Lessons from Birmingham

Divesters suffer defeat at Presbyterian assembly.

The Protestant anti-Israel divestment campaign suffered a major setback at the biennial General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA in Birmingham, Alabama, in June, but the battle now moves northward, as the United Church of Canada is poised to pass an Israel boycott measure at its annual conference this month. The divestment debate in Birmingham was "a battle for the soul of the Presbyterian church," according to one pastor in attendance. In the end, the PC-USA voted 483 to 28 to replace its 2004 resolution calling for "phased, selective divestment" with a policy of "corporate engagement" that would restrict investment in Israel and the Palestinian areas to peaceful pursuits.