ uprising — I didn’t want to blow my cover as actually from the Mondo base…who wandered to APN from Phil’s article… but, thanks for feedback…

      • Annie Robbins
        July 7, 2012, 12:29 pm

        thanks for your response betsy. seems a long long way off. but i suppose it’s just around the corner.

  11. Les
    July 6, 2012, 3:07 pm

    boycott of settlement products; easier said than done since Israel does not label products as “made by Israeli occupiers in East Jerusalem” or “made by Israeli occupiers in the West Bank.” The only real solution is to boycott all products from Israel. Welcome to BDS.

  12. dbroncos
    July 6, 2012, 6:30 pm

    The committee chairman from Kansas City did a poor job of introducing the proposal to the assembly. If I knew nothing of these issues and only had his speech to judge what the divestment issue was about, here is what I’d understand from his speech:

    1. Israelis and Jews play an unspecified role in our deliberations. I am not here tonight to discuss in any detail or in any coherent way the role that Israelis/Jews play. Suffice it to say, however, that their feelings are not to be hurt by any one of us. I would sooner shove my grandmother down the stairs than I would knowingly, even accidentally, hurt their feelings.

    1. Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, Motorola are guilty of indelicate unpleasantries that involve turnstiles, bull dozers and cell phones. As a result we have concluded that their commitment to peace is in question. Worse yet, they cancelled our meetings and didn’t return our phone calls

    2. The guilty parties are the corporations mentioned previously but in no way should the terms ‘guilt’ or ‘responsibility’ be used in the same sentence as ‘Jews’ or ‘Israelis’. Remember, Jews are victims not victimizers.

    3. We are committed to a process in which the peace process can process itself without anyone having to hurt anyone else’s feelings.

    • Philip Weiss
      July 6, 2012, 10:33 pm

      nice reporting db

    • ritzl
      July 7, 2012, 4:29 am

      I took his description the exact opposite way. He seemed very focused and on point. Point being that these companies are complicit and refuse to be otherwise.

      You have to take into consideration that this is a church gathering. Descriptions may seem like “unpleasantries” to you, but the description provided by Ellison was that of a moral dilemna, if not anathema.

      Watching the debate here, he was (as were all the attendees from what I saw) fully aware of the “unpleasantness” of these company’s actions, as they were of debating this issue. Within the PCUSA context, Ellison chose to confront the moral imperative of that “unpleasantness” with process. Process that ultimately did not carry the day, but his words were very clear and effective within the context of a Presbyterian gathering.

      There will be a next time.

      • AllenBee
        July 7, 2012, 11:31 am

        trying to be positive and recognize the pressure placed on Presbyterians, but of all people, Christians should recall another pressure-driven decision:

        Pontius Pilate decided:
        “I wash my hand of Palestinian blood.”

      • Rusty Pipes
        July 7, 2012, 5:05 pm

        There were a few committee chairs reporting during that portion of the GA. I think that Ellison, the chair of MRTI did a great job of reporting about the long and careful process that the committee has carried out in dealing with companies over the past eight years. But he had months to consider how to make that presentation. I would have liked to have seen the work and recommendations of committee 15 framed differently for the plenary. But that chair barely had a day to pull together the report — in consideration not just of the work they had done, but also of the kind of lobbying from outside the other commissioners had experienced (including the lobbying, under cover of interfaith greeting, from Rabbi Rosenberg that morning).

    • Citizen
      July 7, 2012, 7:29 am

      db, most excellent, sharp comment! You really capture the tone, temper, of it. Imagine Zionists being like that. You can’t.

    • Kathleen
      July 7, 2012, 11:22 am

      “3. This shows that GA members support divestment in theory, but are scared for their church to recommend it, likely, I believe, due to fear of losing Jewish relationships. This is no consolation to those suffering under Israeli oppression, but it’s illustrative that people are not opposed, in principle, to divestment.” Hiding behind “pretty words”

