PCUSA Divestment – Results

I understand that we can’t count on anything until the final gavel sounds at the Presbyterian 2012 GA on Saturday, but assuming last night’s victory holds, there are a few important lessons to be drawn from this most-recent continuation of the BDS movement’s decade-plus-long losing streak.

First off, we need to keep in mind that this is not the first, the second nor third but actually the fourth time the Presbyterians have rejected joining the BDS “movement” and instead opting for engagement as a means to play a peace-making role in the region.

Once BDS Twitterers had finished howling derision at church members they had previously showered with praise (once their unexpected loss became apparent), they quickly reverted to “by losing we actually won” mode, citing a closing gap in the margin they have lost by over the last eight years.

But this calendar fails to take into account that BDS actually won in 2004, meaning the BDSers only hope right now is that in 2014 (i.e., ten years after they last managed to win a major battle) they might be able to get back to where they were a decade previously.

The extremely tight vote that killed off divestment last night (333-331 with two abstentions) is definitely the best lubricant for a BDS spinning-wheel trying to turn manure into gold.  But we need to keep in mind that this close vote was over the question of whether or not to do something extraordinary by PCUSA organizational standards: reject a committee report supported by a large percentage of that committee (one that embraced BDS) and replace it with a minority report that rejected divestment.

Given that committee reports tend to get rubber stamped in the General Assembly, it’s telling that the dynamic around PCUSA divestment votes tends to be built around church leaders stacking the committee that gets to bring forth BDS proposals, only to have those proposals shot down by the membership.

It’s also worth noting that once the minority report was accepted by this tight margin, the vote to embrace its call for positive investment (vs. negative divestment) passed by a much more traditional anti-BDS margin of 63%-37%, indicating that no more than a third of members fall into the “divestment or nothing” camp.

The gap between the tight first vote and more traditional second one also highlights the fact that we might be comparing apples to kumquats if we just look at the numbers associated with each year’s key vote that killed off divestment for that year.  For whenever the Presbyterians (or any church or civic organization for that matter) have been given a clear and unambiguous choice to embrace or reject a divestment proposal, rejection of BDS always wins big.

Which is why the BDS brigade within the church and their enablers amongst the Presbyterian leadership put so much effort into eliminating all possible options, other than a request for members to support or reject a report that had passed committee by a wide margin.  In 2006, for example, there was no ambiguity that members were being asked to rescind the divestment policy they had enacted in 2004 which may be why that vote was so lopsided (95%-5% to rescind).  This explains why the BDSers put so much effort into obscuring what they were actually trying to achieve this time around, and worked so hard to funnel voters in just one direction.  And still they lost.

They lost despite making PCUSA divestment their top priority, especially after behind handed an even more embarrassing defeat by the Methodists a few months ago.  They lost despite the tremendous resources they put into trying to convince both churches to climb onboard the BDS bandwagon, which included cold calling delegates and flying supporters into the meeting to lobby hard to get their motions passed.  And they lost despite the fact that the organized Jewish community decided to not put similar effort into filling the GA with their own back-slapping and arm-twisting lobbyists, preferring instead to simply alert church leaders and members that our patience with getting slapped in the face every two years was at an end.

I suppose that this is the point where I should take back some of the negative comments I’ve been making about the church over the last week or so (or keep them in reserve in case last night’s victory is somehow reversed before the end of the GA).  But I’d like to think that some of that commentary, written far more in sorrow than in anger, might still resonate with the majority of Presbyterians who still don’t seem to want their church associated with a sociopathic movement like BDS.

After all, church behavior (or, more specifically, the behavior or church leaders) was indeed appalling before, during and after last night’s vote.  They continued and continue to push ahead with BDS, with Kairos and with all of the other paraphernalia of ugly anti-Israel polemics, despite being told four times by the membership’s voting representatives that the people in the pews prefer engagement to punishment of just one side in the Middle East conflict.

This GA, like the last GA (and the one before that) was accompanied by acts of bad faith between PCUSA leaders and their supposed friends in the Jewish community to whom they kept making promises of moderation they never intended to keep.  And the behavior of those leaders continues to degrade the institution, making it that much harder for PCUSA to be taken seriously about any matter whatsoever.

Now it may be that in two years time the divestment brigade will find the right combination of words and political maneuvers to get the Presbyterian Church back on the BDS bandwagon, regardless of the views of the majority of church members.  But by then, it’s not entirely clear what we’ll be talking about when we talk about “The Presbyterian Church.”

There are hard days ahead for an institution in decline and bitterly divided about so many issues.  And I wish I could say that last night removed the BDS albatross from around the church’s neck.  But that day, sadly, still seems far, far off.

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76 Responses to PCUSA Divestment – Results

  1. will spotts July 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

    Moving to reconsider at this moment

  2. Anonymous July 6, 2012 at 2:20 pm #

    Once again,what saddens me is that all that the BSers accomplish is division.The PCUSA voted overwhelmingly to invest not divest and there is no way in hell the BSers will support that and move forward to peace and reconciliation.

    • Anonymous July 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

      Overwhelmingly? It was 333-331.

      By the way, they just voted overwhelmingly in favor of boycotting settlement products.

    • Jon July 6, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

      It depends on which of the votes you're talking about (although the word “repeatedly” is probably most useful since it highlights that this is actually the fourth time divestment has been rejected by PCUSA).

      Oh, and while you're figuring out just how much handcream and dates the Presbyterian Church will no longer be buying (and looking up “boobie prize” in the dictionary), it also looks like the church voted “overwhelming” to reject calling Israel an “Apartheid State”.

      Given the BDSers respect for such overwhelming votes by PCUSA, I guess we can assume you will no longer be using the “Aparthied” slur in any of your literature.


