At its recent Assembly, Presbyterian Church leadership voted to divest all its stock holdings in Israeli companies as a measure of punishment to Israel for its "occupation" of Palestinian lands. In the wake of considerable protest on the part of Presbyterians, members of other Christian faiths and Jews, two of these leaders, Moderator of the Assembly, Rick Ufford-Chase, and Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church, Clifton Kirkpatrick, offered explanations of this action on the Church's website (http://www.pcusa.org/israelandjewishrelations/). For several reasons, outlined in this response to the Church by FLAME Director, Jim Sinkinson, these explanations fail to satisfy. If you are outraged by this anti-Israel action by the Presbyterian Church, as we are, please write to the Church at its email address, email@example.com:
September 3, 2004
Rick Ufford-Chase and Clifton Kirkpatrickor:
I want to thank you for taking the time to explain the Church's position on divestiture of investments in Israel on your website, but while your sentiments seem sincere and articulate, they are still deeply offensive to me as a Jew and a supporter of Israel. There are two fundamental problems with the logic you apply in your position statements:
First, you speak of Israel's "occupation of Palestinian lands." As you must know, the concept of lands that belong to Palestinians is a fabrication — it is simply untrue. The Palestinians did not identify themselves Palestinians until after the 1967 war, a war in which control of the disputed territories was lost by Jordan and Egypt. Since the Palestinians never controlled this territory, please explain to me and to the world, at what point did the land become Palestinian? Did it become Palestinian the day that Jordan and Egypt lost this war? In fact, this is when a group of people decided to call themselves Palestinians and lay claim to land that they never owned and never controlled. Thus, legally and historically there is no such thing as Palestinian lands. In other words, you base your entire argument on a supposition that is either flatly erroneous or, at best, specious. (This is not to say that there shouldn't be a Palestinian state, but only to say that such a state can only emerge from peaceful negotiations with Israel, not through violence.)'
Second, you say that Israel's "occupation" of the territories is an impediment to peace. To the extent that Israel occupies the territories, it is in self-defense. This is for two reasons: The smaller point is that if Palestinians have the right to live in peace in Israel (and more than 1.5 million do), then certainly Jews have a right to live in peace in the territories, no matter who eventually gains sovereignty over the territories. Unfortunately, Palestinian terrorists constantly kill innocent Jews living in the territories. Therefore, one reason Israeli troops remain in the territories is to defend these people. But the larger point is this: Israel is under daily attack, primarily by Islamic terrorist groups like Islamic Jihad and Hamas, whose avowed goal is not "liberation of the territories," but the destruction of Israel. These groups broadcast this intention daily, and surely you must acknowledge it. (By the way, in recent polls, the majority of Palestinians say they believe there should be no Jewish state in the region.) Clearly, Israelis "occupy" the territories to defend the state of Israel against those who would destroy it.
Gentlemen, it is said that if the Arabs put down their arms, there would be peace, but if Israel put down its arms, there would be no Israel. Do you doubt this for one minute? Based on the vicious, highly public anti-Semitism that reigns in Arab countries, the history of Arab-initiated wars against Israel since its inception, and the clearly stated goal of armed Palestinian forces to destroy Israel, your call for the divestiture of investments in Israel seems perverse, mean spirited and distinctly un-Christian. I hope you will consider changing this position.