The Presbyterian Church USA, which is rapidly losing members, has adopted another controversial position. A church committee passed a resolution declaring Israel an apartheid state during its General Assembly this week.
Amendment INT-02, “On Recognition That Israel’s Laws, Policies and Practices Constitute Apartheid Against the Palestinian People,” passed on a 28-3 committee vote. The committee’s recommendation to the General Assembly — which was discussed extensively at the annual meeting– ultimately was approved with an amended version recognizing that the government of Israel’s laws, policies and practices regarding the Palestinian people fulfill the international legal definition of apartheid.
“This overture is pursued with the hope it will lead to a peaceful reconciliation for the people of Israel and Palestine similar to that which occurred in South Africa when apartheid was internationally acknowledged,” the resolution said.
The document compares Israel’s policies in the West Bank to apartheid in South Africa when there “was serious injustice, widespread suffering and major human rights abuses in South Africa because of apartheid laws, practices and policies that established a preferential legal status and material privileges to one group of people based on their identity while discriminating against another group based on their inferior status.”
Much of the debate in the committee centered on condemning the Israeli government’s policies without condemning the Israeli people. The motion was one of four about Israel and Palestine, including a “statement of concern for the peace of Jerusalem” and a “Call for Ending the Siege of Gaza and Collective Punishment of Innocent Palestinian and Israeli Citizens.”
A small but vocal group of protesters with Philos Action league, a Christian organization that stands in solidarity with the Jewish community, waited outside the committee proceedings to lobby voting members to oppose the resolution. The group said the resolution mirrors the language of recent Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry reports.
“Sadly, the International Committee of Presbyterian Church USA passed the motion to label Israel an apartheid state,” deputy director Luke Moon tweeted. “They ignored our plea to reject antisemitism and sunk further in their Jew hatred. Lord, in your wrath, remember mercy.”
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice