This is not the blog I had hoped to be writing tonight. I attended a Presbytery
meeting today. The Presbytery was asked to concur in an overture to our GeneralAssembly requesting that the Presbyterian Church divest from Caterpillar, Motorola and
Hewlett-Packard, all companies making a profit by selling equipment for
military occupation of
news is that in all of the debate, no one sought to justify
passionate argument seems to be, “We must not offend our Jewish brothers and sisters.”
Jewish scholar Marc Ellis calls this the “ecumenical deal.” In order for Christians to have dialogue with Jews, we must first agree to never put the conduct of
table. To criticize Israel is
offensive and anti-Semitic.
Nevertheless, speaker after speaker placed his or her friendship with
the Jewish community above taking steps to call Israel into accountability. (If my neighbor is abusing his children, it
might be time for me to re-evaluate my relationship with my neighbor). Israel
We heard, I don’t like what
is doing but this is not the
way to address it. Of course, divestment
worked in 1985 in Israel . That government cleaned up its act
without a shot being fired. The value of
divestment is not to make Caterpillar or South
Africa go broke, but exposure. Most Americans and most Christians sitting in
our pews don’t have the foggiest idea of what is happening in Israel/Palestine,
not only in our name but with our money. Boycott and divestment is publicity. Israel
Some insisted on a “better way”. I kept waiting for that better way to be suggested but after defeating the motion to divest, the better way no longer seemed important. The message we sent to the Palestinians today was, Sorry about your pain, wish we could do something to help, but you must understand that we do not want to offend our Jewish neighbors.
I remember the story of someone asking a mother if she loved all her children the same. “Oh no,” she cried. “I love most the one who is sick until she gets well, the one who is injured until he is healed, the one who is afraid until she feels secure and the one who is hungry until he has been fed. Sounds more like Jesus than our presbytery.
Our Jewish neighbors are no longer suffering. They live in comfortable houses, are well fed and enjoy the benefits of civilized life.
On the other hand, Palestinians are suffering. They are sick and injured, afraid and hungry. I venture that none of the objections to divestment would have made sense if presented before a child whose father had been killed by an Israeli sniper or his brother locked up in an Israeli prison or his home demolished by a Caterpillar bulldozer, his school and hospital locked up on the other side of a wall and whose baby brother died at a check point because his mother was forced to give birth in the back seat of a car.
So, what do we say to our Christian brothers and sisters of Palestinian who are asking for divestment? Possibly we want to send them a message that, “We know better what is good for you than you do.” Or, “You just don’t understand how important our comfort is to us.” “We do not like what those bull dozers do to you, but we have a church in
that depend upon
the money donated by Caterpillar employees. After all, we have to look out for the
One debater said, “The timing is off. John Kerry is in the midst of peace talks.” I want to say, My God, we have been in peace talks for decades. As long as the
supports building settlements, walls and check points, talking will not produce
peace. The two state solution is dead. It
is buried beneath deceptions, broken agreements, and a one sided “honest
broker.” US Israel has sworn
against any state of Palestine unless controls
its borders, freedom of movement, water and labor. As it stands now, what Israel Israel wants is impossible and what is possible
is unacceptable to
or the Palestinians Someone has to take
a stand. I wish it had been our Presbytery. Israel
Thomas AreFebruary 8, 2014