    • dbroncos
      July 7, 2012, 9:27 pm

      Ellison’s speech was a disaster. As it turns out he needed to convince only three people to vote the other way to accomplish the Presbyterian committee’s goal of divestment, ten years in the making. He shied away from saying what needed to be said. Not surprising from a man nurtured in a protestant culture in which people are discouraged from showing natural human emotion. Hugs and kisses, jokes and smiles are strictly circumscribed among this crowd which has a pathological aversion to committing an offense. Hugs, kisses and jokes involve a measure of risk that these people want to avoid at all costs. Fear is their primary MO. Fear of rejection and fear of offending. They have no talent for or training in expressing themselves, who they really are. As a result they are strangers to each other and strangers to themselves. I didn’t buy for one second Ellison’s “Jewish brothers and sisters” jibber jabber. The climate of fear that hangs constantly over Presbyterian life indicates to me that this crowd of Christians, in another place and another era, would have been among the first to turn in their “Jewish brothers and sisters.” I speak from personal experience having grown up in the Presbyterian church, going to church every Sunday until I was 18. Happily, I broke protestant jail in 1985 and have never looked back. I ran as fast and as far as I could from this repressive culture and I’m glad I did. However, I still feel a visceral connection to these people. I understand that my own life and personality are colored by a protestant tradition. I recognize that my life has a thick, baked on crust of repression, call it stoicism, that can be chipped away but never scrubbed clean.

      In other respects, Presbyterians are solid citizens. Generally courteous, thoughtful, law abiding, middle America types who pull their own weight. If they could express their emotions and the courage of their convictions without fear they would be more respectable and their voices would have more power. But alas, asking Presbyterians to overcome their fears is like asking Jews to overcome Zionism – an uphill battle.

      Below is my version of the fearless Presbyterian speech I wish Ellison had delivered
      to the GA:

      “Let us Pray remembering the words of Jesus in John 14:27 ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.’ Amen.

      Israeli Apartheid is unjust, unworkable and unsustainable. What do we mean when we say Israeli Apartheid? Apartheid in Israel subjects Palestinian Christians and Muslims to unending violence: home demolitions and evictions, destruction of water wells, destruction of olive orchards, destruction of farms, separation walls, checkpoints, road blocks, arrest and imprisonment without charge, siege, torture, murder and war. The siege of Gaza is particularly telling. The Israeli Army employs staff members who count the number of calories entering Gaza, a place where 30% of Palestinian children are malnourished and who show signs of stunted growth. The status quo of Israeli Apartheid is completely unacceptable. A grave injustice that cannot be permitted to continue. It is incumbent on us, as Christians, to stand up and say “enough.” Our committee has been charged with seeking ways to pursue justice in Israel and Palestine. Tonight we consider a proposal to divest from three American companies doing business in Israel that destructively impacts the lives of millions of our Palestinian brothers and sisters. Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola are three American companies that provide equipment designed to make “permanent temporariness” a day to day reality among Palestinians living within the confines of an exclusive Jewish State. Ten years have passed since we first voiced our concerns to executives at Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola about the destructive impact that their products are having on the lives of millions of Palestinians. We have met with representatives from these companies on multiple occasions but to no avail. They have made it clear to us over and over that they have no intensions to change their business as usual with the State of Israel. Our unsuccessful efforts to convince these companies to change their business dealings with the State of Israel has led us to believe that divestment is the best way forward. It is after ten years of concerted effort and only as a last resort that our committee strongly recommends divestment from these three companies.

      We understand that Presbyterian congregations all over the country have enjoyed longstanding and constructive relationships with our Jewish brothers and sisters. There are many among us who have expressed a deeply heartfelt concern that criticizing the State of Israel will put those relationships in jeopardy. Our committee members share those concerns. However, the demands of justice are clear. The facts on the ground in Israel and Palestine must not be ignored in our efforts to maintain those relationships. It should be recognized that while there have been strenuous efforts made on the part of Jews who would have us abandon our divestment initiative, there are also many Jews who have joined with us, shoulder to shoulder, in our efforts to shine a light on Israeli Apartheid with the ultimate goal of putting an end to it. The brave Jews who are standing with us, squarely on the side of justice, present us with an opportunity to forge a new kind of inter-faith commitment to justice, love, and compassion. Indeed, our divestment initiative presents us with an opportunity to extend a warm handshake of friendship to both Jews and Muslims alike who share our vision of a more just and peaceful world.

      On behalf of our committee I will ask my fellow Christians here tonight for their vote in favor of divestment in the spirit of Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.”