    • Anonymous July 6, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

      The second vote yesterday ” affirmed a policy of investment in support of peace in Israel and the Palestinian territories” by a margin of 369-290.

      That is called a positive vote on investing that followed a no vote on divestment.
      Obviously BDS has no interest in anything positive. Always distracting or changing the subject.

      That's what losers do.

    • S July 6, 2012 at 10:42 pm #

      Jon- just as soon as you stop using the “Israel = democracy” lie in yours.

    • fizziks July 7, 2012 at 2:40 am #

      What makes Israel not a democracy? One person, one vote? Check. Religious liberty? Check. Freedom of expression, sexual orientation, etc? Check.

      Certainly you are not confusing the occupation of certain parts of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza with lack of democracy, are you? Because however you might feel about those things, they are something else. Just as the US was a democracy in spite of occupying and blockading other countries during WW2 and Vietnam, Israel is a democracy now.

    • S July 7, 2012 at 3:31 am #

      What kind of democracy denies basic rights to the 2.5 million people over which it has exercised absolute control for the past 45 years? The Palestinians living in the West Bank don't have the right to vote in Israeli elections, yet Israel takes the liberty of demolishing their homes and olive groves, segregating them into cantons, bifurcating their land with Israeli-only roads, collecting (and withholding) their taxes, appropriating water and resources, and building walls that extend deeply into their lands. Many Jewish leftists warn that Israel will soon have to choose between sustaining its democratic status and continuing its occupation. I think that the time has already passed. Israel is no democracy.

    • uncle yo-yo July 7, 2012 at 11:42 am #

      Ah, maneuver no. 2 from the BDS playbook: Obfuscate and lie about the true goals of BDS.

      Question to S: do you support the right of return? Yes or No?

      If you support that “right”, the “occupation” has dick-all to do with the “last 45 years” and the “West Bank” and everything to do with the desire of Jews to the same self-determination you grant the Palestinians.

    • S July 7, 2012 at 1:29 pm #


      Not sure I understand your second paragraph. The occupation and the refugee crisis are two separate, but equally important issues. Just like ending the occupation, the implementation of the right of return in some form is an internationally recognized necessity. It's so sickening that you believe that a Jewish American, after having lived in the US for his entire life, should be afforded the 'right of return' to Israel while the indigenous Palestinian population, many of whom having centuries of contiguous ancestral ties to the land, should be left to rot in refugee camps across the ME.

    • uncle yo-yo July 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

      I do not know which I found more contemptible, your arrogance or your ignorance. But just so we are clear for everyone who chances on this thread.

      A. You are a liar, like all BDSers.

      Look at your first post. You pretend it is all about “45 years” and the “West Bank” and your main professed concern is how Israel may no longer be a “real democracy” (boo-hoo). You do not reveal (until pushed) that you are for a “right of return” that will end Israel as a state and that Israel could withdraw to the 1967 green line and you would still be for BDS. So, you are a liar. Which leads us to a second, related point.

      B. You are a Loser (as is BDS)

      You do not reveal your true aims and goals because thse goals are losers that will never appeal to anything more than an angry and suspect fringe. If you were honest and said “I am for the right of return — the Jews are the only ones I do not believe are deserving of a state” you would be shunned, so you lie. And, as a supporter of a movement that depends on lying, you are — by definition — a loser.

      RANT CONT …

    • uncle yo-yo July 7, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

      C. You are full of self-delusion.

      You pretend you are for human rights, you are not. Your maximalist demands (for which you pay no price) condemn others to misery. You are a parasite who latches onto, and feeds off, a conflict that harms others (but never you), in an attempt to give your life some meaning and make you a hero (sample inner monologue: “look at S, that brave Dissident taking on the dreaded Jewish lobby, how brave, how awesome she is!!!). The reality is far different. You are — in a word — pathetic and are part of a pathetic (and unsuccessful, and extremely fringe) movement.

      D. You are ignorant at best, mendacious at worst.

      The UNWRA definition of a Palestinian refugee is anyone who was in Palestine from 1946 and left in 1948 — so, two years. Bet you did not know that. But if you did, that is no better. You essentially include in the term “indigenous” someone whose grandfather may have moved to Jaffa in 1947 and left in 1948. Further, you are willing to keep all his progeny to the Nth generation in squalor as a “refugee” rather than reach any compromise (but hey, no skin off your nose, amirite?). Meanwhile, if a jew moved to Israel in 1946, or 1947 or 1949, all of his descendants and progeny are forever “colonialists” who have no right to live in Israel or self-determine. This is true even though half of all those Israeli “colonialists” can trace their ancestry back centuries in Jerusalem, or Safed, or Hebron, or to other Arab countries (Yemen, or Iraq, or Egypt) where they are no longer welcome. Plainly, this makes no sense. Worse, the UNWRA definition of refugee that you endorse (but only for Palestinians) or the idea of “refugee for all eternity status” is pernicious and condemns others (but never you, S — never ever you) to misery and no compromise.

      Make no mistake, the descendants of those who left Israel in 1948 are “left to rot” in camps because of the political support that you freely give to the right of return and one state solution. You should be ashamed.

      Finally, to pretend that Israeli rules of citizenship are markedly different than those of many other states (e.g,, Germany) and far better than the rules in any future Palestine of the type you effectively support through your actions (you know, the one that is “free from the river to the sea” of jews — no matter how may “centuries of contiguous ancestral ties to the land” that jew may have) is, once again, at least ignorant and likely mendacious.

