Sunday, June 18, 2006

GA 217 Peacemaking Committee Votes to Replace Divestment Language

GA 217 Peacemaking Committee Votes to Replace Divestment Language:

The Committee on Peacemaking and International Issues voted last night 53-6 to make the following change in the previous General Assembly's directive. The PC(USA) news release said that this issue could be revisited today (Sunday), and that a minority report may be forthcoming.

"We acknowledge that the actions of the 216th General Assembly caused hurt and misunderstanding among many members of the Jewish community and within our Presbyterian communion. We are grieved by the pain that this has caused, accept responsibility for the flaws in our process, and ask for a new season of mutual understanding and dialogue.

To these ends, we replace the instructions expressed in Item 12-01 (Minutes, 2004 Part I, pp. 64-66) item 7, which reads

"7. Refers to Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI) with instructions to initiate a process of phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel, in accordance to General Assembly policy on social investing, and to make appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly Council for action."

with the following:

To urge that financial investments of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), as they pertain to Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, be invested in only peaceful pursuits, and affirm that the customary corporate engagement process of the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment of our denomination is the proper vehicle for achieving this goal."

I feel the Peacemaking Committee has made a choice that will lead to peacemaking. Our Jewish friends have been hurt and bewildered by the apparent one-sided action of the 216th General Assembly and felt that they were being unjustly blamed and punished for the problems that exist in the Middle East. Joining the Jewish community are many Presbyterians who feel that the actions of 2004 need to revisited in light of intervening events as well as concerns for justice.

I see in this action a shift from a punitive approach to a pastoral approach -- one more in keeping with what it means to be a peacemaker. I hope the lopsided vote truly reflects the committee's wish to correct the mistakes of 2004.

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