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July 9, 2010: Statement on PCUSA General Assembly

Posted by JCPA  

02:26 PM Jul 09, 2010

MINNEAPOLIS - The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), the consensus voice of the organized American Jewish community, today joined a coalition of 13 Jewish organizations to respond to the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s actions relating to the Middle East at its 219th General Assembly. 

JCPA Vice President Ethan Felson was in attendance this week at the Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly in Minneapolis.

Joining JCPA in this statement are: American Jewish Committee; American Jewish Congress; B'nai B'rith International; Central Conference of American Rabbis; Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization; The Jewish Federations of North America; Jewish Reconstructionist Federation; National Council of Synagogues; Rabbinical Assembly; Simon Wiesenthal Center; Union for Reform Judaism; and United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.  Click here to view the statement.

In recognizing Israel's security needs while striving to remain faithful to the church's Palestinian Christian partners, the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has embraced a more thoughtful approach to Middle East peacemaking.

As friends of Israel and supporters of peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians, we were deeply concerned about the Middle East Study Committee (MESC) Report and several proposed resolutions including endorsement of the Kairos Palestine document.

However, modifications to the report and rejection of Overtures calling for the use of divestment and labeling Israeli policy as apartheid demonstrate a desire for broader understanding in the quest for peace.  The revised and adopted MESC Report unambiguously recognizes Israel's right to exist as a sovereign nation within secure and internationally recognized borders - as well as Israel's need to stem the flow of weapons into Gaza.  The PCUSA only endorsed ostensibly positive parts of the Kairos Palestine document - written by a group of Palestinian Christians - and not other elements including a call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions.  The church called for the study of multiple authentic Israeli and Palestinian narratives and rationales under the guidance of a newly appointed monitoring committee.  It did not adopt as policy several theological and historical narratives that had been the cause for much concern.

Serious concerns remain about some aspects of the MESC report and other actions including the unfortunate referral for further study of a well-considered paper on Presbyterian-Jewish relations.  That said, the General Assembly has modeled a more inclusive voice on the Arab-Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  We fervently hope that the new Middle East monitoring committee will meet the GA's charge for authentic balance in the study of and teaching about the complexities of the Middle East. We will remain partners in this pursuit.  The parties to the conflict deserve nothing less.

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