The majority of American Protestants, especially evangelicals, stand behind Israel in its conflict with Palestine. This weekend, one denomination may break that trend, antagonizing supporters of the tiny, Jewish state.
The Presbyterian Church U.S.A. (PCUSA) will open its 221st General Assembly in Detroit on Saturday. One church committee has proposed divestment from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions, three companies that sell equipment to Israel for what the committee calls “non-peaceful” activities, including bulldozing some Palestinian buildings with missing permits and running security blockades in disputed territory.
At the last General Assembly in 2012, PCUSA commissioners voted 333-331 not to divest from this trio. Next week’s gathering could flip that margin, selling the church’s shares in phones, printers, and front-end loaders.
Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the conservative Presbyterian Lay Committee, describes the denomination’s multiple attempts to talk the three companies out of deals with Israel as futile. “It’s the effect of a gnat on a water buffalo,” she said. The PCUSA’s holdings are trivial anyway, she said. In the event of divestment, each company will probably be glad to have the church out of its ear.