AJC regrets that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), at its biennial General Assembly (GA), reaffirmed its support for BDS by adopting a measure opposing anti-BDS legislation.

“The Church remains obsessively critical of Israel in its national utterances,” said Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations. “For many years and in myriad ways, the PCUSA has gone beyond legitimate criticism of Israel and embraced demonization of the Jewish state.”

The PCUSA GA, meeting in St. Louis, approved an overture whose rationale includes a call to condemn the Balfour Declaration as unjust and accuses Israel of practicing apartheid; rejected the evenhandedness of an overture calling for the protection of both Israeli and Palestinian children; and disapproved an overture calling for an end to the description of Israel as a “colonial project” in Church publications. All but two of the 13 overtures and resolutions about the Middle East region focused on Israel.

On the other hand, Marans continued, “There was a glimmer of hope for future Presbyterian-Jewish relations at this GA that could represent a tentative first step toward the Church heading in a better direction.” A particularly egregious overture that misleadingly described American Jewish leaders’ attitudes and called for curtailing dialogue with Israel supporters was replaced with one that called for open and truthful interfaith dialogue.

AJC, the global Jewish advocacy organization and a pioneer in interreligious relations, remains grateful for its Presbyterian friends who have labored hard to change the course and tone of anti-Israel deliberations and have mitigated anti-Israel resolutions and overtures at successive PCUSA GAs. “These friends are far more representative of the current state of Presbyterian-Jewish relations than the biennial demonization of Israel at GAs,” said Marans.

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