      Look, bottom line, it is not your fight — you do not live there and you have no right to decide how many years (and when) someone has to live there before he or she is deemed “indigenous” and more worthy to live there than someone else. And, even if you can claim some tenuous connection to the fight (“MY TAX DOLLARS … or “I visited there once on a fact-finding mission with ISM!!!” or “I read Exodus once when I was a teenager and it really meant something to me, so you cannot understand how upset I was to learn yada yada yada …” or “I heart Hummus”) you are not part of the solution, YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

      Please go away before your boredom, middle-class guilt, and need for a hobby/fantasy that allows you to posture and be a hero on someone else's dime gets more people killed.

      Thank you.

    • Anonymous July 7, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

      Bravo uncle yo-yo !

      Just want to add one thing.

      The “left to rot” line by S.

      What exactly has the host country of Lebanon done for their bretheren in the refugee camps since 1948?
      Yes, that is correct.They have left them there caged in, to rot.
      What has Israel done for the jews forced out of Arab contries since 1948?

      Thanks again, Uncle yo-yo

    • fizziks July 7, 2012 at 10:29 pm #

      Good job, uncle yo-yo!

    • S July 8, 2012 at 2:16 am #

      A) I am very openly in favor of some viable implementation of the right of return. My comment about the occupation was a response to fizziks' assertion that Israel is a democracy. In my opinion, Israel's refusal to recognize the right of return doesn't make it undemocratic, just immoral. The occupation makes Israel undemocratic. I'm completely willing to discuss the right of return with you (it seems to be the only thing you ever want to discuss, even if completely irrelevant in context). After all, it is one of our three demands.

      B) Supporters of the 'right of return' are not part of the fringe. The right of return has been recognized in a number of UN resolutions, most notably in 194, and has been endorsed by the vast majority of countries from every corner of the world. According to the international consensus, you actually represent the fringe, not me.

      C) I am indeed working for human, political, and civil rights – not just for Palestinians but for Israelis too. I'm not going to engage in a debate with you in order to prove that your paranoia that I somehow wish harm upon Jews is unjustified.

      D) It's funny that, according to you, I would have to live in Israel-Palestine before I'm qualified to comment on the situation there. I guess you don't think that international action against Apartheid South Africa, Libya, Rwanda, Bosnia, or even Nazi Germany was justified. After all, we had hardly more than “tenuous connections” with those countries.

    • uncle yo-yo July 8, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

      I responded to you below re point A. Suffice it to say here that you are still lying about your support for a “viable” right of return. What you support is the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Middle East.

      B. You misrepresent 194, 242, history, and the differences between the UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council and real life. Whether deliberately or foolishly, I do not know. Here is simple proof you are on the fringe: If you were not, you would not need to always lie about your true goals and aims.

      C/D. BDSers do not only lie to others, they lie to themselves. You are not for human rights, you have taken sides in a fight and are on the side that truly wants Apartheid, Ethnic Cleansing, and mass deaths (not just the sophistic versions of those words that you employ in lying about your goals and aims). You know what, there were those on the international scene that supported the genocidaires in Rwanda, Bosnia and even Nazi Germany. No matter how you lie to yourself, please be aware that it is their shameful tradition that you follow.

  3. Anonymous July 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm #

    PCUSA now considering a motion to boycott Ahava cosmetics (they somehow also tried to tie CAT to it again). I did not know PCUSA was in cosmetics sales business; or are they going to raid their members' bathroom cabinets?

  4. will spotts July 6, 2012 at 2:57 pm #

    Israel = apartheid proposal is up for debate now.

  5. Anonymous July 6, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    My question is the same as before and might be even more important now since we know this issue will be back in two years. How do we, Jews and our non-Jewish friends, deal with a denomination that is willing on a semi-doctrinal basis deny Jews our own history? How do I address a PCUSA leader who says I have no connection to the Jews in the Bible?

    This is not just a rhetorical question. It seems important that we find a language we can use over the next two years. This seems especially critical because it appears the Palestinians may try to use UNESCO to write us out of our own history, declaring Jewish cultural and religious sites in the West Bank (once called Judea and Samaria) Palestinian.

    • fizziks July 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      I for one think it is extremely important for us to go directly to our local Presbyterians. Arrange a meeting with them, and tell them what their chburch doctrine about Jews is – they probably don't even know – and how genetic studies and so on confirm the continuity of the Jewish people and our link to the past. Tell them what BDS actually stands for, and why the Jewish community is united in opposition.

  6. Anonymous July 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    Why are you even pretending you care about the Presbyterians or other Christians at all? You have no interest in interfaith relations. If a Christian doesn't support the most right-wing government in Israel's history you label them antisemitic. That's called not relating honestly.

    • Anonymous July 6, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

      Are you referring to the current broadest coalition in Israel's history of 94 MKs in Knesset as “the most right-wing government in Israel's history”? Perhaps you should re-examine other points about Israel that have been fed to you as “facts”, you'll be amazed what truth does to interfaith relations.

    • Mark Kerpin July 6, 2012 at 6:18 pm #

      As opposed to the BDSers, who only care about the Presbyterians as a means to advance their ridiculous hateful campaign?

    • S July 6, 2012 at 7:25 pm #

      Finally another sane and rational voice on this website. Anonymous makes a very valid point. I watched the entire GA debate last night and I noticed that almost all of the Presbyterians who spoke against divestment argued not necessarily that they accept the legitimacy or legality of the occupation or even that they necessarily disagree with BDS but that they would oppose divestment because it would engender considerable backlash from the Jewish community and a disintegration of interfaith relations. It essentially became a debate over the moral decision versus the politically expedient decision. I'm sure that many more than the two people we ultimately needed for divestment were swayed by these arguments. It's sad that opposition to such immoral policies would cause such uproar and these vile accusations of anti-semitism, especially after the very civil discourse exhibited last night.

    • fizziks July 6, 2012 at 11:51 pm #

      Conversely, S, I noticed that everyone – with one exception and that exception being the mouth breather who screamed about apartheid – who spoke in favor of the divestment resolution did so while endorsing Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state in the context of the two state solution. So the number of people who actually support BDS's insane agenda and goals is actually quite small – much smaller than the 301 votes divestment got.

