Rabbi Saperstein: "This BDS effort will not advance the cause of peace nor will it improve the lives of Palestinians or Israelis."
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JULY 6, 2012, WASHINGTON DC – In response to the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s rejection of the call to divest from companies doing business with Israel, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
On behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, with membership of more than 1800 Reform rabbis, we welcome the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s decision not to divest from companies doing business with Israel. We share the church's interest in advancing the cause of peace between Israel and her neighbors. Divestment, along with boycotts and sanctions, are not the way to achieve that goal in the context of the Israeli – Palestinian relationship. Such BDS proposals are misguided, unjustified, and harmful, doing nothing to advance the cause of peace or improve the lives of Palestinians or Israelis. BDS proposals like those before the PC(USA) reflect an unfair, one-sided viewpoint that blame Israel for the failure to achieve peace in the Middle East without acknowledging the responsibilities and actions of the Palestinians.
The PC(USA) at its past four General Assemblies has rejected calls for BDS targeted only at Israeli companies. We are deeply appreciative of the persistence of the many national and local leaders who continue to reject this counter-productive approach in the face of such persistent pressure. We commend the Reform Movement's local rabbis and lay leaders who reached out to Presbyterian colleagues and interfaith partners to ensure that this initiative was unsuccessful. At the same time, this speaks of the need to do more to educate church members and others about the realities of BDS and Israel’s relationship with the Palestinian people. We offer our help in doing so.
Additionally, after yesterday's laudable decision to oppose divestment from companies that do business with Israel, we were disappointed to see that new resolutions were adopted today in support of boycotts of settlement goods. As we have often said, boycotts and divestment policies do not reflect a balanced approach to the challenges of Middle East peace and are counter-productive to achieving that goal which we all share.
We hope that PC(USA)'s leadership and General Assembly will forego consideration of similar proposals at future gatherings and instead will work toward a more positive and constructive approach to promoting peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis. Visit www.rac.org for more.