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July 5, 2012

Jewish Voice for Peace Lobbying Hard for Church Divestment

Update: The Presbyterian Church voted against divestment late Thursday evening, July 5. While ADL welcomed the decision, we are troubled that the issue was decided on such a narrow vote (333-331 with 2 abstentions) and that the debate was biased from start to finish with vehement anti-Israel sentiment.  

Jewish Voice for Peace has been a highly visible and vocal advocate in the General Assembly in favor of the Presbyterian Church’s consideration of a virulently anti-Israel divestment resolution. The resolution, which calls for the church to divest from three companies that allegedly profit from Israel’s occupation (Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett-Packard), will be voted on later today by the full plenary after it was passed in committee earlier this week.

There is much to criticize about the problematic nature of the resolution itself, but one of the more disturbing elements of this campaign has been Jewish Voice for Peace’s aggressive lobbying for it.

The group invested significant time and resources to send a delegation of activists to the General Assembly who reportedly testified on the committee floor in favor of divestment and are live-tweeting the conference. A large portion of Twitter chatter about the resolution has been generated by JVP using the hashtag “#churchdivest” to provide updates on the resolution. Of tweets using that hashtag in the last 36 hours, approximately 25% have been generated by JVP and two of its staff people.

JVP activists have also created and distributed a flier called “Divest from Violence. Invest in Peace” which contains several statements from Christians who support divestment, and is circulating a petition that calls on Presbyterians to support divestment. The petition claims that the international community has failed in its efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and it is clear that BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) is now the only option left. The petition ends with, “Can you tell Presbyterians we’ve got their back?”

It is clear that JVP believes it has a very critical role to play in the domestic anti-Israel agenda: JVP promotes itself as representing the views of American Jews and can be seen as trying to provide cover against claims that the Presbyterian divestment initiatives are anti-Semitic. Nobody should be fooled. JVP is a fringe organization with its own anti-Israel agenda.

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