Messianic Jewish Groups Critical of Presbyterian Church (USA) Divestment Proposal

A group of Messianic Jewish leaders have signed an official statement denouncing Presbyterian Church (USA)'s consideration for divestment from companies doing business with Israel.

Released Thursday, the statement reaffirmed the leaders' commitment to supporting the modern state of Israel as the United States' largest Presbyterian denomination considers a divestment proposal at its upcoming General Assembly meeting.

"Amid continuing efforts to pressure and marginalize the state of Israel through boycotts and economic sanctions, the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly, meeting in Detroit, June 14-21, will consider proposals to pressure Israel through financial divestment," read the statement in part.

"Amid reports of growing worldwide anti-Semitism, the church's Israel/Palestine Mission Network offers 'Zionism Unsettled,' a study guide that explicitly delegitimizes Israel as a Jewish state. In the face of such actions, the international Messianic Jewish community expresses its unwavering support for the Jewish homeland in Israel."

Signatories for the statement included John Fischer, president of the International Messianic Jewish Alliance; Russell Resnik, executive director of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations; Paul Liberman, president of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America; and Frank Lowinger, chairman of the International Association of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues.

In January, the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment of PC (USA) sent a report to the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board recommending the addition of three companies to the denomination's General Assembly Divestment List.

The report recommended that Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions be added for their business connections to the Israeli Defense Forces' actions in the Palestinian Territories.

William Somplatsky-Jarman, Social Witness Ministries coordinator at the Presbyterian Mission Agency, told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that PC (USA) has divested from numerous businesses over "moral reasons."

"It should be added that the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Foundation/New Covenant Funds also proscribe investments in alcohol, gambling and manufacturers of hand guns," said Somplatsky-Jarman.

"We are focused on companies involved in non-peaceful pursuits (roadblocks to a just peace) as defined by the General Assembly."

The divestment resolution will be voted on at the 221st PC (USA) General Assembly, scheduled to be held in Detroit, Michigan beginning Saturday and concluding on June 21.

The biennial meeting will bring representatives of PC (USA)'s 173 regional bodies, or presbyteries, to the Motor City to vote on overtures focused on various positions and proposals for the denomination.

Debate over the divestment proposal can be found among the comments posted on the PCUSA General Assembly events webpage.

"Divesting from companies that support a repressive military occupation and the illegal colonization of an occupied territory seems quite reasonable to me," wrote Stephen Zunes.

"Furthermore, there is a similar resolution being considered regarding companies supporting Morocco's illegal occupation and colonization of Western Sahara, so this idea that Israel is somehow being unfairly singled out is bogus."

"The BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) argument is biased against Israel and grossly unfair because it chooses to ignore the aggression that Israel has endured from the Palestinians since Israel became a nation in 1948," commented Earle Moreland.

This is not the first time PC (USA) has considered divesting from companies doing business with Israel. In 2012, at the 220th General Assembly, PCUSA delegates narrowly defeated a divestment resolution, with 333 voting against the overture, 331 voting for, and two abstentions.