Wrap Up on the Good Work of the Middle East Issues Committee

Presbyterians for Middle East Peace thanks the members, leadership and staff of the Middle East Issues Committee for a job well done. They thought through the issues with integrity and hard work. The leadership kept the issues and process clear and clean. It was impressive.

With our emphasis on trying to reduce polarization by refocusing the PCUSA on reconciliation work between Israelis and Palestinians, we are particularly grateful for a number of outcomes by the committee’s votes:

The committee rejected the creation of a task force to study a very polarizing letter produced by the National Coalition of Christian Organizations in Palestine. The letter produced by NCCOP was not signed by major PCUSA partners such as the Lutherans and Anglicans. The committee encouraged relevant staff and committees to continue to respond in solidarity to the group.

The committee approved a Commissioner Resolution to encourage congregations to engage with and support grassroots organizations in Israel and Palestine working to build bonds of understanding. We believe this action has huge potential to make us more effective peacemakers in the region.

Amended Overture 12-02 to eliminate an instruction authorizing the Stated Clerk to call for a suspension to US economic and military aid to Israel.

Created a substitute amendment to 12-05 that eliminates most of the original overture’s language. The new recommendation eliminates the language which seemed to insist that Presbyterians set guidelines for Jewish-PCUSA dialogues that would have, for all intents and purposes, made it impossible for most American Jews to participate. The overture also said that Presbyterians should call off the dialogues if they weren’t being successful; successful being defined by Presbyterians.

The committee helped the PCUSA really become concerned about the entire Middle East rather than just Israel-Palestine with a strong overture (12-09) to help in Syria.,

We hope that the plenary will take a long, hard look at Overture 12-08, approved by the Committee. It authorizes a task force to study solutions to the division of Jerusalem. The estimated cost of $13,700 comes from per capita funds at a time of rising per capita expense for congregations. Additionally, do we really think a study team PCUSA can solve the problem of Jerusalem with when the best minds and hearts of the world have been unsuccessful. We hope commissioners will vote down this overture. Again, we express thanks to all on the committee and its staff for their good work.