Various groups aligned with the international Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement have been sending out fundraising letters appealing for donations. The secular BDS folks want to fund a large group of protestors to be present at the PCUSA General Assembly this summer in Detroit. BDS groups outside the church, ranging from Jewish Voices for Peace to Students for Justice in Palestine, hope a human wave of protestors will pressure the PCUSA into becoming the first major denomination to take a pro-divestment position and join the international BDS movement. Similar tactics have failed with all the other major mainline Protestant denominations.
In addition to the outside groups, some Presbyterian groups have trained people to lobby GA commissioners. They organized trips to the Middle East where the future lobbyists could meet with Palestinians. Participants in the trips traveled on the condition that they would attend the GA to lobby for divestment.
Presbyterians for Middle East Peace treasures the principle of free speech, so we look forward to the presence of the protestors. Their presence will also make clear that the PCUSA is being asked to hitch its wagon to a secular BDS train driven by outside forces. If the PCUSA endorses divestment, we will become their poster child in an attempt to say the religious community backs their anti-Israel agenda.
The drivers of the BDS train are perfectly clear that their goal is not to reform Israel’s practices and policies. The goal is to eliminate Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland of the Jewish people. They seek not to change border lines or remove settlements. They seek to reverse the decision made by world leaders in 1948 to create Israel as a state. BDS leaders are not shy about stating their agenda:
“(The one state solution means) a unitary state, where, by definition, Jews will be a minority.”
Omar Bargouti Founder, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
“BDS’s stated goals (ending the Occupation, equality for non-Jews and Jews, and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees) logically imply the end of Israel as a Jewish state…”
John Spritzler, Pro-BDS Author
“The real aim of BDS is to bring down the state of Israel….That should be stated as an unambiguous goal. There should not be any equivocation on the subject. Justice and freedom for the Palestinians are incompatible with the existence of the state of Israel.”
As’ad AbuKhalil, Pro-BDS Author
Ironically, the “one-state solution” advocated by BDS leadership has virtually no measurable support from either the Palestinian or Israeli public and governments. Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, calls for the “obliteration” of Israel in its charter. West Bank Palestinian Authority leaders have consistently called for a Palestinian Arab state in Gaza and the West Bank. In the West Bank today under Palestinian Authority law, the sale of land to a Jew is a crime punishable by death.
Every voting commissioner at the General Assembly will have to ask themselves one simple question: are we as a Christian body prepared to tell the Jewish people they have no right to a homeland in Israel? That is the central message of the recently published “Zionism Unsettled” document, produced by the Israel Palestine Mission Network, recommended by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, and the core of the BDS agenda. Or, will we, like Pope Francis, avoid incendiary actions and instead continue to support Israelis and Palestinians of good will who seek a peaceful future built upon tolerance and coexistence? May the Gospel guide us to the right answer.