Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Presbyterian Debate Divestment in Detroit

Dear Friend,
The Presbyterian Church (PC/USA) will be voting later this week on divesting Pension funds from Hewlett-Packard, Caterpillar, and Motorola, companies profiting from the Occupation of Palestinian land.

Watch for results by this Saturday.

Here is an op-ed that appeared in today's edition of the daily newspaper in my hometown of Holland, MI, the Holland Sentinel.

Note that YOU are invited to the kickoff of the (new) KUSA-Holland community, on Tuesday night, July 8, 7:00 p.m. in the (lower) auditorium of the Holland Public Library. We will learn more about the destruction of the 1,500 fruit trees on the Nasser farm (Tent of Nations), in a national network of evangelical and ecumenical Christians, KUSA (the response to Kairos Palestine call for help.

(The headline was "Church Should Divest from Israel" which totally missed the point of the article. Read it and you'll see!). JRK

Presbyterians Debate Divestment at General Assembly

A Brief Overview/Summary by John Kleinheksel, KUSA-Holland Community

I want to cut through the rhetorical clutter swirling around the debate to divest in Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, and Caterpillar. It’s going on now in Detroit at the biennial General Assembly meeting.

The Israeli/Palestinian Mission Network, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and MRTI (the church’s advisory group on Church Pension investments) are urging divestment of Pension Funds from these companies that are “profiting from” and enabling the occupation of Palestinian land.

That the PCUSA has a long history of making these moral decisions on investment monies and that after 10 years of meetings with the three companies, they have shown no willingness to end business dealings with the Israeli government.

On Friday, June 13, a letter was sent to each of the GA commissioners urging them to vote against divestment because such a vote would imply that Presbyterians would be denying the right of Israel to exist!
Kairos Palestine (KPalestine in 2009) got all the diverse Christians in Palestine to “call for help” in righting wrongs.

Kairos USA (KUSA) picked up that “Call to Action” and seeks to enlist evangelical and ecumenical Christians to join their Palestinian brothers and sisters, demanding an end to discriminatory actions by the Israeli government. (Disclosure: “Friends of Palestinians and Israelis”)-FPI will be forming a KUSA-Holland MI chapter on July 8, beginning in the Holland Public Library, at 7:00 p.m, as we learn more about the destruction of 1,500 fruit trees at the Nasser (Tent of Nations) farm on May 19, 2014 by government forces, illegally, (with help from a modified D-9 Caterpillar bulldozer!)

The PC (USA) came within two votes of passing a similar divestment overture/recommendation at their 2012 General Assembly. My sense is that the momentum to divest has been growing, not diminishing and that the so-called “moderates” will not prevail. Moderates claim the divestment proponents leave no room for the State of Israel! Divestment proponents claim they want an end to human rights abuses, not the end of the Israeli State!

By now, you can see where my sentiments lay. “Moderation” (all talk and no bite) has been going on for over 60 years and the Occupation has strengthened, not diminished. I came kicking and screaming into the BDS movement years ago, convinced that because it worked in South Africa, it can work in I/P in the face of conditions that rival what blacks and coloreds faced in South Africa.

Hearts and minds are on display in Detroit this week. What is the Spirit saying to the churches?