JAT Action Alert: 24 August 2004

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DATE:      24 August, 2004
TYPE: Action Item
SCOPE: Global
SUBJ: Demand That Presbyterians Call Special Assembly

We must demand that the Presbyterian Church USA call a Special Assembly to rescind the resolution recently passed by their General Assembly to divest from Israel.

We call on JAT members to support the politically responsible Presbyterians who are now working to convene a Special Assembly for that purpose.


  1. Write to Presbyterian leaders demanding that they call a Special Session of the General Assembly to rescind the divestment resolution. This includes the officials listed below with their contact information.
  2. Ask Presbyterians whom you know personally to sign the petition to call a special assembly. Inform them of the petition at:


    This is a petition written by Presbyterians calling upon the General Assembly Commissioners to convene a Special Session of the General Assembly to rescind the divestment resolution. (Only Presbyterians should sign it, but we can make sure that Presbyterians in our communities know about it.)
  3. Presbyterians and non-Presbyterians should sign and circulate the general petition calling on the Presbyterian church to reverse its resolution to divest from Israel:



Rev. Victor Makari
Coordinator for the Middle East

Jay Rock
Coordinator for Interfaith Relations
Presbyterian Church (USA)
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202

Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick
Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church, USA
Presbyterian Church (USA)
100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, Kentucky 40202


Please try to draft a message or letter in your own words making use of the ideas here.

Dear Rev. Kirkpatrick,

I am writing to ask that you call a Special Assembly to reverse the recent decision to divest from Israel.

Calling for divestment from Israel while simultaneously voting to ensure that "resources and economic aid are made available to the Palestinian people," is morally wrong.

As peace activist and Princeton Professor of Philosophy Michael Walzer has said, "The current boycott campaign against Israel, modeled on the 1980s campaign against South Africa, aims at a very one-sided delegitimation. And because the other side isn't led by an organization remotely like the African National Congress, or by a man remotely like Nelson Mandela, the success of this campaign would be disastrous. It would strengthen the forces fighting the... Palestinian war to destroy the state of Israel."

I trust that you will prayerfully contemplate the motivation behind the General Assembly's decision to divest from Israel, a democracy that is the only Jewish nation state, while, in the same resolution, urging that increased "resources and economic aid are made available to the Palestinian" people, even though the Palestinian Authority actually operates a government department in charge of launching suicide bombers to attack Israeli civilians -- the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

I urge you to call immediately for a Special Assembly to rescind the divestment resolution.

Sincerely yours,


At the July General Assembly, the Presbyterian Church USA voted to demand the "right of return" of "Palestinian refugees" to their "homeland," to condemn construction of the security fence, and to initiate a policy of divestment from Israel.

Although this church has divested from specific corporations, it has not divested from any nations except Israel and South Africa. Church leaders, to their disgrace, have frequently accused Israel of "apartheid."

The Presbyterian leadership at the national level has long been aggressively anti-Israel. The church leaders do issue pro-forma statements about Israel's right to exist in secure borders. However, in the context of the flood of anti-Israel actions taken by these Church leaders, these statements mean little.

Most Presbyterians believe that Israelis and Americans have the right to defend ourselves when attacked, but many leaders of the Church take extreme positions, declaring that all use of arms is immoral, even in self-defense.

Many Presbyterians are disturbed by the extreme anti-Israel nature of the Church's resolutions. Polling data show that Presbyterians overwhelmingly support a two-state solution, and would oppose the destruction of Israel that is implicit in the "right of return" that Presbyterian leaders now demand.

Therefore, the most useful action that can be taken is for friends of Israel to meet with members of the Presbyterian Church, USA, and urge them to reverse this decision.

Concrete requests that you can make of Presbyterian Churches in your area include scheduling honest, informative speakers about the Middle East, and requesting that the Church convene a Special Assembly to rescind the divestment resolution.

Note: The Presbyterian Church, USA (http://www.pcusa.org/) is the largest Presbyterian Church. It has been losing members rapidly in recent decades. It now numbers 2.5 million members but controls $7 billion in invested assets, and it has great prestige. The Presbyterian Church in America broke from the Presbyterian Church USA over the older denomination's lack of devotion to the gospel. Several smaller groups of Presbyterians have also broken away. The Presbyterian Church of Canada has stated that it has no intention of divesting from Israel.

It is important to ascertain which denomination your local Presbyterian Church belongs to. All PC-USA churches are listed at the PC-USA website (click on "congregations").

Information on the anti-Israel actions undertaken by the national leadership of the Presbyterian Church is posted at the JAT website.

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