I was going to title today’s post “The Presbyterian’s Await,” until I realized that this title (and virtually everything I was planning to say as the Presbyterians gather in Detroit for their 2014 General Assembly) already appeared on this site in 2012.
In other words, what needs to be said about the appalling situation in which a church that has voted down divestment four times over the last eight years and is being now asked to do vote on the matter again has pretty much already been said by me, by others within the church, by those who left the church after losing patience with the endless corruption they had to endure, and by the Jewish community sick and tired of being punched in the face by a group of single-issue partisan hacks trying to force their ghastly political message into the mouth of the Almighty.
The BDS strategy this year is pretty much the same as the one they used in 2012: pack the committee that will draft whatever Middle-East-related resolutions the General Assembly will be voting on (this time around going so far as to get a moderate moderator of that committee kicked off so that anti-Israel bias will not be challenged or checked) in order to present their pre-determined committee report to the General Assembly for approval (thus eliminating the possibility for a straight up-and-down vote on divestment, which tends to always go badly for the BDSers).
In 2012, the Assembly took the extraordinary step of rejecting the committee’s majority report and substituting a minority report in its place, effectively killing divestment for another two years. This was the vote people talk about as being won by just two ballots, and the hope this time around is that by narrowing people’s choices and flooding the GA with partisans insisting they not reject whatever the majority of that aforementioned packed committee delivers again, they can eke out a Yes vote that can then be presented as the will of the entire Presbyterian Church.
If such political chicanery strikes you as unworthy of an institution claiming to speak on behalf of God, welcome to the world of Presbyterian politics where the boycotters, in collusion with a thoroughly corrupt leadership, is willing to screw church members, screw interfaith partners, and screw their own institution as it sinks ever further into oblivion, just so Anna Balzer can brandish the scalp of PCUSA as she and her allies travel the globe to spread the message of “The Presbyterians agree with us that Israel is an Apartheid State, so you should divest too!!!!!” leaving the church they just corrupted alone to deal with the fallout of a decision the boycotters forced them to make.
This, of course, assumes that the BDSers’ cynical strategy for PCUSA will work this time around, and perhaps it will given that many members who may have voted this whole mess down in previous GAs have either died or left the church in disgust in the last 2, 4 or 8 years.
But we have also seen more excess this year from a set of partisans so drunken with expectations of their own success that they let the mask fall, by screwing propriety in their muscling out of a committee chair they couldn’t control, by publishing an unvarnished version of their own thinking in which not just Israel but Zionism (and substantial portions of Judaism) are depicted in Medieval terms (cheered on by David Duke), and by badgering delegates in their homes in their quest for a Yes vote. And, as we’ve seen in student council votes where leaders complained of being bombarded with endless communication, “flooding the end zone” has not always sat well with those neutral audiences the BDSers are trying to convince.
I don’t think I can bring myself to provide blow-by-blow coverage of this year’s GA, not because of pessimism over the outcome but because of fatigue in watching the same movie for an umpteenth time. (Although that might change as the drama of the event unfolds.)
And frankly, I’m not even all that fretful about a potential “Yes” vote since all that would mean was that after ten years of effort the BDSers have simply gotten to where they a decade ago. And, unlike in 2004, everyone is aware that such a vote simply means partisan corruption within the church reached a point where it was able to overwhelm the wishes of the people in the pews expressed in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012 in anti-divestment votes the boycotters subsequently ignored.
And if they are free to claim (or pretend) that votes that went against them are meaningless, why can’t we?