By slim margin, [US Presbyterian] Assembly approves divestment from three companies doing business in Israel/Palestine


#1

First, here is an Obligatory TL;DR warning

With that out of the way, let the intrepid among us go forward. :o

In a different discussion thread here in the World News forum, someone mentioned Kairos Palestine. Although I was unaware of it, Kairos Palestine seems to be an important element in the Christian response to the BDS campaign (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel.) The BDS campaign has occasionally been mentioned in various news reports we have discussed. However, I don’t think we have directly discussed that movement. With this in mind, I am starting this thread.

I am basing this thread on the June response of a Christian denomination in the United States, and on a July response from a Christian denomination in Scotland.

With audible gasps from those in the plenary hall, the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Friday narrowly approved divestment from three United States companies doing business in Israel-Palestine.

By a vote of 310-303, the Assembly approved an overture calling for divestment from Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions, companies some allege are engaged in “non-peaceful pursuits” in the region. A similar overture failed 333-331 at the 220th Assembly (2012).

Although divestment was its most debated item, the overture also affirms the PC(USA)’s commitment to interfaith and ecumenical dialogue and relationships in the region, and a preamble was added on the floor to reinforce that, saying, “The PC(USA) has a long-standing commitment to peace in Israel and Palestine. We recognize the complexity of the issues, the decades-long struggle, the pain suffered and inflicted by policies and practices of both the Israeli government and Palestinian entities. We further acknowledge and confess our own complicity in both the historic and current suffering of Israeli and Palestinian yearning for justice and reconciliation.”

Immediately after the vote, Moderator Heath Rada reaffirmed that, saying, “In no way is this a reflection for our lack of love for our Jewish sisters and brothers.
pcusa.org/news/2014/6/20/slim-margin-assembly-approves-divestment-three-com/

(The Presbyterian Church USA has 1.7 million members.)

Meanwhile, in Scotland similar attitudes were developing:

Archbishop Theodosius,of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem is visiting Scotland this week to draw attention to the humanitarian crisis in Palestine. At a meeting hosted by the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh the Archbishop urged ‘people of goodwill’ to call for an immediate end to hostilities in Gaza.

He called on people of goodwill to put pressure on the international community to be proactive in pressing for an immediate ceasefire to prevent any further deaths of innocent civilians. Encouraging people to read the Kairos Palestine document, Archbishop Theodosius echoed its sentiments: “We are not optimistic, but our hope remains strong.”

Those present shared the Archbishop’s deep concern that the current violence is undermining the chances of achieving an end to the Israeli occupation and a just peace. The Moderator, the Rt Rev John Chalmers said; “Those of us present could not help but feel that the situation facing the Palestinian people was deteriorating rather than improving. Violence on violence is not the way to resolve the situation facing the Palestinian people and the citizens of Israel. To an outside observer, the disproportionate response of the State of Israel appears set to leave a legacy of hurt, pain and resentment which does not create the atmosphere in which a peaceful and just resolution can be sought.”

The Rev Peter Macdonald, leader of the Iona Community said: “The Kairos Palestine document is rightly entitled ‘A Moment of Truth’ and I would endorse the Archbishop’s plea that people should read it, study it and apply it. The situation in the Occupied Territory is a human rights tragedy that cannot continue to be ignored.
churchofscotland.org.uk/news_and_events/news/2014/Church-leaders-in-Scotland-join-Greek-Orthodox-Archbishop

(The Church of Scotland has 400,000 members)


#2

So what is Kairos Palestine? It refers to a document and organization which mobilizes Christians against the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Here is a what seems to be a relatively impartial description

The document’s full title is “A moment of truth: A word of faith, hope, and love from the heart of Palestinian suffering”. Kairos is the Greek word for “an opportune or decisive moment”.[1] In discussing the Kairos Palestine document, the drafting of which he oversaw, Kairos Palestine coordinator Rifat Kassis explained that its production took about a year and a half because of a difference of opinions. He further said that “more than 3,000 Palestinian Christian figures have signed and adopted it.”[2] The document is available in Arabic and several European languages at the website www.kairospalestine.ps.[3]