    • S July 7, 2012 at 1:22 am #

      331*, and last time I checked, the BDS movement never endorsed a one state solution.

    • fizziks July 7, 2012 at 2:37 am #

      Well S, you better check again with your BDS buddies on Mondoweiss, because they are all about the one state solution.*

      (And don't try to distance yourself from Mondoweiss because you guys site it here all the time.)

      * Actually, their preferred solution is that Jews don't live in the Middle East at all, but they are willing to accept a single bi-national state on the way to that goal.

    • Anonymous July 7, 2012 at 3:21 am #

      They mostly do support a one state solution, and I would only try to distance my views from theirs if I disagreed with them (although I most certainly disagree with your assertion that the Mondo-bloggers want the Jews out of the ME). The BDS movement is actually a lot more nuanced than your lot gives us credit for. Certainly some of us do endorse the one state solution. Others advocate for the two state solution. I've personally had many internal debates about possible solutions with my “BDS friends”, and I've wavered many times over my own preference as well. Likewise, there is also much internal debate over hot-bed issues like the academic boycott, full boycott of Israel, cultural boycott, and more. Partly because of these internal divisions, BDS's demands are entirely rights based – and on the issue of ensuring basic, universally-recognized rights, there is virtually unanimous agreement.

    • DrMike July 7, 2012 at 5:14 am #

      “universally-recognized” rights including the fictional “right” of return for descendants of actual refugees? That “right” is selectively given to the Palestinians and to no other refugee population on the planet.
      And you know damn well that there is one reason and one reason only for promoting that “right”: “The demand for the return of the Palestinian refugees…is tantamount to the destruction of Israel….” As'ad Abd-Al Rahman, Palestinian Authority Minister of Refugee Affairs, Al-Dustur (Jordanian newspaper), August 16, 1999.

      BDser in chief Omar Barghouti states that the goal of BDS is “euthanasia for Israel.”

      Don't even try to pretend otherwise. Regardless of what some individuals who claim to “support BDS but accept Israel” say, THE GOAL OF THE BDS MOVEMENT IS THE END OF JEWISH STATEHOOD. FULL STOP.

      Whether BDSers disagree on various tactics within that (should they use violence to keep people out of Israeli-owned shops as was done in Australia, should they use verbal violence to shut down Israeli speakers), I couldn't give a rat's ass.
      You can stop with the BS about “basic universally recognized rights” when you deny the Jewish people's right to national self-determination while supporting 24 different Arab “nationalities” exercising the same right.

    • Anonymous July 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

      Thank you DrMike. Very well put.

      Norman Finkelstein had it right.

      A bunch of bobbing head cultists.

    • fizziks July 7, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

      Good job, Dr. Mike. I would also add that while it is actually nice to see that there is more diversity of thought amongst the BDS partisans than is reflected at Mondofront, it is still troubling how arrogant this anonymous poster can be.

      From the response it is evident that he/she thinks it is up to him/her and his/her friends in BDS to decide what happens to the 6 million Israelis. There was no notion whatsoever in there at all that the 6 million should get a say in their future. If anonymous decides one state is the way to go, then that's what has to happen.

      Is there any other ethnic group in the world they would presume to do this to? Is there any other ethnic group in the world that anonymous and his/her cohort would think it is their natural right to dictate to if they may or may not have a state, may or may not have self-determination? What their future must be? The arrogance of that position is galling, but the raw antisemitism involved, which anonymous and some of his/her friends don't even realize is inherent in their position of denying Jews and uniquely Jews self-determination in their state, is so much more disturbing.

    • S July 8, 2012 at 2:36 am #

      You're actually completely misrepresenting my opinions. My only demands are that the three rights-based pillars of the BDS movement be implemented. If that could somehow be done through a two-state compromise, I would be more than happy to accept it. My reason for supporting the one state solution more rigorously is because I think the two state solution is dead and not coming back. Even if we ignore the refugee crisis for a moment, settlement expansion has all but eliminated the possibility of a sovereign Palestinian state in the West Bank, and with every passing day, it will become more and more politically impractical to ask that the settlements that divide the West Bank into cantons be withdrawn.

      I care about the Israelis too and I would never entertain the idea that one Jewish Israeli should be expelled from Israel. I also recognize that sometimes even very good people can be misguided and lose track of what's right. The truth is that Muslims, Jews, and Christians can live together in harmony. They can forgive. They can rebuild. They can move forward as brothers and sisters, not enemies. If anything (and I don't want this to turn into a debate about the term apartheid), South Africa has shown us that two racial/ethnic/religious groups can reconcile and form one multi-racial, multi-ethnic democracy. Despite the bumps in the road, South Africa's emergence from violence and interracial hatred can inspire us to believe that the same can happen elsewhere.

    • DrMike July 8, 2012 at 4:51 am #

      1. Nice job avoiding responding on the issue of the bogus “right” of return. Clearly you HAVE no response to the fact that this is constructed out of pixie dust. It doesn't matter how many states you choose to count, none of them would be Jewish. Abbas claims to support a two stare solution; but one would be an Arab majority state in place of Israel and the other would be W /Gaza with no Jews. Maybe that's the two state solution you would “accept”?
      2. The comparison to S Africa is of course just as specious. The Boers are not a distinct people with a 3000 year tie to that land. Of course if you want to claim that the Jews are not a people and therefore excluded from your “rights-based pillars” then be up front about it.
      You want a “rights-based” solution? Here's one:”the Jewish people have just as much right to a state on part of their homeland as the Palestinians.”.

