By Joseph Rossell, Juicy Ecumenism.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) wrapped up its biannual General Assembly last Saturday. Liberals largely got their way, passing numerous progressive resolutions. Delegates agreed to explore divestment from Israel, declared that a peaceful two-state Israel/Palestine solution was nearly “impossible,” affirmed Christian pacifism, and issued apologies to Native Americans and the community.
Perhaps the most extreme measures General Assembly adopted involved Israel. Delegates passed a resolution that stated that the PCUSA should: “Prayerfully study the call from Palestinian civil society for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel…”
This resolution was intended to discipline Israel for allegedly violating the human rights of Palestinians. It expanded on a resolution passed in 2014 requiring the PCUSA to divest from companies supposedly profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. These companies included Hewlett Packard, Caterpillar, and Motorola Solutions.
Delegates at General Assembly also affirmed their “preference for a two-state solution,” a position which the denomination has held since 1982, but simultaneously recommended considering alternatives to achieve “a new political arrangement.” The assembly passed a statement that said:
Israel’s policy trajectory of continued settlements and brutal occupation is deeply troubling. Not only does it make a two-state solution increasingly difficult, if not impossible, to achieve, but the emerging, de facto single state’s systematic violation of Palestinian rights and democratic values is eroding Israel’s moral legitimacy.
These measures drew criticism from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). While glad that the PCUSA was “supportive of Israel’s legitimacy,” ADL criticized the denomination’s move toward supporting BDS and for backing away from a diplomatic solution they traditionally supported.