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Sometimes a situation that appears hopeless is actually poised for a new beginning - when the apparent hopelessness reflects acceptance that conventional wisdom has utterly failed to bring about solutions and that solutions require actions that conventional wisdom has blocked.

Next week, Presbyterians meeting in Detroit will have a historic opportunity to help change the fundamental dynamics of the Israel-Palestine conflict in a way that will bring a just resolution of the conflict closer. They'll be considering divestment from three companies - Caterpillar, Motorola and Hewlett Packard - that are significantly tied to the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

When I refer to the "Israeli occupation of Palestine," I mean by "Palestine" the areas of historical Palestine that were militarily occupied by Israel in 1967 - Gaza and the West Bank including East Jerusalem - which have been the focus of Palestinian national aspirations for an independent state since 1974, and which were implicitly recognized as "Palestine" by 138 countries when they voted 138-9 to accord "Palestine" non-member observer state status in the United Nations on November 29, 2012.

Caterpillar's bulldozers have been used to demolish Palestinian homes (a Caterpillar bulldozer killed American peace activist Rachel Corrie when she tried to block the Israeli destruction of a Palestinian home in Gaza.) Motorola supplies Israeli military occupation forces in the West Bank. Hewlett-Packard has supplied the Israeli military with products to administer the Israeli blockade of Gaza and to maintain checkpoints that control Palestinian movement in the West Bank.

The most important reference point for non-Presbyterians to judge the morality and wisdom of the divestment that the Presbyterians are poised to consider is the context of failed diplomatic efforts for the last twenty years to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

For the last twenty years, the fundamental dynamics of efforts to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict have been:

1) The anti-occupation forces in Israel have not nearly been strong enough politically to defeat the pro-occupation forces. On the contrary, the pro-occupation forces in Israel have dramatically increased their political power and the anti-occupation forces in Israel have dramatically lost political power. This dynamic is exemplified by the participation of West Bank settlers adamantly opposed to Palestinian independence as ministers in the current Israeli government.

2) The United States government has dominated the process of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. Historically, Arab diplomacy to resolve the conflict was based on the assumption that at the end of the day, the U.S. government would pressure the Israeli government into taking actions necessary to achieve a political resolution of the conflict. But the U.S. government has proved incapable of doing this, because of the political power of the pro-occupation lobby in Washington. This dynamic was exemplified when the Obama Administration failed in its efforts to compel the Israeli government to freeze its expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

3) Therefore, if there is going to be a just resolution of the conflict, effective pressure on the Israeli government to agree to a just resolution is going to have to come from outside of Washington.

4) The same pro-occupation forces that have blocked Washington from taking effective action to pressure the Israeli government to accept a just resolution of the conflict are understandably opposed to any effort to go around them by imposing pressure on the Israeli government in other arenas.

5) However, the political strength of the pro-occupation forces is much less outside of Washington and has been decreasing outside of Washington much more rapidly.

This is the political context in which Presbyterians will consider divestment from three companies linked to the Israeli occupation of Palestine, when they meet next week in Detroit.

If the Presbyterians vote yes on divestment - which they well might, given that at their assembly two years ago, divestment failed very narrowly - non-Presbyterians will hear that as support for the key ideas that:
1) increased pressure on the Israeli government is essential to resolving the conflict;
2) there is no visible prospect that the necessary pressure on the Israeli government will come from Washington; and
3) therefore, institutions like the Presbyterian Church will have to take the task of pressuring the Israeli government into their own hands if they want to see a just resolution to the conflict.

You can sign your support for Presbyterian divestment from the Israeli occupation here and you can find an image to show your support of Presbyterian divestment from the occupation here.

Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy.

Poll

I hope the Presbyterians vote to oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine

67%55 votes
32%27 votes

| 82 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  the nationalistic right (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SCFrog, Black Mare, Celtic Merlin

    good to oppose where ever they are.

  •  I agree that the Israeli occupation (4+ / 0-)

    is heavy-handed, but to be a Jew in Israel is to be constantly wondering when the next attack will come.

