Jerry Markatos submission to the News & Observer 6-27-2014
After decades of US-supported occupation, including UN vetoes giving cover to Israeli land theft, burning of crops, home demolitions and uprooting of the very symbol of peace -- the olive tree -- an outbreak of ethical concern in our country is pressing for a just peace between Israel and what’s left of Palestine.
The world’s war industries are not happy with efforts at peaceful resolution of differences, and our media do little to inform us of steadfast and brave, nonviolent efforts to achieve a just peace. Yet new groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, and Young Jewish and Proud, were among the advocates at Presbyterian General Assembly supporting moral action against profiting from occupation.
A friend at Duke Divinity School had a button on his bulletin board with the message,
“Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” I just searched for its origin and found it quoted by everyone from business leaders to justice advocates. The most interesting citation was at sermoncentral.com, where it was rephrased as “Lead, follow, AND get out of the way!” Isn’t that what’s needed for a sustainable peace?
The Presbyterians have studied, debated, and applied their long standing investment rules.
What will the rest of us do to help?
Miriam Thompson submission to the New York Times 6-25-2014
The June 21st front page article provided a fair and comprehensive analysis of the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s General Assembly vote to divest from 3 U.S. companies that profit from military contracts with Israel: Caterpillar, Inc. Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. Counter to the voices from the institutional leaders of the Jewish community who view the Divestment resolution as expressing a deep animus against both the Jewish People and Israel, I was heartened as a Jew to read the article's reference to the participation in the General Assembly of pro-divestment Jewish Voice for Peace whose growing numbers reflect another lens through which to view an important debate in the Jewish community. JVP's Rabbinic Council, whose voices eschew extreme rhetoric, point to the resolution's unequivocal reaffirmation of Israel's right to exist, living "alongside a free, viable and secure state for the Palestinian people." As the U.S. brokered peace talks near collapse, increasing numbers of faith communities see select divestment as the only hope to ending the Israeli Occupation and well documented human rights violations, including settlement expansion, demolition of Palestinian homes, restricted access to and contamination of water, and detentions without trial. Continued Occupation is the real threat to Israel's security, democracy and world standing.
Sam Bryan submission to the New Your Times 6-21-2014
The brouhaha surrounding the divestment overture at the Presbyterian (USA) meeting in Detroit is a case study in the apt observation that one would rather be criticized by one's mother than one's mother-in-law. So when the Presbyterian divestment overture implicitly criticized the Israeli government for its human rights violations, it is not surprising that this did not sit well with Rabbi Rick Jacobs, who had been invited to address the assembly. Rabbi Jacobs reacted to the divestment action as “outrageous” and having a “devastating impact” on the relations between the church and the mainstream Jewish community. He did not rebut the criticism. It seems clear that he just didn’t like hearing criticism from these Presbyterian “mothers-in-law.”
While I, a Presbyterian, appreciate that the pro-Israel camp would rather the criticism of the Israeli government come from the Jewish quarter, that is no reason for the church leaders to remain silent.