    • S July 8, 2012 at 5:19 am #

      1. Hello Dr. Mike. I was actually responding directly to fizziks, not you. On an unrelated note, I'm happy that you've learned how to cite your sources, though. That's a step in the right direction.

      No, my reason for supporting the right of return is not because I hope it will 'destroy' Israel. I support the right of return because I've been to the refugee camps, I've witnessed abject poverty, and I've spoken with people who want nothing more than to return to the land on which their ancestors are buried. Statelessness is heart-breaking, and we can blame the Arab governments for not accommodating the refugees all we want, but in the end, the refugees are Palestinian, not Lebanese or Syrian, and they belong in Palestine if they so choose. Likewise, I support the permanent sustenance of the right of return for Jews to the so-called Holy Land. Israel is the Jewish homeland. It is also the Palestinian homeland. All that we ask is that the two parties share what means so much to each of them.

      2. I can't inherently deny the Jewish people's right to a sovereign Jewish-only state in Israel. If the land of Israel and Palestine were completely devoid of non-Jews, I would have no issue with Israel whatsoever. In fact, its establishment might have provided the world with nothing but beneficial contributions. But, in fact, the establishment of the Jewish state meant the denial of basic rights to another very large group of people. As long as that continues, I cannot accept the legitimacy of a state that prioritizes the rights of Jews over non-Jews.

    • Anonymous July 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

      It would seem that if one accepts Israel as the Jewish homeland, one should equally accept that Jordan is the Palestinian homeland — the country that was first called Transjordan, and which took up 2/3 of the Palestinian Mandate, had a Jewish population, just as the country that became Israel had an Arab population. Do you disagree with these facts? I know the Jordanian minority government seems to…

    • S July 8, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

      No, what is currently Israel and Palestine is the homeland of both the Jews and the Palestinians. Both groups can trace their ancestral lineages to cities like Jerusalem, Hebron, Haifa, and so on. Why do you think that a Palestinian who can trace his family history in Jerusalem back 10 centuries should accept that his 'homeland' is actually Jordan?

    • Anonymous July 8, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

      I'm not sure whether I should answer your question or point out that you've curiously ignored the existence of Jordan entirely. Let's see — a person who can trace his family history in Jerusalem back 10 centuries doesn't have to change what he calls his homeland. It's gone under lots of names over the course of those centuries. But his nationality is most likely Jordanian. (I know some people who fall in this category whose nationality is actually American, and plenty of others whose nationality is Israeli.)

    • fizziks July 8, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

      S, I have to say your position here is very interesting. Veeeeery interesting…

      You are VERY concerned about the right of grandchildren and great grandchildren of an Arab who may have lived in Jaffa to “return” to where their great-grandparent came from. So concerned, in fact, that you have made it your life's work. However you seem to be completely unconcerned about the right of a Jewish person who's grandparent or great-grandparent came from Hebron, Baghdad, Aden, Tehran, Tripoli, Giza, or a large number of other places to “return” to that place (let alone what was stolen from them as they. left)

      Why are you willing to dedicate so much of your life, up to and including co-opting institutions such as churches, to achieve justice for the former individual, and yet display absolutely ZERO interest in equivalent justice for the later. And why are there thousands like you, again VERY concerned for justice for the former individual and completely unconcerned and apathetic, if not outright hostile, to the equivalent 'justice' for the later?

      I know the answer, and you know I know the answer.

    • fizziks July 8, 2012 at 5:56 pm #

      oh, and before you reply with some absolutely meaningless statement that you actually do support justice for the several million Jews kicked out of Arab and Muslim countries and their descendants:

      Where are the boycotts? Where is the divestment? Why aren't you pressuring churches to divest from these Middle Eastern countries until they provide a right of return or compensate their Jewish refugees and their descendants? Why are you standing idly by while food coops and cosmetics companies do business with these countries, who still have not provided justice to refugees and their descendants? Why are you doing nothing about the many American and other Western companies that invest in these countries, who are still living off of the money and property their stole from the Jews they kicked out in the 40s and 50s? Where are the protests, the boycotts, the websites? Why wasn't there an entire giant effort on behalf of those refugees directed at the Presbyterian Church?

      But of course I know the answer. It is because BDS is not about justice, human rights, peace, or any of those things. If it was, then there would be a modicum of consistency in the justice that is sought. But no, BDS is simply nothing other than a very poorly concealed economic arm of a war movement that has sought to defeat Israel ever since the UN partition and has failed every time.

    • S July 8, 2012 at 5:59 pm #

      I don't know many Jews who actually want to return to Baghdad, Tehran, or many of the other cities that you listed. If a desire actually existed, of course I would support it. I would even support the right of return to Hebron if Palestinians were allowed to return to their own respective hometowns in Israel (this is the basis for the one state solution). But all along I've said that I support the sustained right of return for Jews to Israel regardless of the final solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    • uncle yo-yo July 8, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

      God you are full of crap. And what happens when no Jew wants to return to the former state of Israel for the same reason all these Jews do not actually want to return to Baghdad, Tehran etc. (a desire for them and their family not to die)? Just say — oh well, c'est la vie?

      Are you seriously arguing — because that is effectively what you are saying — that the Arabs should be rewarded for cleansing all the Jews (too late to solve that problem!) and keeping Palestinians in misery in pursuit of their goal of Israel's destruction (hey look, they created a problem by refusing to treat Palestinians like every other refugee in history, let's support that decision!).

      One other thing, You are still playing from the “Lie Lie Lie at all costs” BDS Playbook. Having been forced to admit you support a right of return, you now pretend you only support a “viable” right of return. But S, you reveal yourself as a liar.

      Here is what you said above: “In my opinion, Israel's refusal to recognize the right of return doesn't make it undemocratic, just immoral.”

