Simon Wiesenthal Center Condemns Proposed Divestment by Leading Protestant Denomination of Major US Firms Doing Business With Israel

September 12, 2011

The Simon Wiesenthal Center condemns the recommendation of a Presbyterian Church-USA (PCUSA) committee to divest funds from three major US companies – Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola [Solutions] for doing business with the only Middle East nation that guarantees the rights of religious minorities, the Jewish state of Israel.

PCUSA, an influential Protestant denomination, was the first mainline church to pass a divestment resolution in 2004, but it was rejected by laity in 2006. Anti-Israel interest groups within the church have attempted every two years to find new ways to intimidate and punish the Middle East’s only democracy that protects religious minorities, while ignoring the murder and persecution of Christians, women and gays in countries throughout the region.

“This hateful act helps not a single Palestinian. It is a political gambit wrapped in theological garb and part of a worldwide campaign to promote the canard that Israel is an apartheid state, not the sole democracy in the terror and hate-riven Middle East," charged Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center. "When a million people recently were forced to suffer through 100 missiles over a single weekend, targeting their homes, schools and synagogues, in Israel’s heartland, PCUSA was silent,” Cooper added. “Yet even as Americans gathered to remember what jihadis did to us on 9/11, PCUSA 'activists' plot ways to further embolden the terrorists of Hamas. In the end, the hatred of Israel shown by groups within PCUSA will only succeed in pushing any possibility of peace and reconciliation between the peoples of the Holy Land further into the distant future.”

Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, the Center’s Director of Interfaith Affairs, attended last year’s PCUSA General Assembly and participated in what Church leaders called an historic new time of fairness, balance and cooperation. “So much for fairness. This initiative, should the rank and file adopt it, will damage frayed interfaith relations. We can only hope that Presbyterians will once more beat back the deception and doublespeak that the proposed divestment represents and firmly reject the recommendation at the Church’s next General Assembly, next summer,” he added. “Meanwhile Jewish leaders, who have invested so much time in dialogue in pursuit of balanced policies on the Middle East will be more guarded and less trusting in their dealings with PCUSA leadership,” Rabbi Adlerstein concluded.

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, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino).

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