June 21, 2006 – New York – The American Jewish Committee applauds today’s decision of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to adopt a more constructive and positive approach to peacemaking in the Middle East, changing its course from its 2004 divestment resolution.
“Three years ago we reached out to the mainline Protestant churches to create a coalition for peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” said David Elcott, AJC’s U.S. Director of Interreligious Affairs. “AJC did not waver from this commitment even when the Presbyterian Church voted for divestment. The decision at the Presbyterian General Assembly to roll back its policies and to endorse constructive investment in peace profoundly validates AJC’s commitment to dialogue and engagement.”
The resolution, which passed by a vote of 483-28, ends the process set in motion by the 2004 Presbyterian General Assembly singling out Presbyterian investments in companies doing business in Israel for special scrutiny, a policy that might have led to divestment. Under the new resolution, investments in Israel and the Palestinian territories are to be subjected to the existing “corporate engagement” process of the church and evaluated by the same standards and process as other PCUSA investments in all other countries.
AJC also welcomes the Presbyterian Church’s acknowledgement of Israel’s right to protect its citizens as well as the church’s more constructive and nuanced approach to Israel’s security fence, which has saved the lives of untold numbers of Israelis and Palestinians.
“We are deeply moved by the Presbyterian Church’s acknowledgement of the damaging effects that its previous decision had on relations with the Jewish community and welcome the church’s renewed commitment to engage in positive peacemaking efforts,” Elcott said.
David Bernstein, an AJC official who was in Birmingham for the Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly, said, “We feel confident that this more positive approach will strengthen the Presbyterian voice and bring us closer together in advocating a peaceful two-state solution in the region. We thank our many thoughtful Presbyterian friends who showed great faithfulness to their interfaith partnerships and to fairness in the church’s approach to the Middle East."