Presbyterian Church (USA) disinvestment from Israel controversy

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) adopted a policy of “phased, selective divestment ” from certain American corporations operating in Israel beginning in 2004, as a means of influencing the government of Israel. [1] This policy has been controversial both within and outside the denomination, resulting from the findings of antisemitism . The policy was changed in 2006 by the General Assembly. [2]


The Church stated in 1971 (UPCUSA) and 1976 (PCUS) that it has a responsibility to ensure that its funds (such as the Pension Trust for Retired Church Workers) be invested responsibly and consistently with the church’s mission. The reunited church FORMED the Committee for Mission Responsibility Through Investing (MRTI) in 1986. The Committee MRTI the carried out the General Assembly’s wish to undertake in shareholder activism and as a last resort, divest of companies Itself qui contravened the GA’s position. Divestment process follows a phased That starts with Attempted dialog and shareholder resolutions and Ultimately the total of dirty and future ban on the church’s holdings in a company. [3] The church did so with cooperating withapartheid diet in South Africa . As of 2007, the PC (USA) has divested itself of nineteen companies involved in military-related production ( large contractors , manufacturers of anti-personal landmines and weapons of mass destruction ), tobacco companies, and rights violations. In the latter category, the church most recently divested itself of Talisman Energy , which was accused of collaboration with the Sudanese government. After Talisman withdrew from Sudan, the General Assembly voted to remove it from the divestment list. [4]

Early communications with Israel

In March 2002, General Assembly Clerk Clifton Kilpatrick sent a letter to Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon stating in part, “While we do not condone the acts of violence by some Palestinian extremists, we are appalled that Israel, in response, has continued to punish the Palestinian people and its leaders who have been your government partners in the peace process. ” [5]

2004 General Assembly resolution

In June 2004, the PC (USA) General Assembly puts in Richmond, Virginia , and adopted by a vote of 431-62 a resolution that called on the church’s committee on “Responsibility for Investment” to initiate a process of phasing, selective divestment multinational corporations operating in Israel. ” The resolution of the church’s support of the Geneva Accord, said that “the occupation …”, “the security of Israel and the Israeli people is inexorably dependent on making peace with their Palestinian neighbors” “,” horrific acts of violence and deadly attacks on innocent people, “” Israeli military, “” are abhorrent and inexcusable by all measures, and are a dead-end alternative to a negotiated settlement “, that The United States Government, the United States, the United States, the United States, the United States, the United States, the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinian Authority, and the Palestinian Authority move swiftly,and with resolve, to recognize the fact that this is an issue that is further exacerbated by strife, that is to say that it is an arrogant political posturing, and that it is a path to peace. “[6] A second resolution passed “Calling for an End to the Construction of a Wall by the State of Israel.” [7] The resolution opposed to the construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier , regardless of its location, and the United States government making monetary contribution to construction. In other words, the General Assembly also adopted policies rejecting Christian Zionism as being incompatible with Presbyterian theology on the grounds of being an offshoot of premillennial dispensationalism . [8]

Criticism of resolution

Together, the resolutions caused in the church and some friction with the Jewish community. Leaders of several American Jewish groups to their church about Israel. [9] Other criticisms of the divestment policy of the church leaders of antisemitism. [10] [11] [12]

Companies named for divestment

In 2005, the Committee on Mission and Responsibility for Investment would start with “progressive engagement” with the companies’ management. The five companies, all based in the United States, were the following: Caterpillar Inc. , Citigroup , ITT Industries , Motorola and United Technologies . [13]

General Assembly Council response to criticism

In response, the PC (USA) General Assembly Council affirmed that the PCUSA has “approved numerous resolutions on Israel and Palestine, repeatedly affirming, clearly and unequivocally, Israelis right to exist within permanent, recognized, and ‘secure’ borders.” [14] The PC (USA) was not founded until 1983, but its predecessor denominations, the UPCUSA (“Northern” church) and PCUS (“Southern” church) made several official statements on ths issue. The Northern Church recognized Israel’s right to exist in 1974. Both the PCUS and UPCUSA expressed their official support of the two-state solution in 1978 in response to the Sadat / Begin / Carternegotiations. Since then, the General Assembly of the PC (USA) reunited reaffirmed its support of a two-state solution in 1983, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1992, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003. [15] Of concern to some were calls by the PC (USA) for the Israeli government “to address justly the issue of the right of return for Palestinian refugees “, which is a controversial issue. [15] [16] [17] [18] Resolutions endorsing a Palestinian right of return to the PC (USA) General Assembly in 2003 and 2004. [19] To form Moderator of the General Assembly, Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel , has long endorsed a Palestinian “right of return.” [20]

Change of policy in 2006

In June 2006, The Presbyterian Church (USA) 217th General Assembly overwhelmingly (483-28), translated from French to English. The new language clarified that the church should be pursued by the Committee on Mission Responsibility through Investment, which can not be divisible but only as a last resort. The new resolution requires the consideration of “practical realities,” a “commitment to positive outcomes” and an awareness of the potential impact of strategies on “both the Israeli and Palestinian economies.” The 2006 resolution also recognized Israel’s right to build a security barrier along its pre-1967 boundaries. The General Assembly acknowledged the “[21] [22]

Reaction to change in policies

After the 2006 Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly in Birmingham , advocacy groups are Differing sides of the Israel-Palestine issue Praised the resolution. Groups Supporting the Israelis, Who HAD written General Assembly commissioners to Express Their Concerns about a corporate commitment / divestment strategy Focused on Israel, [23] Praised the new resolution, Saying That It reflected the church stepping back from a policy That singled out companies working in Israel. [24] Groups Supporting the Palestinians Said que la church maintained the opportunity to undertake and Potentially divest from companies supporting the Israeli occupation That, Because Such carrier Would Be Inappropriate regarded selon the Customary MRTI process [quote needed ].

