JNS.org – Much has been written about the deplorable anti-Israel divestment vote at the recently held 221st General Assembly (GA) of Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA). I (Roberta P. Seid) witnessed the proceedings and was struck by an aspect not covered in the reporting on the GA: the corrosive self-delusion that led to, and justified, PCUSA’s positions on Israel.
Self-Delusion No. 1: “PCUSA prides itself on its fairness and democratic procedures.” As it turns out, the Church’s Committee on Middle East Issues did not meet those standards at the GA. The moderator originally appointed for the committee—centrist Rev. Al Butzer, who had visited the Holy Land with Jewish and Palestinian groups—was unceremoniously replaced through behind-the-scenes manipulation. Since resolution proponents get a longer time to speak when they present the resolution’s rationale, anti-divestment committee members asked for equal time to respond. The Middle East issues committee rejected their request and limited them to 90-second comments. Proponents of divestment also provided supposedly neutral resource experts to answer questions, but their “experts” were committed anti-Israel ideologues. The result was an almost unchallenged barrage of anti-Israel hate propaganda that ignored all context, including the ongoing terrorism and threats Israel faces from the terrorist group Hamas and its allies, Hezbollah, Iran, and other self-declared enemies in the region.
Self-Delusion No. 2: “Committee members, who are chosen randomly shortly before the GA meets, can learn enough from the committee debate to vote on complex international issues.” Not true. Several of the 66 committee members admitted they had known little about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and were swayed by the debates. Given the committee’s structural bias, they clearly were in no position to make informed, responsible judgments.