Better Together provides a space to share experiences with – and strategies for engaging – three critical global issues that PC(USA) global partners are challenging us to address together as the body of Christ. These three issues are 1) addressing root causes of poverty, especially as it impacts women and children; 2) sharing the Good News of God’s love in Jesus Christ; and 3) working for reconciliation in cultures of violence, including our own. The purpose of Better Together is to feed a conversation to shape concrete action strategies at the October 2012 “Dallas II: Better Together” consultation and beyond.
Below is a reflection from Doug Dicks on the discussion of divestment and boycott, especially regarding the Israel-Palestine violence. Please read it and consider it as we engage in the process of creating strategies to address the CGI of Peacemaking.
"The dust has just begun to settle following the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), convening its bi-annual meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in late June/early July, 2012.
Or has it?
Passionate voices testified before Committee 15 – the Assembly Committee on Middle East Peacemaking issues, both for and against divestment.
Presbyterians, as well as outside voices from Jewish Voice for Peace, The Simon Wiesenthal Institute, Palestinian-Americans, Jewish Americans, The Jewish Council on Public Affairs (JCPA), Israeli Jews and others testified before Committee 15.
Resolution 15-11 – the resolution before the assembly to divest from three companies doing business in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories – Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard – was defeated on the plenary floor by a vote of 333 against, 331 in favor, and 2 abstentions.
However, and according to at least one Palestinian source, the problem, “as he sees it”, is that both sides differ in the depth of their understanding of the situation “on the ground”.
Now that divestment has been defeated, at least for the next two years, and boycott is on the table, expect both sides of this divided vote to become even more entrenched.
Conscientious Israelis have, for some time now, been selectively boycotting products made in West Bank settlements. That is, they can choose to buy, or not to buy, those items which they deem to be contributing to the illegal occupation of the West Bank.
By passing Resolution 15-02, as amended, a blanket boycott of any and all products made in or produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank has now been sanctioned.
On June 11, 2011, the Israeli Knesset “adopted” a law making the settlement products boycott campaign illegal, punishable with huge compensation claims from each and every company.
Would not a move to divest our own church funds, which are, indeed, invested in those three companies, have been a much more appropriate way to “put our money where our mouths are”? If, after eight years of “corporate engagement”, the church now rejects the work of the Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) committee, and refuses to divest, has justice been done?
Micah 6:8 implores us to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly” with our God. And in His “sermon on the mount”, Christ blessed the peacemakers, “for they shall be called Sons of God”.
According to one report, the deliberations of the Middle East Peacemaking committee lasted more than ten hours, and “included a sincere and often times difficult discussion about what it meant to them to stand with the oppressed, to withstand accusatory bullying, and to vote according to their consciences.”
Being the church in the world is tough business! No one says or claims that it is easy. Peacemaking can also be tough work, especially when we differ on just how we, as a church, might contribute to a culture of peace in Israel and in Palestine.
See www.whoprofits.org and http://www.meretzusa.org/boycott-these-settlement-products-sold-us for clarification on the issue of boycotting specific products made or grown in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
To divest and/or to boycott?
That WAS the question. The 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) seems to have laid that to rest, at least for the moment, with the passage of Item 15-02. The ‘Pandora’s box’ of boycott has now been opened.
That being said, one can reasonably expect the issue of boycott to reappear at the 221st General Assembly in 2014."