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Presbyterians Back Anti-Israel Divestment

"Presbyterians have endorsed conflict over reconciliation." -- IRD President Mark Tooley

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@theird.org

WASHINGTON, June 20, 2014 /Christian Newswire/ -- Presbyterian commissioners have voted to divest the 1.76 million-member denomination from three companies that do business with Israel. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly passed a heavily amended policy statement on the Middle East by a 310-303 vote.

The report adopted by the PCUSA General Assembly requires church agencies to divest themselves of holdings in Motorola Solutions, Hewlett Packard and Caterpillar, which all sell non-lethal equipment to the Israeli military.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) previously adopted a policy of divestment in 2004, reversing itself two years later in the face of strong criticism from both within and outside of the denomination.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

    "Presbyterians have endorsed conflict over reconciliation.

    "Key PCUSA elites are pro-Palestinian activists who portray Israel as the source of nearly all evil in the Middle East.

    "Those church activists ignore that much of the Middle East is under the sway of non-democratic movements that oppress their own people and refuse to recognize Israel, a lonely democracy, as the Jewish homeland. Enemies of Israel are also largely the enemies of the United States, the West, democracy and Christian minorities in the region.

    "It is revealing that Israel is the only country targeted for divestment, not countries that oppress, torture and execute dissidents, like Iran among many others.

    "Presbyterians could genuinely advocate reconciliation and justice. Instead, they've endorsed the Palestinian nationalist narrative of victimhood and demonized Israel.

    "This denomination's official silence about Syria, Egypt and bombings in Kenya and Nigeria, and zealous preoccupation with Israel's transgressions, real or perceived, undermines their pretensions to any serious public policy witness.

    "Hopefully public pressure, internal and external, with common sense, will again persuade Presbyterians, as in 2006, to revoke their anti-Israel divestment crusade."