Sunday, July 8, 2012

Positive Investment and Boycotts Ahead

Dear Friend,

Full Speed Ahead on Boycotts and Positive Investments in Palestinian Economy

John Kleinheksel Sr (FPI)

Reflections on decisions made at the Presbyterian (PCUSA) General Assembly and the RCA General Synod are being clarified. Here is the latest in seeking a truer understanding of what really happened and where folks like us go from here.

Mainline media headlined the “defeat” at General Assembly of the motion to divest in companies profiting from the occupation of Israel of Palestinian land.

What the headlines failed to convey was the overriding approval by GA to boycott Israeli products coming from the settlements built on Palestinian land. Here is James Wall’s observation on what happened at G.A:

As one astute veteran of General Assembly politics observed, there really was no vote on the majority report [to approve positive investment and divest in companies profiting from the Occupation] that came before the General Assembly. The 333-331 vote was on the minority report [seeking to defeat the disinvestment part].

The leaders of the pro-investment forces at the GA succeeded in technically refusing to allow a debate on the majority report by substituting the minority motion for “positive investment”, a term favored by the anti-divestment forces.

As a result, the substitute motion was the only resolution voted on by the GA.

This was hardly the victory for Israel and its American backers which was claimed by main stream U.S and Israeli media. A more important defeat for Israel came when the GA voted 457 to 180 to call on Presbyterians to boycott Israeli businesses operating on occupied territory (James Wall, blog).

At the RCA’s General Synod, three recommendations that call the RCA to renewed work toward a just peace in Israel and Palestine passed by a sizeable margin. Delegates voted:

1) to affirm the statements of previous General Synods, (reaffirming Israelis' rights to live in a safe state and Palestinians' right to statehood),

2) to advocate for an end to violence that includes an end to the Israeli occupation and the removal of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, and,

3) to restart a volunteer network called Middle East Peacemakers, urging each Classis to identify someone to participate in the network.

John Paarlberg, who presented the report of the Working Group for Peace and Justice in Israel and the Occupied Territories to General Synod said:

Our hope is that this report might be another step in leading people in the Reformed Church in becoming more personally involved in justice and reconciliation for the people of Israel and Palestine.

Going forward then, efforts in the Reformed (RCA), Presbyterian, Lutheran (ELCA), United Methodist (UMC, United Church of Christ (UCC) will join the Quakers (and others) in concentrating on the following areas:

1) Identify products to be boycotted from illegal settlements and make them widely known.

2) Work on a Classis (RCA), Presbytery (PCUSA) and district (ELCA, UMC, UCC) level through Networks bringing greater visibility to this issue.

3) Work with Palestinians on ways that “positive investment” might help Palestinians gain more of a foothold in the face of Israeli occupation.

4) Work with KUSA (Kairos USA), End the Occupation, and others to bring about equal rights to Palestinians who have been downtrodden for decades and decades.

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