    • Betsy
      July 8, 2012, 11:20 am

      @ Brother or Sister dbroncos: sending you a hug — Presby to (lapsed) Presby! I hear you — I just quit just such a church as you describe. But, I am seeking another & what you describe is not the Presbyterianism in which I was raised — which is that strand which goes back to the Christian Socialism of last 150 years (Norman Thomas was key influence in my family) plus pacifism. MY POINT? there are many strands & lots of historical flux & shifts — e.g., what Presbyterianism “is” (or Judaism or Wicca or whatever)– is shape-shifting, many textured — affected by tectonic shifts in economic class macrostructures, cultural status hierarchies, spiritual hungers & joys, war, ethnic violence, plus the organizational forms of faith communities, etc.. PC(USA) is complicated & variagated (sp?) and stretches across something like 11,000 congregations in all parts of the country, which are changing alot over time. My experience growing up in Presbyterianism was actually quite joyous, full of adventure & exploration, & one in which the cultivation of courage — both spiritual & political — was central (almost to a fault — I needed to spend my 20s as a slacker & often & happily drunk) to get some balance between courage & risk vs. self-protection & indulgence.

      MY CONCERN? American consciousness & political culture are drowning in corporate media & high paid political PR campaigns that are smashing public capacity to attend to the subtleties of such complexity. The danger is that in response to this corruption & stink of our common national culture — that people will flee into ‘ethnicity’ — e.g., it’s a very typical pattern that people fall into stereotyped, abstract, sentimentalized categories of ethnicity. I fear that we’re in a time of economic & cultural chaos that is ripe for escapist flights into the simplicities of ethnicity. Also, we lose the capacity to speak & reason with people who are different from us —

      One of the radical simplifications that has happened in recent decades (in our national political culture)– is how the once strong strand of ‘social justice’ or ‘Left’ or Liberation Christianity has been invisibilized (better word anyone?). I have been concerned that some commentators on this site have been doing that to Presbyterianism. Shouldn’t we pay attention to the specificity of experience & organizational structure & history? If we can develop ways to listen to such complexity — especially where heart & mind weave our politics together with critical reflection on our family, ‘ethnic’, religious, class, place life experiences — isn’t that the best way to overcome our current drift into a surreal, corporate, mass, ‘friendly fascism’ [as Bertram Gross said so well] (one with very ugly ethnic, racial inflections]. What I’d like to say at this point is way too much to say here — so, I’ll leave it at that.

      @ Rusty Pipes & @ Ritzl & @ dbroncos — thank you for doing just that —

  13. Fredblogs
    July 6, 2012, 7:54 pm

    So to sum up, they rejected the call for divestment, they rejected by a large margin a call to conflate Israel with Apartheid, and the only thing where your side won was a boycott of settlement goods? Were they buying a lot of settlement goods to begin with? As for the “choice of conscience”, does that mean individuals can opt out of having their own pensions invested in those three companies, if they so choose? If so, that sounds to me like the church is mostly against divestment, but are willing to accommodate people who are for it. It will be interesting to see what percentage opt out.

    • seafoid
      July 7, 2012, 4:51 am

      Nice try, Fred

      I’ll save this comment of yours and feed it back to you when Oren makes his next speech about Israel losing the goys.

    • Betsy
      July 7, 2012, 10:12 am

      I am a Presbyterian who is deeply disappointed by the General Assembly vote & will work hard to get a different result in 2014.

      But, I think you are mischaracterising what this vote is & what it means. In trying to interpret it I AM NOT DEFENDING IT. Rather, this is an attempt to ‘bear witness’ (as we Presbys like to say) to a troubled & troubling spiritual struggle — that is taking place in multiple levels & contexts. I’m afraid this is going to be a bit long & if you don’t want to hear theological reflection — please ignore.

