Numerous Jewish organizations have denounced the actions of the Presbyterian Church (USA) following its Friday vote to divest from companies that do business with Israel in the West Bank.
Spokespeople from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith, Union for Reform Judaism, and the American Jewish Committee have released statements expressing their disappointment and anger toward the church’s “hypocritical” decision.
“An American church punishes the sole Middle East democracy for the sin of safeguarding its security, while some of its Palestinian neighbors pass out sweets to celebrate the abduction of Israeli teenagers,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center in a statement.
“PCUSA chooses to flex its moral muscles by aiding and abetting those pledged to do away with the Jewish state,” he added.
Though the Presbyterian Church has maintained that it is not in support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, Jewish agencies agree that the divestment is in clear alignment with the BDS movement.
“It is not possible to single out companies doing business with Israel for divestment and not be complicit in the BDS orbit,” B’nai B’rith stated.
This is not the first time that the Presbyterian Church and the Jewish world have experienced a strain in their relationship. The AJC says the divestment is just one incident of “demonizing Israel,” citing “one-sided reports and study guides, such as Zionism Unsettled,” as proof of anti-Israel sentiments.
Jewish leaders have expressed their hope that the action by the church’s General Assembly is not representative of the values and perspectives of the majority of American Christians, with whom Israel shares a generally positive relationship.
“We urge the majority of Presbyterian clergy and lay leaders who, we believe, reject the approach of the national denomination in supporting BDS, to let themselves now be heard,” said Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism. “We need to be working together on this vital issue.”