Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Divestment ‘Replaced’: Reform Jewish Movement Welcomes New Presbyterian ‘Overture’

Pelavin: Today the Presbyterian Church got it right.

Contact: Emily Kane or Naomi Greenspan
202.387.2800 |

WASHINGTON, DC, June, 21, 2006 – Today the Presbyterian Church got it right.  The decision by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to “replace” its one-side policy calling for divestment from some companies doing business in Israel sends a clear and powerful message that the church will no longer condone economic isolation of Israel.  It makes clear that progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians is a standard by which policies must be considered, and the church will not support policies, like divestment, which impede such progress. 

I had the honor, on behalf of the Reform Jewish Movement, of being the only Jewish representative invited to speak at the General Assembly.  In the time I spent at the General Assembly, I was consistently impressed with the purposeful, and prayerful, approach of the Commissioners (delegates).  This result is a tribute to their seriousness of purpose, and their open-minded consideration of the proposals before them. 

It has been a long two years since the Presbyterian Church adopted its deeply flawed “Overture” calling for a process of, in their less-than-felicitous phrase, “phased, selective divestment” from companies doing business in Israel.  During those two years, Israel has withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and chosen a new Prime Minister who was elected on a platform of moving toward a future with two states living side by side.  At the same time, the Palestinians elected a legislature controlled by Hamass, who remain unrepentant supporters of terrorism and refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

On the American front, however, these two years have been marked, perhaps ironically, by increased conversation and dialogue between Jews and Presbyterians.  In no small part in response to the divestment resolution, there has been a tremendous increase in both the quantity and depth of our dialogue.  It is that dialogue which paved the way for the General Assembly’s decision today.

We welcome, as well, the Church’s call for a “new season of mutual understanding and dialogue” between Presbyterians and Jews, and commit ourselves to working to bring about that much-needed season.

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Note: Mr. Pelavin is available to the press for comments and interviews.   A photo is available at

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 1800 Reform rabbis.

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