On June 20th, 2014, the Presbyterian Church passed a resolution by a slim 310 to 303 vote to divest in Caterpillar, Hewlett- Packard and Motorola solutions to try and stop the Israeli government from continuing to build settlements and “occupying” Palestinian citizens in the disputed territories. This decision came as a surprise to many in the Jewish and Christian communities as it is very similar to the B.D.S. movement, which tries to boycott, divest, sanction against the Jewish State of Israel. The B.D.S. movement has been wildly successful in Europe while having little success on college campuses. In fact only 2 college campuses have passed a divestment bill against companies that help the State of Israel “occupy” the Palestinians in the disputed territories. Not only is the B.D.S. movement anti-Semitic and anti-Israel, it demonizes and puts a double standard on Israel. This also does not help with negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis. In an article written by the New York Times on the issue, Heath Rada, the church’s moderator, who was leading the proceedings, said immediately after the electronic vote count was posted, “In no way is this a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish sisters and brothers.” If this action to pass a resolution of boycotting Israel a continuation of love for the Jewish people then I do not know how they would define any hate towards the Jewish people because it sure seems to me that it is a contradiction of human values. Maybe they could adopt a doctrine that states “We will extend our hatred towards our Jewish brothers and sisters by not boycotting companies that help the Israeli economy flourish while abiding by international law.” The Presbyterian Church has always shown their dislike for Zionism and the right of the Jewish people to have self determination and the return to the land of Israel that the Jewish people have not had control over in more than 2000 years. In 2004, the Church’s General Assembly met and voted for a resolution that would start to selectively divest from multinational corporations that were operating in Israel. The Church also stated 10 years ago “”divestment is one of the strategies that U.S. churches used in the 1970s and 80s in a successful campaign to end apartheid in the south.” The statement by the church 10 years ago and then their resulting action 10 years later speak volumes about how church singles out Israel as the problem for “occupation”, “apartheid” and how peace negotiations have not been successful. My maternal grandparents were born and lived in Baghdad, Iraq during the early 20th century. They lived during the reign of King Faisal II, who was a very friendly towards many groups of people, including the Jews. In the late 1950’s, he was overthrown in the revolution when my grandparents were stripped of all of their belongings except for the clothes on their back and were forced to emigrate from Iraq. They fled to the state of Israel where they could escape the violence occurring in Iraq. Had there not been a state of Israel to which they could flee, my grandparents would not be free citizens like they are today. As a fully-fledged Zionist, I feel that Jewish people have the right to self- determination and the right to have the land that they had control of 2000 years ago. It is totally unacceptable in my opinion to delegitimize the state of Israel as a nation state for Jewish, Arab, Christian and other peoples who want to live peacefully side by side with each other. Everyday, new stations such as BBC, and the UN are presenting the world a biased perspective on the Middle East. They point fingers at Israel when anything goes wrong and blame Israel for most of the instability that is so commonly connected with the Middle East. There are numerous double standards directed at Israel, one of them is the belief that Israel is an apartheid state just like South Africa was prior to the rule of Nelson Mandela. 20% of the population in Israel is Arab and they have the same rights as Jews and Christians living in Israel. There are gay parades in Israel resembling the diversity of people in Israel. Also, Israeli doctors treated Mahmoud Abbas’ wife when she was sick, showing that Israel is even kind enough to help out the enemy. Lastly, with the hundreds of thousands of rockets directed and launched at Israel every year by Hamas, and Hezbollah, Fatah and other terrorist organizations creating havoc for Israelis to live normal lives, the Presbyterian Church thinks it is helping peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and the “occupation” of Palestinians in the disputed territories with boycotts and divestment against Israel. They are not helping the cause; they are simply making the problem worse and for Israel’s sake it would be best to help their economy instead of hinder it like boycotting and divestment. This decision came as a surprise to most Jewish organizations, but if the church continues to make these kinds of decisions then they should not be surprised to see what already has been a dwindling amount of supporters behind them.
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