      “The Presbyterian church” is not a monolithic hierarchy — rather it is a deeply democratic intersection of many conversations & networks — each level & unit (congregations, synods, etc.) debates, tries to discern & then votes. Central to this is the belief that God speaks through & to this ‘vox populi’ — and that God is always speaking *anew* — the church is not ‘fundamentalist’ because there is a belief that God is always speaking in the here & now & that listening to this new Word, requires both personal AND COLLECTIVE discernment — this is the essence of “Reformed” tradition (read Cornel West on this) — “Reformed & always Reforming”, incomplete, but at any one moment needing to take a definite stand — with the understanding the God is very unpredictable & can’t be put into a box or predefined. Within one congregation, this means that individuals are *required* to speak out if they feel God is demanding them to speak against injustice — which is why I believe many Presbys feel close to social justice Judaism — because the prophets are read & reread as exemplars of ‘lonely voices’ speaking Truth to Power. But, on the other hand, this is (in a sort of unAmerican way) also very collectivist. Votes are about the most sacred & mystical moments in Presby life! I know that the livestreaming of General Assembly must have perplexed non-Presbys — a process about as exciting as stalactites forming! But, for us, this is high drama. It is (we pray) God speaking thro the people assembled…God is very unpredictable — & people often mishear…So, waiting for the outcome is, for us, simultaneously like standing before Jehovah & watching a possible car crash…

      The real problem in PC(USA) [that is the non-fundamentalist & Reformed Presby church] is that individual congregations & synods are bound (theologically) to be in conversation & fellowship across differing beliefs — both within the congregation & with other faith communities. Presbyterianism includes folks from politically conservative lifeways who are immersed in the ignorance & denial of the facts of Middle East history & US imperialism that is typical of ordinary Americans. Those of us who are strongly ‘social justice’ types need to try to expand the facts & experience — we can’t move ahead as individuals — we need to work to transform the whole body of the church. I think that this has mostly happened *within* congregations — the respected & well read leaders have anguished over this for decades (helped by the very deep historical experience of the church in working with Middle Eastern Christians) — and have already moved way beyond Christian Zionism.

      But, congregations also operate within spiritual ecologies that include very strong interfaith networks & projects — I think the biggest reason for the vote two days ago re/ divestment — is that individual Commissioners were thinking about the interfaith networks to which they would return in their home communities. They do not yet feel that they have found a way to vote — as a collective body — for divestment — when their Jewish friends & co-workers in many interfaith projects & networks are saying such negative things about all this & about them personally. I personally think this is the besetting weakness of Presbyterians — an almost obsessive need to “not hurt anyone’s feelings” (as Dbroncos amusingly says) and to do things in an “orderly” fashion. It infuriates me personally. But, I also understand it. Presbyterians have been very hurt by what most official Jewish organizations have been saying about them. *All of this is very local*. They need to find a way to build new platforms for local & regional interfaith conversation — to heal what feels like a painful breach. I’m indignant that they aren’t focusing more on relations with Middle Eastern communities (Muslim & Christian) than on synagogues next door. But, it is what it is. That’s why I think that it is very important to organize locally on this — to prepare for the 2014 GA. The anti-Zionist Jewish communities & networks could be of immense help in this!

      I am sure that the great majority of individuals will opt to divest from Caterpillar et al — in that sense, “the church” has already moved on. I come from Baltimore, like Philip Weiss. I think back to very specific moments & gatherings (as he does) when ‘social justice’ people of faith (Quaker, Catholic, Jewish, and now increasingly, Muslim, etc.) came together in Baltimore to work on very specific things (I also remember being part of devastated gatherings after Norman Morrison self-immolated — as people came together from all across town — he taught my class on the Old Testament). It is the specificity & localness of these moments & networks that we need to pay attention to. This is not an abstract, national challenge (only). It is also a struggle that is embedded in local, concrete lifeways. THAT IS WHY THIS IS AN IMPORTANT VOTE — these Commissioners are going back to 11,000 congregations all across the country — it’s not so much that it will be “announced from the pulpit” that’s important, given the democratic, communalistic nature of the church — it’s more important that this is now an inflamed & painful division within the mystical body of the church — that individuals will be struggling to overcome in conversation, prayer & study groups. So, it’s very important to try to get more facts, history & voices flowing. Sorry for the length of this! But, it’s important for people to look beyond the national level.


