The Presbyterian community known as the PC(USA) representing 1.8 million American Christians in over 10,000 churches has voted to approve the divestment of funds from three American companies that are resourcing Israel’s continued military presence within the Palestinian territories: Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard. Simultaneously, the PC(USA) has increased its commitment to resourcing a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Their decision for divestment is a non-violent direct action intended to starve the economic engine behind the occupation.
Their commitment to just peace is a clear message that the PC(USA) is moving toward a pro-people, pro-peace posture and practice.
In this moment of dissonance for the PC(USA) family, hopeful for some and discouraging for others, we humbly offer three thoughts for encouragement and to resource the road forward.
1. A Pro-People Decision :: Your decision for divestment is a decision to divest from three American companies NOT a decision to divest from the people of Israel. This historic decision that you made is a decision FOR both the Israelis and the Palestinians, and it’s also a decision FOR you. When we contend for the flourishing of others through courageous non-violent action, everyone benefits and God’s fame increases in the world.
2. Invest in Israeli/Palestinian Peacemaking Initiatives :: Your commitment to just peacemaking could look like investing the funds that have been divested in initiatives that are actively seeking to heal the severed relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. Imagine the message it would send and what could happen if the PC(USA) got behind Israeli and Palestinian peacemaking initiatives like:
- The Tent of Nations, Daoud Nasser
- Holy Land Trust, Sami Awad
- Vision Association for Culture and Arts, Milad & Manar Vosgeuritchian
- The Parents Circle Forum
- Jerusalem Peacemakers, Eliyahu McLean
3. Invest in local Jewish/Muslim Relationships :: If ever there was a time to invest in local Jewish and Palestinian Muslim relationships, it’s now. In the wake of this decisions, rather than avoiding your Jewish friends and colleagues, invite them to help you understand how they are processing it and find practical ways to join them and our Muslim brothers & sisters in walking our common ground of love of neighbor. Imagine the message it would send if PC(USA) churches all over the country humbly turned toward their Jewish and Muslim neighbors. Our friends Jamie and Michelle Wilson of Coast Vineyard in San Diego, CA are doing an incredible job and could serve as guides for this journey.
4. Invest in Understanding :: We encourage the PC(USA) family to leverage this decision as a culture-shaping, theology-reforming, disciple-making moment for your churches. Humbly and intelligently immersing your communities into the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to learn from the peacemakers embedded within will deepen their understanding of this conflict, grow their compassion for Israelis and Palestinians as well as local Jews and Muslims, and form them into everyday peacemakers. In addition to our Learning Labs which offer this exact training, we endorse our friends at The Telos Group as a world-class resource for your journey.
- Enter our Women’s-only Learning Lab immersing into Israel/Palestine in October, 2014.
- Enter our Israeli/Palestinian Learning Lab in January, 2015.
- Enter our Israel/Palestine Influencers/Leaders Lab in February 2015, designed for leaders of faith communities and organizations.
- Contact us about designing an Israel/Palestine Learning Lab for your community.