The PCUSA has often linked its name to that of the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement. The Israel Pallestine Mission Network supports the BDS Movement while ACSWP and the Office of Public Witness have given support for its actions if not endorsing the movement. This week, the Washington Post carried an Op-ed by one of its in-house writers, Dana Milbank, entitled: BDS Detours into Old School Anti-Semitism. Milbank writes, “The BDS-promoted Mapping Project is just the latest manifestation of an antisemitic canard alleging secret, hidden Jewish control of, and the buying of influence over, academia, the media, corporations, charities, law enforcement and more.” Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) called the mapping project “an antisemitic enemies list with a map attached.” The “map” attempts to create a comprehensive scenario in which Jews control everything from U.S. foreign policy to corporate behavior to police conduct in the U.S. The map’s targets “go beyond the usual Zionist groups to include the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts (which covers liberal congregations opposed to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians), the Jewish Community Relations Council (whose affiliated groups include Holocaust survivors and Jewish war veterans), the Jewish Arts Collaborative, the Jewish Teen Foundation of Greater Boston — and even J Street, a liberal-Jewish-inspired group avowedly opposing Israel’s policies toward Palestinians.”
Presbyterians uninformed of the PCUSA-BDS tight linkage often wonder why they face so much questioning from Jewish congregations in their local communities. It all goes back to an uncritical adoption of BDS language and strategies. We need to understand the damage this linkage has done, does and will continue to do in our local ministries.
The latest BDS strategy is to declare Israel an apartheid state. If this year’s General Assembly endorses BDS apartheid language regarding Israel, it will be one more indication to the Jewish community that the PCUSA doesn’t think for itself when it comes to Israel-Palestine. It lets the secular, anti-Israel BDS movement do the thinking. As commissioners to the 2022 General Assembly, can we break our addiction to the lethal language BDS infuses into Presbyterian-Jewish relationships in our home towns.
Rev, Dr. John Wimberly