      • American
        July 7, 2012, 1:18 pm

        “I personally think this is the besetting weakness of Presbyterians — an almost obsessive need to “not hurt anyone’s feelings”..Betsy

        The essence for the Presbyterian members is simple…..either choose the teachings of God/Jesus social justice or choose not offending the Jews.
        It’s a choice….choose one or the other.
        No one with any kind of beliefs at all gets out of life without having to make choices.
        The problem in issues like this is it suffers from the same “process disease” as politics, where everything is a ‘process’ in which the wrong gets accommodated with the right and therefore never produces a cure for the problem or a answer to the question.

      • Fredblogs
        July 12, 2012, 4:25 pm

        The nice thing about God is that he’s always on your side. Whichever side you happen to be on. Please try to make arguments that work without saying “God is on our side”, because that argument works exactly as well for all sides. It all cancels out.

      • Citizen
        July 7, 2012, 1:46 pm

        Betsy, thanks for the explanation. So, if there were as many and as wealthy and influential Palestinian Americans as there are Zionist Jewish Americans in the near vicinity of your religious group, here in the USA, BDS would be a slam dunk? Truman basically said the same thing when he was asked why he jumped to the Zionists beck and call back in 1948 (even while writing in his diary his disappointment that the Zionist jews were as quick as any segment of humanity to jump from underdog to uberdog when they got the power). What does your church say about the USS Liberty incident? Ike’s pulling Israel away from Egypt? Israel’s nukes? Pollard? OP Cast Lead? US aid to Israel?
        Have they agreed on anything in these matters? The Palestinians must truck on daily in their misery while your church ponders.

      • Betsy
        July 7, 2012, 3:37 pm

        Citizen — I didn’t say what you’re saying I said. The Presbyterian Church as a collective body has repeatedly condemned US military aid to Israel (because of human rights abuses by Israel), plus condemnations of Israel for the settlements, the Occupation since 1967, displacement & land grabs, the Wall, the colonizing of water, systematic discrimination / violence against Palestinians, Cast Lead, Zionist theology, the Nakba, etc….. The disagreement right now is what ACTIONS to take against all this…The church is deeply divided on that question (partly because it includes people from diverse backgrounds, including some politically conservative folks in politically conservative communities). But, the church is doing much more than ‘pondering’ — there are multiple action efforts going on. PC(USA) has close connections to Palestinian Christian (going back two centuries) & Muslim groups both in Middle East & in US. It has been badly attacked by mainstream, organized Jewish groups over past decade. I did not say (as you did) that it is the wealth & influence of Zionist Jewish Americans that militates against BDS choice. I said that decades of work between PC(USA) congregations & neighboring synagogues — on social justice issues — made it a real shock to be attacked by mainstream Jewish groups as we have been. It’s been a valued relationship…I was bitterly disappointed by the divestment vote by GA — but the church is in a country that is very ignorant about the Middle East — so it is a slower transformation than I would like. If PC(USA) had right now the power that Truman had back then — you would see a wildly different Middle East policy! Plus massive disarmament all around…

      • ritzl
        July 7, 2012, 5:12 pm

        @Betsy Well said.

      • Citizen
        July 8, 2012, 6:54 am

        Betsy, thanks for your attempts to explain why your church concedes so much that is wrong, but takes decades to reach the slightest consensus on a few small things to DO about the aggregate of what is recognized as wrong. Much of what you say is echoed in this abstract 2003 analysis of Presbyterian America’s conflicted culture and/or strains of it, as it were:
        Very notable is a mirror of America generally re conservative versus liberal, traditionalist/reactionary versus activist/socialist/progressive; in short antiPC v PC, anti-v feminist, etc. Any mediocre Zionist rabbi has much to play with in this split of petri-dish feelings among the hard-working, good citizen, middle-American-inspired Presbyterians–sly suggestions and comments can penetrate without the staid Presby even being aware of it. “My isn’t Rabbi X colorful!”

        American Gothic meets Richard Lewis cum Joe Lieberman

      • Rusty Pipes
        July 8, 2012, 7:43 pm

        Presbyterians can be a pretty contentious bunch. Over the centuries in America, different strands of Presbyterians have united and divided over issues of theology and biblical interpretation (fundamentalist-modernist controversy), clergy standards (whether frontier pastors had to study Greek and Hebrew or whether women could be ordained), and social justice (slavery). The Church which just held its GA is the largest American Presbyterian body, the PC(USA). The study for the Church at your link is for a fundamentalist Presbyterian body, the PCA, which split from the former Southern Church (After the northern and southern Presbyterian churches had split over slavery, they finally got back together 120 years later after the PCA faction split from the rest of the Southern Church). The PCA is so conservative, they not only won’t ordain women to anything, they won’t even let laywomen teach a Bible Study class where men are present.

