Evangelicals Reject World Council Of Churches' Call For Economic Pressure On Israel

March 3, 2005


Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), has urged Christians everywhere to disregard the recent World Council of Churches (WCC) statement encouraging economic divestment from the Israeli-Palestinian disputed territory.

Haggard said, “Because of the complexity in this situation, we are grateful for the thoughtful and competent leaders who are currently striving to create peace, justice and hope for prosperity in that region. The WCC’s action will undermine their efforts. It is unfortunate that in this particular case, secular political authorities seem to be operating on higher moral ground than Christian leaders at the WCC.”

Earlier, the Simon Wiesenthal Center blasted the call by the governing body of the Geneva-based World Council of Churches (WCC) to divest from companies that profit from the Israeli presence in the West Bank and Gaza as a strategy to bringing peace to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

"It is almost beyond belief that the WCC would promote such punitive, one-sided measures at a time when Israel prepares to unilaterally evacuate all settlements in Gaza and  released hundreds of Palestinian prisoners who aided and abetted terrorism," said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Center. "PA President Abbas has declared that the war with Israel is all but over. But apparently," Cooper added, "that doesn't extend to these elites whose bias against the Jewish State has once again been resoundingly confirmed."

"Israel is not and never was an apartheid South Africa and it's about time the WCC end its reckless policies that only hurt the innocent and encourage the extremists," Cooper concluded.

The Wiesenthal Center reiterated its call for Church activists on both sides of the Atlantic to give peace a chance and drop divestment plans.

In the statement, the WCC acknowledged the divestment plan by the U.S. Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) as a model for their plan. In a letter last week to Reverend Clifton Kirkpatrick of the PCUSA , the Wiesenthal Center noted that the divestment plan creates both a deeper crisis with the Jewish community and more divisiveness within the Church itself. The Center cited a recent poll that showed that only 25% of Presbyterians support divestment.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, and the Council of Europe.

For more information, please contact the Center's Public Relations Department, 310-553-9036, or visit the website at www.wiesenthal.com.