J Street repudiates Presbyterian divestment decision, sees no victory for BDS Movement

June 23, 2014

J Street does not believe that boycotts or divestment will bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to a two-state solution to their conflict, nor are they, for us, appropriate tools in pushing toward resolution of the conflict. We do not support the decision of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to divest from three North American companies doing business in the Palestinian territory.

We do welcome the Church’s decision to distance itself from the study guide “Zionism Unsettled” by declaring that it “does not reflect official denominational policy.“ Rather than promote an understanding of Zionism, the document distorts Judaism, twisting it into a racist, supremacist religion, while offensively intimating that Zionism is racist, pathological, and the very root of the conflict in the region.

Despite the vote, however, the guide is still being sold by the Church. If “Zionism Unsettled” is truly not reflective of its views, the Church should cease selling it on the PC (USA) website immediately.

This vote is far from a victory for the Global BDS Movement, which fails to recognize Israel’s right to exist and rejects Israel’s role as a national home for the Jewish people. Despite the Movement’s attempt to claim victory following the vote, the resolution passed is in fact an explicit repudiation of the BDS Movement, stating the Church is neither divesting from Israel nor aligning with or endorsing the Movement’s goals.

We support the Presbyterian’s decision to endorse a two-state solution where “a secure and universally recognized State of Israel lives alongside a free, viable, and secure state for the Palestinian people.”

Moving forward, rather than continuing to pursue a strategy of divestment, we urge the PC (USA) to seek out positive and constructive forms of engagement to resolve this conflict that affirm the legitimate concerns, narratives and claims of Israelis and Palestinians alike. We have and will continue to partner with those in the Church who seek that productive path forward.