Media sleuths have lined up to hear what Jews are saying about the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. General Assembly's resolution to divest investment funds from companies doing business with Israel. But they have missed the more interesting story. The much stronger and greater protest is coming from rank-and-file Presbyterians.
The resolution implies that Israel, the only democracy in the region, and a country that allows unrestricted freedom of worship to Christians, should be stigmatized as apartheid. Initial coverage of the resolution included statements by supporters predicting that divestment would be effective to bring Israel to its knees, just as it did to South Africa. (Recent attempts by Stated Clerk Clinton Kirkpatrick to smooth over this point will fall on deaf ears. In a letter to Bill Clinton in 2000, Kirkpatrick himself called Israel a place where "Palestinian Christians and Muslims [are] forced to live under a clear form of apartheid.")
Besides being morally offensive, the resolution will also be counterproductive. Instead of bringing people on both sides closer to negotiations, it will do the opposite. It will embolden both terrorists and lawless elements in the growing chaos of the Palestinian leadership, while sending a message to Israel that she had better toughen up, because even salt-of-the-earth Americans are losing their moral compass.
You don't have to be a spiritual rocket scientist to figure out that millions of Jews are upset. Because it is predictable, it is not much of a story.
Less predictable, however, is the reaction of many ordinary Presbyterians, who in far greater numbers have been expressing their vehement objections to the decision of a church leadership that may have lost touch with its own membership. ...1