        The PC(USA) has plenty of challenges of its own. But it’s not the PCA.

      • Rusty Pipes
        July 8, 2012, 8:13 pm

        The National Council of Churches and mainline churches –especially the PC(USA), The United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church in America — have been under sustained attack from organized right-wing groups like the IRD (the Institute for Religion and Democracy) for 30 years because of the mainline Churches’ involvement in major social justice movements, like opposition to the Reagan administration’s policies in Central America. The IRD has focused much of its organizing and disinformation campaigns against connectional churches. Other denominations with congregational structures, like the UCC, have seen moderate congregations taken over by conservatives and then “steeplejacked” out of the denomination.

        The blog, Talk to Action, has covered the right-wing attack on mainline churches for several years. By convincing conservative congregations to leave a denomination or to withhold their apportionment to the Church, the larger Church has less money to fund its social justice programs — and increasingly less money to function effectively in many areas nationally and internationally.

      • dbroncos
        July 7, 2012, 3:22 pm


        My complaints about the chairman’s speech aren’t limited to his message. His speech was the last chance he had to sell the divestment committee’s recommendation to divest to the GA before the vote. It needed to be a barnburner of a speech about ethnic cleansing, racism, bigotry – he needed to look his audience in the eye and ask “are you on the side of justice?” Instead he delivered a statisticians summary of infractions by Motorola, Caterpillar, and Hewlett Packard. I aknowledge that Presbyterian I/P activism has been around for a long time. The two vote margin of defeat speaks of how close they are to divestment. What will get them over the top next time? If the divesment committee plans to bring this to another vote in two years
        they better make a better appeal from the podium just before the vote. Presbyterians may be challenged by a speech with emotional appeal but if it’s well written and well delivered it will win a lot more votes than the staid, stultified approach by the man from Kansas City.

      • Betsy
        July 7, 2012, 4:11 pm

        I think you make really good points. I didn’t attend this GA, but at least from a distance — it seems very likely that something about the ‘process’ went wrong (in the whole debate structure, not just the committee report). Many people expected divestment to pass — but it felt like the debate went askew & pushed in directions not expected. The collective gasp when the vote went up — was audible on livestream even. So, this is definitely something to work on…GAs are complicated & there have been endless (often highly emotional) meetings, forums, study groups, trips, readings re/ P/I issues — but the knowledge is patchy — some folks have made amazing leaps in understanding & courage — others are still struggling to break out of usual mainstream US stupor & ignorance — I’m told that there were some fantastic break out sessions & workshops on P/I before the vote — but probably the people who needed to be there, weren’t.

        That said, Presbyterians sometimes LIKE staid cultural styles — so sometimes that approach is just what more conservative Presbys find persuasive! (this cultural tendency seems to spring up in Presby churches all over the world — I think it might be because of all the committees, meetings, self governance, peer conflict resolution).

        So, much to be done before GA 221 in 2014!! My main point is that much of the work is local — & I hope it can be interfaith!

      • Rusty Pipes
        July 7, 2012, 6:43 pm

        A barnburner speech in the context of a committee report would have sunk it. There are other, more appropriate times during the GA for “barnburner speeches” — at previous GA’s, sermons about the prophetic call have made a difference in the attitudes and voting of commissioners. The PC(USA) is a diverse denomination with many constituencies. Committee 15’s proposals on their own merits would have support among many of the liberal commissioners and opposition among many of the conservative commissioners. The commissioners who were most open to persuasion were the moderate and uninformed. The members of committee 15 were a fair cross-section of the commissioners at the GA. The overwhelming support of the members of committee 15 for the MRTI report shows that when the uninformed are educated and when the moderates can be persuaded that some compromises are just and others aren’t, then the Church can act in accordance with its principles. Unfortunately, the plenary did not respect the very hard work of either MRTI or committee 15 (which worked long into the night, way after their committees had gone out to dinner).