      First, note that you never say what you believe to be a “viable” right of return. BDSers never do that do they, because what they actually support is unfettered right of return (sometimes cloaked in “whatever Palestinians choose I will support”), but they can't say that without being revealed as pro-ethnic cleansing (of Jews only), so BDSers like you just continue to lie and obfuscate.

      Second, S is a very bad liar (and with all that practice too?). By using the language of morality, S actually forecloses compromise or a viable solution. If one side is immoral, why should you agree to any compromise (Would you agree to just allowing just periodic rapes with a rapist?). No matter how many time she lies, the truth is this: S is perversely willing to fight to the last Palestinian and Israeli for his/her supposed morals (after all, S is not Israeli or Palestinian, so risks nothing by keeping others in misery and conflict).

      S is a liar and a supporter of ethnic cleansing. Her actions, her words, her supposed principles all make that clear.

    • Anonymous July 8, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

      You know S. You are so full of it.

      Fizziks asked you a straight up question.

      Answer it or shut up already.

    • uncle yo-yo July 8, 2012 at 7:38 pm #

      Also, dig S's use of the term “final solution” Can't make this stuff up!

    • Sylvia July 8, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

      They can't return to countries that oppressed them robbed them of their properties and bank accounts, killed them expelled them and stripped them of their citizenship and mostly denied them as much as travel documents.
      What we want is for the solution for the Palestinian refugees to be linked and conditional to the solution of Jewish refugees from Arabo-Muslim lands.

      The radical Jewish Eurocentrist left knows that we have a case, and also that we, refugees from Arabo-Muslim countries in Israel, do not have another passport. Which is why the Jewish refugees of Arabo-Muslim lands have been scratched out out of existence by the racist eurocentrists such as Phil Weiss and acolytes.

    • fizziks July 8, 2012 at 8:45 pm #

      Oh for fuck sake, S, they CAN'T “return” to Hebron, Aden, Cairo, Baghdad, or Tehran, not even for a visit, because the local authority and citizenry will KILL them. Also because those governments do not recognize Israel at all and do not even have diplomatic relations with her.

      I would think that if you are SO concerned about the rights of refugees and their descendants that you would be absolutely up in arms about the inability of people to even visit the place where they or their grandfather was born. You would be boycotting, divesting, and protesting like crazy against such an evil government and polity, one that not only won't even let refugees visit but stole all their money as they left and is currently erasing their history.

      So where are the divestment resolutions? If you cared one bit about what you claim to care about, I want you to press the Presbyterians, the Methodists, the Quakers, and all of the food coops to immediately divest themselves of anything having to do with the support of such regimes and polities, countries that won't even let the people they kicked out and robbed come back for a visit, let alone recover their land and possessions. I want you to advocate for divestment from Egypt, Yemen, and Iraq until justice is given to these Jewish refugees. I want you to have an entire website dedicated to the “war of ideas in the Middle East” where you ceaselessly bring these regimes to task for what they have done and continue to do.

    • S July 8, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

      Firstly, I'm not sure why you can't comprehend the difference between the current statuses of Jewish refugees and Palestinian refugees. The descendants of Jewish refugees currently live in one of the most prosperous countries on Earth. Virtually none of them are seeking the right of return or even compensation for the crimes committed against them in the 1940s. A large portion of the Palestinian refugees are currently living in some of poorest, most densely populated areas on Earth, are denied citizenship, are routinely harassed, and have little to no socio-economic mobility in the countries in which they reside.

      Secondly, it really aggravates me when you group all of the Arab countries and people together and make absurd BS comments like ” the solution for the Palestinian refugees [should] be linked and conditional to the solution of Jewish refugees from Arabo-Muslim lands. ” Do you really believe that Palestinian peasants had any say in what the government of Yemen decided to do with its Jewish population? That's like saying that the British should be punished for the Holocaust because both the British and the Germans are European. I know that there were some tensions among religious groups in Palestine leading up to 48, but certainly not enough to condemn the majority Palestinian population to permanent loss of its homeland.

      Thirdly, the implementation of the right of return of Palestinian refugees (most experts predict that the number of Palestinians who would actually exercise this right is only in the hundreds of thousands) is not mutually exclusive with the protection of the rights of Jewish Israelis. Neither I nor any other true BDSer would accept a resolution to the conflict which fails to protect the full rights of all groups living in Israel-Palestine. It's certainly not undo-able, and it's frankly a poor excuse to continue the unnecessary suffering of hundreds of thousands of people.

    • DrMike July 9, 2012 at 12:07 am #

      On the contrary on a number of points, S:
      1. Jews kicked out from Arab countries damned well DO want compensation for what was taken from them; check out groups such as JIMENA. If you don't know that basic fact, then educate yourself.
      2. The insistence by the Palestinians and their BDS front groups are that ALL descendants of PalestiniAn refugees, forever, have the right to move to Israel regardless of what the government there says. A right is a right; by granting it, it is unlimited. You're the one spouting about”rights-based solutions”.
      3. BDS has at it's core denying the right of self-determination to theJewish people. And true BDSers are indeed seeking that. Because BDS only recognizes Palestinian “rights”. Not a word in the BDS manifesto about Jewish rights.
      4.There's only one reason why the creation of Israel led to denial of basic rights to the Palestinians; their leadership, backed by the Arab states, refused to accept a stare of Palestine preferring instead to try to kill the Jewish stare and its popation. They failed. Starting a war against your neighbors and losing does have its consequences. Do you think the Czechs should be forced to repatriate the Sudeten Germans? There is no “do-over” in history.
      Arafat was likewise given a state in exchange for the mere promise of peace, and couldn't even provide that.
      S is doing a very good job mouthing the snake oil platitudes of the BDSers. But as readers can see, it is not difficult to expose them for what they are. Yes, S, I do indeed know my sources. I don't always have to cite them (cumbersome on an iPhone) because you know them yourself.

