Last Friday the Presbyterian Church in the USA voted to divest from three companies deemed to profit from “Israeli occupation”.
The motion passed by an exceptionally narrow margin (310-303) and will mean around $21 million worth of funds will be diverted away from Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard.
Speaking immediately after the vote, moderator for the church meeting, Heath Rada said that the decision was, “in no way…a reflection of our lack of love for our Jewish brothers and sisters”.
It is unlikely the Jewish community will believe Mr Rada’s words. And why should they? History is full of Christians showing a lack of love toward their Jewish brothers and sisters, in everything from Martin Luther’s anti-Semitic leaflet “On The Jews And Their Lies” to the silence among most Christian leaders during the Holocaust.
Divestment may not be as extreme as these horrific examples, but needless to say the motion will do nothing to improve relations between Jews and Christians.
Divestment in this case has masqueraded itself as being part of a ‘peaceful pro-justice initiative’. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth as an extremist movement known as BDS has backed the Church’s decision.
BDS stands for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. Its leaders have stated that the movement’s goal is the end of Israel entirely, and they reject a two state solution (Omar Bargouti, John Spritzler, Ahmed Moor). Even the notoriously pro Palestinian academic Norman Finklestein has admitted BDS is a “cult” with a “large segment” that wants to “eliminate Israel”.
The idea of boycotting everything Israel produces is near impossible for the 21st Century Westerner. Instant messaging, voicemail technology and even SIM cards were developed in Israel. Boycotting Israel means never using Google (they have offices in Israel). After boycotting Google, you’ll have to burn your mobile phone and laptop.
The Presbyterian Church must realise that by listening to the BDS movement they are supporting a movement who are anti Israel and more importantly anti peace. It’s a cause that often seems to care more about the destruction of Israel than the wellbeing of Palestinians.
What crimes have these three companies committed which warrant divestment? Caterpillar sells bulldozers to the US who then pass them on to Israel. Caterpillar itself does not and never has sold anything to Israel. To repeat, Caterpillar has sold a grand total total of zero bulldozers to Israel. Not only does Caterpillar have no say in how its vehicles are resold, but legally the company cannot turn down the US military as a client. Divestment in this case is completely nonsensical. EDIT: update from Elder of Ziyon.
What about Motorola? The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) buys the company’s communication technologies. This is the same IDF that the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan Col. Richard Kemp praised for doing “more to safeguard the rights of civilians in the combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare”.
Finally we turn to Hewlett Packard who supplies biometric scanners at Israeli checkpoints. These airport security style checkpoints exist to prevent terrorist attacks. It’s ironic that the reason HP got involved was because the Palestinians often complain passing through checkpoints can take hours. HP’s answer was to design technology that would speed up the process without endangering lives. That’s right, HP are helping the Palestinians. Yet the Presbyterians think they’re doing the Palestinians a favour by divesting from this technology.
The Presbyterian Church has taken a long time to reach their decision. Only a fool would think an article like this would change their mind. But other denominations and Christians across the world must wake up. BDS is anti peace. It singles out the only democracy in the Middle East for attack. Denominations must stop supporting this hateful ideology.
There is a tragic irony here. What kind of Church attacks the only Middle Eastern nation that guarantees the safety of Christians? The Presbyterian Church has been at pains to state their action of divestment has nothing to do with BDS. But talk is cheap. Their actions speak volumes. Aiding the mission of BDS is immoral and completely contrary to Christ’s teachings to love your neighbour. BDS are claiming Friday’s events as a great victory. It’s time for Christians to say enough is enough and support our Jewish brothers and sisters. Given our history, rejecting BDS really is the very least that we can do.