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Statement by Rev. John B. Erthein
Elderton Presbyterian Church
Elderton, Pennsylvania

[Emphasis was added by JAT.]

"Concerning the issue of divesting from Israel: what especially troubled me about the General Assembly's action was that it happened at the same time that the Assembly passed an overture condemning Israel's "Wall" or security barrier. The impression I got was that the divestment action was connected to Israel's construction of this security barrier.

That concerns me greatly for this reason: since Israel began construction of its security barrier, suicide/homicide attacks by Arab terrorists have dropped nearly to zero within Israel itself. Israelis, including women and children, have a better chance of going about their business without fearing a sudden explosion that would maim or kill them. Israeli Arabs also benefit from this increased protection ... bombs have a tendency not to discriminate based on religion or ethnicity, after all, so stopping the suicide/homicide bombings is a good thing for all who reside in Israel.

Further, because of the drastic decrease in terrorist outrages against Israel, Israel has not launched any massive retaliatory strikes into the West Bank or Gaza. During these military actions, many Arab civilians have tragically been killed. Those fatalities too have been drastically reduced since the construction of the Israeli security barrier.

Nonetheless, our General Assembly has declared its opposition to Israel's security barrier, and has expressed its willingness to consider partial divestment from Israel. Implicitly, the General Assembly is telling Israel that it must make itself more vulnerable to terrorism today, so that tomorrow it might be safer (by compromising some more, showing good faith, and so on. I would argue Israel has already done such things, and has little to show for it). The intent behind these two GA votes may have been well-meaning, but the result is a terrible signal to Israel and to Jews worldwide: The PCUSA demands that Israel allow homicide/suicide bombings to resume by dismantling its security barrier. Otherwise, the PCUSA will work to increase economic pressure on Israel. "Let your people die some more, or we will punish your state."

The General Assembly may not have intended to send an anti-Semitic signal to the world, but can anyone blame Jews and other supporters of Israel for interpreting its actions in such a light?"

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