New York, NY, June 27, 2016 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) expressed disappointment at a number of problematic Israel-focused motions endorsed last week by the Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly, including a report calling on the church to explore alternatives to the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and an overture advocating the church study the use of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
At the same time, ADL acknowledged their seeming endorsement of a two-state solution and welcomed their support of the right of both Jews and Palestinians to self-determination.
“We are deeply disappointed with the Presbyterian Church’s decision to embrace motions which forward arguments in favor of a bi-national state and of the anti-Israel BDS campaign,” said Rabbi David Sandmel, ADL Director of Interfaith Affairs. “Any alternative to the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would mean the demise of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, a view that is offensive to millions of Israelis and Jews around the world.
“The efforts by some in the church to vilify and demonize Israel, rather than promote dialogue and reconciliation, are particularly disturbing,” Rabbi Sandmel said. “Especially egregious was a video that compared Israeli security checkpoints to the Nazi cattle cars that transported Jews to concentration camps.”
The latest discussions within the Presbyterian Church (USA) focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are part of more than a decade of destructive debates within the church that have at times led to harsh and biased criticism of Israel.
ADL praised the efforts by grassroots clergy and laypeople who introduced amendments at the General Assembly that reasserted the Presbyterian Church’s support for the Jewish right to self-determination, and recognizing that the church “stands with the people of Israel, affirming their right to exist as a sovereign nation” just as they affirm such rights for Palestinians.
“We note with gratitude that, despite the efforts of a hostile leadership and activists within the church, rank and file members insisted on reasserting favorable language countering those views which was supportive of Israel’s legitimacy, the Jewish right to self determine and the promotion of Jewish-Christian relations,” Rabbi Sandmel said. “They believe – as do we – that it is time for the denomination to reclaim its historic commitment to peacemaking, dialogue and reconciliation.”
The General Assembly also voiced opposition to all efforts to deny the rights of the Jewish or Palestinian people to self-determination.