    • Sylvia July 9, 2012 at 1:07 am #

      And do you really think any of us has a say in what the Lebanese or the Jordanian government decides to do with their Palestinian populations?

      Of course it aggravates you. Here you were thinking you can bring Israel down by inciting against American Jews and boycotting American companies. What counts is the power on the ground on which you have no influence whatsoever. The people who've been there and done that for 14 centuries.

    • fizziks July 9, 2012 at 1:34 am #

      S, this just keeps getting more amusing.

      Now you are justifying your lack of action on behalf of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries and their descendants in Israel by saying they are “doing great in one of the most prosperous countries on Earth.”

      If you truly believe that, I suggest you enlighten your Mondofront friends to that fact. Because all I ever read over there is how terrible Israel themostracistcountryever ™ is treating the people of Sephardi/Mizrahi descent. Oh they are suffering so greatly in the racist state that the Khazars set up! In fact, the brain trust at Mondofront claimed that the Israeli government is so devious as to have provided homesteads to the Mizrahim in Ashod and Ashkelon in the 50s and 60s, so that they would be in the path of Hamas rockets 50 years later.

      So since you seem to have come around to the opinion that the Sephardi/Mizrahi are doing quite fine in Israel, so much so that they are not entitled to any recompense for their grandparents in Arab countries being kicked out of their homes, robbed, and shot, you really need to fill your Mondofront buddies in on that! Because they say something completely different.

      Consistency! It is your friend, and lack thereof is your undoing.

  7. Sylvia July 6, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    I am glad in a way that they have boycotted. Because as people who base their statements on truth and hard facts, we have now a basis to pass to the attack mode. Now they are clearly the guilty party.

    We should expose their arrogance to sit in judgment of others, put Jews on trial, declare them guilty, and deliver a verdict: boycott. They proclaimed themselves Judges and Jury of aniother religion. The Presbyterians and the Methodists are the 21st century Inquisitors and this is how they should be referred to.

    We should point out that their debate on BDS of – exclusively – Israel, is no different of medieval disputations.
    We should closely examine the identity and the motives of the “Jewish” enablers who assured them that that “they have their back”. Who are they EXACTLY? What is their agenda? Most of us know but we are reluctant to speak so aqs not to sow division. We should speak out and let the world know who these people are.

    We must examine their methods and find an appropriate response: their favorite is the propaganda trick called “card stacking”: an endless litany of charges that mixes elements from the Palestinian narrative and outright lies, making it impossible for anyone to completely respond.

    And there are more possibilities.

    But given that Jewish Rabbis may be considering abandoning interfaith programs, I think we should support that at least witth regard to those churches that are BDS loyalists.

    • fizziks July 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

      Totally disagree. First of all, they DIDN'T boycott. It lost. Second of all, keeping the lines of communication open is our best way of combatting one sided BDS propaganda.

    • Anonymous July 6, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

      They did indeed vote to boycott settlement products. You lost.

    • Mark Kerpin July 6, 2012 at 6:19 pm #

      Anonymous moron: at least some of us are fine with a settlement boycott. That's not what BDS is campaigning for.

    • fizziks July 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

      Haha, in what universe did BDS advocate for a boycott of settlement products only? Certainly not this one.

  8. Sylvia July 6, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Anonymous at 1:18 pm
    “If a Christian doesn't support the most right-wing government in Israel's history you label them antisemitic.”

    S at 3:25 PM
    “and these vile accusations of anti-semitism”

    So far in this entire thread you are the only two doing the labeling and the accusing. Enough with the slander. Let us see some of those so-called “moral values” you're constantly and consistently brandishing.

    • S July 6, 2012 at 8:43 pm #

      It's not slander when it's the truth, my friend.

      The only slander rests in the notion that anyone who supports BDS is automatically anti-semitic.

    • fizziks July 7, 2012 at 2:43 am #

      Not everyone who supports BDS is automatically antisemitic.

      Only some people who support BDS are antisemitic. The rest are useful idiots for antisemites.

  9. Sylvia July 6, 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    Meanwhile, has anyone noticed the slap in the face of the Russell Tribunal and to Monsignor TouTou on the definition of apartheid? The Presbyterian General Assembly has adopted the classic definition of apartheid (racially-based discrimination) and consequently scratched the apartheid label that had been applied to Israel.

    • S July 6, 2012 at 10:36 pm #

      The Presbyterians never applied the apartheid label to Israel and thus they couldn't have scratched it. In fact, the only major changes the GA made in the PCUSA policy towards Israel were the implementation of the settlement boycott and the endorsement of the consumer choice option for pension holders to eliminate CAT, Motorola, and HP from their portfolios. Given how close we came to actual divestment (2 votes), I'm pretty optimistic that we will see more impressive victories two years from now. I might add that the publicity BDS generated through this event has been rather positive, including this NYT article in which the author didn't shy away at all from describing the occupation and these companies for what they are:


    • Sylvia July 6, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

      S – You should try and read something more reliable than the propaganda rag called “Mondoweiss- The War On Ideas in the Middle East”.

      Because as of tonight:
      1. Divestment is no longer an option “positive investment” was adopted instead.
      2. Boycott of settlement Ahava product is the only “victory” you can claim
      3. The “apartheid” label adopted by the Committee on the Middle East was rejected.
      4. The “choice option” for pension investment was declared non-realistic from a technical point of view.

    • Anonymous July 6, 2012 at 11:16 pm #

      Victories?? The BDS agenda lost. Period.You can wish all you want, loser, for what may happen in two years but in the meantime you keep losing time and again and people are getting sick of your bullying bullshit.I kind of feel sorry for you guys that you just can't seem to get a life.
      Point to whatever you want to distract from the fact of the enormous effort and money you guys spent on this vote, and you still lost!