  14. Avi_G.
    July 6, 2012, 8:11 pm

    The Presbyterian church’s decision is akin to rearranging the deck chair on the Titanic.

    I was reading up about the disconnect that alienated Alfred Hitchcock when he moved from Britain to the United States in the early 1940s.

    While British people were well aware of Hitler’s threat, Hitchcock observed that Americans were unaware and practically clueless about the goings-on in Europe. Furthermore, the U.S. Congress passed the American Neutrality Act in the 1930s with the intention of keeping America out of foreign wars.

    This encouraged Hitchcock to work on several film projects that were outright propaganda. He wanted to push Americans to become more aware of the impending dangers facing his home country, Britain, in particular, and Europe, in general.

    For example, mere days before the last scene of the movie was about to be shot, the script for Foreign Correspondent was changed to reflect new developments in Europe, and so it read:

    “Hello America, I have been watching part of the world be blown to pieces … I’ve seen things that make the history of the savages read like Pollyanna legends…. [Overheard: the noise of bombs dropping and the broadcast booth goes dark.] I can’t read the rest of this speech I had because the lights have gone out. I’ll just have to talk off the cuff. All that noise you hear is not static. It’s death coming to London. Yes, they’re coming here now. You can hear the bombs falling on the streets and the homes. Don’t tune me out. Hang on awhile. This is a big story and you’re a part of it … It’s too late to do anything here now except stand in the dark and let them come. It’s as if the lights were all out everywhere except in America. Keep those lights burning! … Hello America. Hang onto your lights. You’re the only lights left in the world.”

    Five days later, Germany was dropping bombs on London.

    The movie opens with:

    “To those intrepid ones who went across the seas to be the eyes and ears of America. To those forthright ones who early saw the clouds of war while many of us at home were seeing rainbows. To those clearheaded ones who now stand like recording angels among the dead and dying. To those foreign correspondents this motion picture is dedicated.”

    There is no need to dedicate a propaganda film to any Palestine solidarity activists, “To those intrepid ones who went across the seas to be the eyes and ears of America”, but at the very least,
    heed their warning. Or, better yet, go yourself and see what it is like to be a Palestinians living under occupation. Enough dilly dallying.

  15. Refaat
    July 6, 2012, 8:58 pm

    One small step for Palestine, one giant leap for humanity.

  16. dbroncos
    July 7, 2012, 12:13 am

    The Presby divesment initiative as it was presented to the GA made no sense. The burden of proof was foisted almost entirely on Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard, and Motorola as if they were the criminals rather than accessories to the crime. The committee chairman who introduced the proposal only mentioned Israeli occupation and Israeli settlements once or twice and he referred to them in neutral terms – “the occupation” and “the settlements.” Nothing in the way of explanation, in visceral terms, of what constitutes Israeli guilt or responsibility. He spent nearly all of his time discussing deliberations about and with Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola who, he explained nonsensically, were guilty of infractions against peace(?).
    He waned everyone to understand that Cat bulldozers are a threat to peace but made no mention of who drives them or of the Palestinians and their wrecked homes. In the end, the chairman neglected to tell the assmbly what it is they are trying to accomplish with divestment: put an end to Israeli Apartheid. Without this over arching theme the singling out of 3 companies who had offended ‘peace’ was very vague and arbitrary. Because he was so cryptic about telling his audience what divestment was about he ended up making no sense.

    • Betsy
      July 7, 2012, 11:34 am

      The statements you’re responding to — were the tip of the iceberg. There has been over a decade of intensive study & debate within the church — which has focused directly on the Occupation & the situation of Palestinians. The PC(USA) has made multiple pronouncements from 1948 on which have condemned the injustices towards Palestinians & this has gotten more urgent in last decade with repeated condemnations of Occupation. NOBODY MUCH LISTENS TO THAT! The media focuses so much on right wing Christianity. Unless the church does something “controversial” — our strong social justice stands are ignored. There has been a struggle to find some ‘actions’ which can begin to impact the situation. The attempt to boycott US corporations profitting from Occupation is just one among other actions. The reason that all this wasn’t explained from podium is that it was contained in multiple background documents & the GA had a bazillion resolutions to discuss ranging from questions of gay marriage to spanking children. The Commissioners are volunteers from congregations who have to read lots of background documents & participate in webinars — the substance of PC(USA) stance on Middle East is exhaustively covered in these. If it would be helpful, I could write a Mondoweiss summary of this, I suppose.