The document contains the following explanation of its objectives: “As Palestinian Christians we hope that this document will provide the turning point to focus the efforts of all peace-loving peoples in the world, especially our Christian sisters and brothers. We hope also that it will be welcomed positively and will receive strong support. … We believe that liberation from occupation is in the interest of all peoples in the region because the problem is not just a political one, but one in which human beings are destroyed.”[4]

The document’s drafters describe it as “the Christian Palestinians’ word to the world about what is happening in Palestine.” They express a desire “to see the Glory of the grace of God in this land and in the sufferings of its people,” and add that in this spirit they are calling on “the international community to stand by the Palestinian people who have faced oppression, displacement, suffering and clear apartheid for more than six decades.” They call the document “a cry of hope, with love, prayer and faith in God,” and say that it is addressed “first of all to ourselves and then to all the churches and Christians in the world, asking them to stand against injustice and apartheid, urging them to work for a just peace in our region, calling on them to revisit theologies that justify crimes perpetrated against our people and the dispossession of the land.”

The document declares that the Occupation is a “sin against God” and that any theology that tolerates it cannot be Christian “because true Christian theology is a theology of love and solidarity with the oppressed, a call to justice and equality among peoples.” It calls on all peoples to put pressure on Israel to put an end to its oppression and disregard for international law. It also describes non-violent resistance as a “duty” for all Palestinians, including Christians. And it charges against Israel with having launched a “cruel war” against Gaza in December 2008 and January 2009; with ravaging Palestinian land “in the name of God and in the name of force”; with separating family members, thus “making family life impossible for thousands of Palestinians, especially where one of the spouses does not have an Israeli identity card”; with restricting religious liberty for Christians and Muslims; with lack of consideration for refugees and prisoners; with turning “Jerusalem, city of reconciliation,” into “a city of discrimination and exclusion, a source of struggle rather than peace”; and with holding “international law and international resolutions” in “contempt.”
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kairos_Palestine


#3

Hey, if it makes them feel better…


#4

From the Palestinian National Charter:

Article 4: The Palestinian identity is a genuine, essential, and inherent characteristic; it is transmitted from fathers to children. The Zionist occupation and the dispersal of the Palestinian Arab people, through the disasters which befell them, do not make them lose their Palestinian identity and their membership in the Palestinian community, nor do they negate them.

Article 9: **Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. **This is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it. They also assert their right to normal life in Palestine and to exercise their right to self-determination and sovereignty over it.

Article 10: Commando (Feday’ee) action constitutes the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war. **This requires its escalation, comprehensiveness, and the mobilization of all the Palestinian popular and educational efforts and their organization and involvement in the armed Palestinian revolution. **It also requires the achieving of unity for the national (watani) struggle among the different groupings of the Palestinian people, and between the Palestinian people and the Arab masses, so as to secure the continuation of the revolution, its escalation, and victory.

Article 15: The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and **aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine. **Absolute responsibility for this falls upon the Arab nation- peoples and governments-with the Arab people of Palestine in the vanguard. Accordingly, the Arab nation must mobilize all its military, human, moral, and spiritual capabilities to participate actively with the Palestinian people in the liberation of Palestine. It must, particularly, in the phase of the armed Palestinian revolution, offer and furnish the Palestinian people with all possible help, and material and human support, and make available to them the means and opportunities that will enable them to continue to carry out their leading role in the armed revolution, until they liberate their homeland.

That document has never actually been abrogated.


#5

Thanks, Mark. We need to be reminded about this, oh, maybe at least once a week.


#6

When you read the Palestinian National Charter and the Hamas Covenant, it puts things in a little context.

The tragedy is that there are innocent people that are victimized as a result of this (on both sides).


#7

If people don’t want to invest in Israel, nobody is going to stop them.


#8

I wonder if Netanyahu is taking notice. Growth of the BDS movement in the United States will not bode well for Israel.


#9

I believe Netenyahu begged them not to pass this.

And we wonder why they are afraid to trust the Christians.


#10

Mark, how dare you attempt to awaken the slumbering! Where were the Presbyterians before this war started, while the radical Islamists were lobbing missiles into Israel daily? Nowhere! This vote shows, IMO, that among the slight majority of those who remain Presbyterians after their increasingly leftward drift, anti-Semitism is alive and well.


#11

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