Rachel Lerner is the Senior Vice President for Community Relations at J Street and a friend. She attended this week the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Detroit in which she spoke on a panel where she urged Presbyterian commissioners to vote against an anti-Israel resolution supporting divestment of church funds from companies doing business in the West Bank (BDS) and called upon the Church to reconsider its support of a two-states for two-peoples resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Her letter appears here with links to all relevant documents. http://jstreet.org/blog/post/my-speech-to-the-presbyterians_1
I wrote about the Presbyterian Church (USA) in July 2012 after a terrorist attack against Jews in Bulgaria. My primary thrust then was to harshly criticize the Church’s insensitivity to Jews and to characterize the Church’s support of BDS as “anti-Israel.”
The following is part of what I wrote then:
“Israel is not a perfect society. No democracy is. Thus, being a critic of Israeli policies does not mean one is automatically anti-Israel. Indeed, Israelis themselves are among the most self-critical citizens of any nation in the world.
However, when individuals and groups consistently criticize one nation and one nation alone, one has to question such people’s deeper motivations and agenda.
After watching for several years the Presbyterian Church USA’s efforts on behalf of the BDS movement, those advocating for it I believe are unfair criticizers and part of the “anti-Israel camp.”
By “anti-Israel camp” I refer to those individuals and organizations whose criticism of Israel goes far beyond what is factual, reasonable and fair. These people rarely if ever voice criticism against Hamas’ or Fatah’s documented human rights violations against their own populations. They rarely if ever criticize human rights violations in other countries against which Israeli policies vis a vis Palestinians in the West Bank (as bad as they can be) pale by comparison. And they ignore the history of this conflict which gives context for current events.”
I would hope that good people who are members of that Church and who are not anti-Israel will vote against the aggressive group of anti-Israel Church members who have consistently shown their animus towards the state of Israel and the Jewish people by unfairly attacking her and her alone among all nations in the world.
I conclude by saying in my role as a national co-chair of the Rabbinic Cabinet of J Street that includes 800 rabbis and cantors from all America’s religious streams that I am grateful to Rachel for walking into this den of lions and standing up for the dignity of the Jewish people and best interests of the state of Israel. She deserves the thanks of the American Jewish community and Israel for doing so.