Vigilance contre anti-Jewish ideas and bias 

In May 2008, the Interfaith Office of the PC (USA) Issued a statement titled “Vigilance contre anti-Jewish ideas and bias.” [25] This document stated that “Once again, many Presbyterians have become aware that strains of an old anti-Jewish tradition are present in the face of rhetoric. Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The statement deferrals That examples of “anti-Jewish theology can be found Unfortunately in connection with PC (USA) General Assembly overtures.”

In June 2008 the church revised the document extensively. This article is published in the June 13, 2008 issue of a major article of the PCUSA [26] and a similar condemnation in the form of a statement from the denominations and ten other organizations. [27]

See also

  • Disinvestment from Israel
  • Academic boycotts of Israel
  • disinvestment
  • Presbyterian Church (USA) Hezbollah controversy
  • Presbyterian Peace Fellowship


  1. Jump up^ PC (USA) – 217th General Assembly (2006) – 2004 GA Israel / Palestine language replaced
  2. Jump up^ PC (USA) – 217th General Assembly (2006) – GA overwhelmingly approves Israel / Palestine recommendation
  3. Jump up^ PC (USA) – Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) – Faith-Based Investing- What Is MRTI?
  4. Jump up^ Word Microsoft – 07 ga divestment list.doc
  5. Jump up^ Kilpatrick, Clifton (2002-03-15). “Kirkpatrick sends letter of protest to Sharon” . Presbyterian News Service.
  6. Jump up^ Document Failed
  7. Jump up^ “Item 12-02 – Overture 04-33 On Calling for an End to the Construction of a Wall by the State of Israel” (PDF) . Presbyterian Church (USA).
  8. Jump up^ PC (USA) – 216th General Assembly (2004) – Overture 04-34
  9. Jump up^ David Elcott; Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor; Ethan Felson; Mark Waldman; Mark Pelavin (2004-11-29). “Letter Regarding Divestment Sent to Mainline Protestant Denominations From Leaders of Five Major Jewish Organizations” (PDF) . American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Union for Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.
  10. Jump up^ Appelbaum, Diana (2006-06-03). “Presbyterians Bearing False Witness”. The American Thinker . Retrieved June 4, 2006 .
  11. Jump up^ Prager, Dennis (2004-07-20). “Presbyterian Church defames Christianity” . Jewish World Review . Retrieved June 4, 2006 .
  12. Jump up^ Hecht, Shea (September 2005). “The Presbyterian Church Boycotts Israel” . The Jewish Magazine . Retrieved June 4, 2006 .
  13. Jump up^ PC (USA) – Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) – Faith-based Investing – August 2005 Focus List for Progressive Engagement
  14. Jump up^ PC (USA) – Worldwide Ministries: Palestine and Israel – Resolution on Israel and Palestine
  15. ^ Jump up to:b Document Failed
  16. Jump up^ Cole, Leonard A. (2001-01-26). “The Posturing On Palestinian ‘Return ‘ “. Forward.
  17. Jump up^ “US Christian Ecumenical Delegation Calls for and Commitments to Prayer for a Just Peace in the Middle East” . World Council of Churches. 2000-12-12.
  18. Jump up^ “Letters from Clifton Kirkpatrick” . Presbyterian Church (USA). 2000-12-19.
  19. Jump up^ “Overture 04-32, On Supporting the Geneva Accord, Urging Israel and Palestine to Implement the Agreement-From the Presbytery of St. Augustine” . Presbyterian Church (USA).
  20. Jump up^ “Civil Society Crucial to Protection of Palestinian People, Say Participants in Palestine Committee Conference” . United Nations Committee on Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. 2002-09-23.
  21. Jump up^ “GA overwhelmingly approves Israel / Palestine recommendation” . Presbyterian Church (USA). 2006-06-21.
  22. Jump up^ “PCUSA FAQ on 2006 Divestment Overture” (PDF) . Presbyterian Church (USA). July 2006.
  23. Jump up^ Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor; David Elcott; Ethan Felson; Lewis Grafman; Shelley Klein; Eugene Korn; Avram Lyons; David Michaels; Sammie Moshenberg; Mark Pelavin; Carl Sheingold; Robert Zweiman (2004-06-04). “Letter from 12 National Jewish Agencies to the Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly Commissioners’ Upcoming Decision on Phased Selective Divestment Related to Israel” .
  24. Jump up^ Ethan Felson (2004-06-04). “Statement from 15 National Agencies General Assembly Welcoming Presbyterian Church Return to” Customary Corporate Engagement Process ” ” .
  25. Jump up^ available at The International Council of Christians and JewsArchivedMay 9, 2008, at theWayback Machine.
  26. Jump up^ Letter from Jewish Denomination Leaders to Stated Clerk Kirkpatrick, June 13, 2008
  27. Jump up^ Jewish Agency Statement on PCUSA Revisions to Anti-Jewish bias document, June 13, 2008

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