      Here are a few key documents:

      * Kairos Palestine Document and A Study Guide for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
      [This study guide was written by the Middle East Monitoring Group thatwas mandated by the 219th General Assembly (2010)]

      *”Resolution on Israel and Palestine: End the Occupation Now”

      * “Breaking Down the Walls — From the Middle East Study Committee”

      Here’s the 2010 condemnation of US military aid to Israel:

      “• “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt. 5:9).

      Since WWII, Israel has received more direct aid from the United States than any other country—and since 1965, nearly $3 billion annually in aid. In a 2007 agreement, the U.S. pledged to provide military aid totaling $30 billion over the next ten years (Ref. 1). Taxpayers would expect that the recipient of such generous amounts would have a solid international presence and would be in alliance with U.S. foreign policy; however, this is not the case. This overture calls into serious question the wisdom of such a financial arrangement by virtue of Israel’s pattern of human rights violations, its use of U.S. weapons against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and its disregard of U.S. foreign policy.

      The current Congress and administration should be urged to correct its foreign aid disbursement policy and to send a message to both parties that funds from U.S. taxpayers are not to be used for any activity which violates human rights or impedes peace. Rather than sending a mixed message to Israel and the world that exceptions are tolerated, conditions should be placed on any aid allocations until that country’s policy conforms.

      The State of Israel has been cited by several organizations including the United Nations, B’Tselem (an Israeli organization), Amnesty International, and the Human Rights Watch—as engaging in human rights violations. U.S. weapons have been used to kill and injure Palestinian civilians and to destroy Palestinian infrastructure: specific violations include the use of cluster bombs in Lebanon in 2006, and the use of white phosphorous in the 2009 Gaza incursion (Refs. 6 and 7, also , ). Israel’s access to U.S. military aid enhances its capacity to commit human rights abuses (, statistics updated Dec 3, 2009).”

      • Rusty Pipes
        July 8, 2012, 8:26 pm

        Exactly, the commissioners had all of that info, including the letter from Sam Bahour clearly stating from a Palestinian perspective why “positive investment” was no substitute for divestment. They saw the missionary advisors who voted 100% in support of committee 15 on the recommendation — missionaries (who work with partner churches in all parts of the world, where we claim that we respect the needs of indigenous Churches for how we spend our funds there) are well aware of how the Church’s paternalistic treatment of partners in Palestinian Churches will be perceived in other countries. They had that information and more — but in the end, enough moderates were swayed by outside pressure (including Rabbi Rosenberg’s speech) that the measure narrowly lost.

  17. HarryLaw
    July 7, 2012, 6:08 am

    dbroncos, Question to opponents of divestment, do you know your money is aiding and abetting grave war crimes as set out in customary International Law, and if you know that and still refuse to divest then I think you are barely human, never mind what you profess to be, you are either confused or hypocrites or both, I would like to give vent to my true feelings, but they would be banned .

  18. Boycott Israel on Campus
    July 7, 2012, 9:43 am


    OK, here is a City Council campaign for divestment from Israel that you can front-page, as you have promised. Two videos:

    1. “Boycotting ‘Israel’ to Death — at Ann Arbor City Council”, on YouTube at:


    2. “Ann Arbor City Council — Gag Rule attempted, following campaign for sanctions against Israel”, on YouTube at:


    There are thousands of other City Councils where you can try the same thing.

    Do it your way– but do it.

  19. CloakAndDagger
    July 7, 2012, 12:34 pm

    @ Boycott Israel on Campus

    Do you win a lot of friends and influence people with your abrasive style? I, for one, am pretty turned off by you. I bet I am not alone.

  20. Boycott Israel on Campus
    July 7, 2012, 5:01 pm

    I think that Annie sees the wisdom of launching boycott campaigns… in many City Councils, and in many student governments.

    So I hope she will keep her promise to front-page the City Council boycott-Israel videos.

    I hope she will also front-page the Wayne State divestment victory article. For the same reason.

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