    • Anonymous July 7, 2012 at 1:35 am #

      You mad? The money we spent surely couldn't have exceeded the money spent by our opposition. At PCUSA, we were the underdogs, as we always have been. But that's not really relevant to our current discussion, is it? The truth is, we have been winning recently, and I feel that the movement has become reinvigorated once again. First, the Quakers divested from Caterpillar. Then, MSCI dropped Caterpillar from its index (citing Israel as a major factor) leading to divestment by TIAA-CREF, and now we have made considerable progress with PCUSA with the passing of the aforementioned GA considerations. Obviously, I wish we had gotten the two additional votes we needed for divestment, but overall I think that PCUSA was a victory, albeit one that was a hair away from being even bigger.

      Finally, if you actually watched the GA, you would be surprised by how “bullied” the people who spoke against divestment seemed. We're not the bullies here.

    • Jen July 7, 2012 at 1:53 am #

      “overall I think that PCUSA was a victory”

      LOL, there it is.

    • DrMike July 7, 2012 at 5:22 am #

      Gee, the organized Jewish community just got some e-mail signatures on a letter and made some phone calls. They didn't send dozens of people to the GA.

    • Anonymous July 7, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

      Anon said, ‘Obviously, I wish we had gotten the two additional votes we needed for divestment’

      Let us do the math here. If the two abstentions had voted with the minority, that would have made the vote 333-333. This would have made the vote a tie, not a win. Or in other language, a stalemate, not a checkmate for the BDS.

      As has been proven over and over with the BDS crowd, math is not their strong suite, nor are facts.

      But that is okay. Their total lack of knowledge is what makes them easy to fight. Fortunately for us, there are more people of sound mind who know by now that the BDSers’ agenda is full of misinformation and misrepresentation.

      Keep up the bad work, BDS!

      SarahSue, proud American Jew

    • S July 8, 2012 at 1:52 am #

      I'm actually a math major. I didn't count the abstentions. If two commissioners who voted for the minority resolution had instead voted for the majority resolution (divestment), the resolution would have passed. Nice one.

  10. will spotts July 6, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    The issue of institutional PC(USA) anti-Israel bias and tolerance and sometimes direct indulgence in antisemitic themes is quite distinct from divestment. That is a preexisting and ongoing problem. It is not necessarily a major issue among the rank and file, but it has found a home in various national offices, networks, officials.

  11. Anonymous July 7, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    When the BDS crowd doles out there caring to the populations in the 10 most murderous countries in the world, they can be taken seriously, otherwise they are merely slick judophobes

  12. DrMike July 7, 2012 at 6:05 am #

    Jon– nice to see you published in Daily Beast http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/06/presbyterians-reject-divestment-take-four.html. First Gil Troy, and now you– is Beinart finally recalibrating?

  13. Anonymous July 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm #

    The anti-Israel lobbyists made cold calls to delegates at their homes- translated their racist documents into a half dozen languages- made matching t=-shirts for their staff- housed and fed dozens of their peers. They flew in the abhorent Hedy Epstein. The anti-israel lobbyists spent hundreds of thousands of dollars attempting to manipulate church groups this summer into doing their dirty work.

    They failed.

    But “we trended on Twitter” so the tide is turning. But “Bds is on a roll” But “even when we win, we lose”.

    The bottom line: they failed.

  14. Anonymous July 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm #

    ?Spin, In JVP's inimitable style:

    Sydney Levy, Jewish Voice for Peace Director of Advocacy congratulated the Presbyterian Church (USA) for its decision: “This vote signifies the mainstreaming of boycott as a way to oppose illegal Israeli settlements, and the Israeli occupation overall. This accomplishment is despite heavy-handed fear-mongering by the Jewish establishment that included threatening the future of interfaith cooperation and raising the specter of anti-semitism. The truth is, growing numbers of Jewish groups and individual Jews of conscience support some form of boycott and/or divestment as a strategic tactic to pressure Israel to end the human rights abuses of the 45-year-old occupation of Palestinian people and land.”

  15. Sylvia July 7, 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    But doesn't the rejection of the apartheid label pull the rug from under BDSers' feet?

    The rationale for BDS was that Israel being an apartheid state like South Africa it followed that Israeli and international companies complicit in Israeli apartheid had to be boycotted, divested from, and sanctioned.

    But now that the Conference has rejected the “apartheid” label, BDS has no longer a raison d'etre.

    Let them celebrate, that'll hit them when they sober up.

  16. Anonymous July 8, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    In the fallout of the PCUSA GA, JVP is now derisively being called 'Meretz' by its Palestinian clients. So much for the 'occupation and 'settlements' charade and pretend BDS victory, guys.

  17. Anonymous July 8, 2012 at 4:14 pm #

    Pro-Divestment Presbyterians Win By Losing (Really. Im serious. Thats their headline)


    • uncle yo-yo July 8, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

      Funny, but it's not like BDSers can claim to have won by, you know, actually WINNING.

  18. Anonymous July 10, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    At the BDS conference sponsored by the Birzeit society, held in California this weekend, these were the stated goals of the BDS movement:

    a. “The first one is to end the occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantle the Wall that is being currently built between the Palestinian Territories and the 1948 Territories.”
    b. “The second is to recognize the fundamental rights of the Arab Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality.”
    c. “The third is to respect, protect and promote the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”

    What in these stated goals acknowledges the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their ancient homeland? They are calling for the flooding of Israel (what they call the 1948 territories) with the grandchildren and great grandchildren of those who left over 6o years ago. They are not calling for these people to “return” to a Palestinian homeland- they are calling for them to displace the Jews who have called this area home for thousands of years.

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