    The Palestinians have been intransigent, continuing to support the killing of Jews and supporting terror tactics.

    The big difference between the two is that an Arab can be an Israeli citizen and sit in the Knesset. No equivalent situation exists in Palestine or elsewhere in the Arab world.

    Millions of Germans civilians were brutally expelled from their homes in Eastern Europe after WWII and hundreds of thousands of them died.  None of them or their descendants engaged in a postwar campaign of terror against the peoples who supplanted them.  They simply moved inside the reduced borders of Germany and eventually prospered.

    I understand that the nature of the Israeli occupation makes prosperity difficult for the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza.  Giving up the jihad mentality would serve the Palestinians well; indeed there are many signs this is slowly happening as we saw in the Vatican last weekend.

    This resolution is just the kind of grandstanding by the ultra-liberal elites that dominate legacy Protestant bodies that encourages less liberal congregations to leave the national organization.  Its better to pick your battles wisely and choose relevance over ultra-purity.

    •  More than ten times as many Palestinians (7+ / 0-)

      have been killed in the conflict as Israelis. In fact, everything you claim is true of The Palestinians is in fact true of Israel. Israel regularly and intentionally kills civilians. Israel is also continually expanding settlements and taking more land from Palestine. Israel doesn't want the war to end because Israel wants all of the land between the Jordan and the sea. They have made this perfectly clear by their actions.

      Millions of Germans civilians were brutally expelled from their homes in Eastern Europe after WWII and hundreds of thousands of them died.  None of them or their descendants engaged in a postwar campaign of terror against the peoples who supplanted them.  They simply moved inside the reduced borders of Germany and eventually prospered.
      Germany also committed genocide. There is no comparison.

      No War but Class War

      by AoT on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 04:08:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The comparison was (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        livosh1

        between how the expelled Germans dealt with their misfortune and how the Palestinians don't seem to want to move on.  Victimhood, no matter how well-deserved, palls with time.  And thanks for not giving a shit about the German refugees, all of whom clearly deserved their fate, even the children and infants.

        I did say the occupation was heavy-handed.  But I guess all those photos of Palestinian kids wearing toy suicide vests are fake, huh?

      •  That's B.S. (0+ / 0-)

        Israel avoids intentional killing of civilians, although it does happen in war, at the cost of her own people.

        Let the well-being of your fellow man be as dear to you as your own. -- Pirkei Avos

        by Not A Bot on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 09:55:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Maybe you should find out (4+ / 0-)

      what it's like to be a Palestinian.  Wondering when the next attack will come and having absolutely no defense against an American-supported massive army with the heaviest, most modern weapons available.  Or the biggest bulldozers to level your house.

      Look at statistics for a start. Ieraelis rarely die at the hands of Palestinians.  Palestinians aren't as lucky, facing death and imprisonment for protesting settlements every day.

      Not to mention annexation, border control, Israeli-only freeways that fracture towns...no end, really.

      You use post-war Germany as an example but leave out the fact that they were rebuilt with funds of the victor.  Look what Germany did after WWI.

      Palestinians have already embraced nonviolence. BDS is a part of that.

      Your impression of Palestine is kind of 1986.  Time to brush up.

      I think Israel (and/or AIPAC) has a large and problematic influence on our foreign policy and legislation as it relates to Iran and the Middle East. Since I've been hidden for saying this, I expect to be hidden every time I post with this sig.

      by Black Mare on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 04:25:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How do you feel (7+ / 0-)

    about the treatment of Palestinians by Lebanon and Jordan, where Palestinians can't get a job or escape the camps?  They are much worse toward the Palestinians than Israel, but nobody calls for a boycott of Lebanon or Jordan.  I wonder why?

    How do you feel about the rockets flying from Gaza into Israel?

    •  Too many people here don't care about it (4+ / 0-)

      They just like a way to dog-whistle about "the Jews".

      Which is why after diary after diary about Israel and the Palestinians have been written, but nary a dairy about what you expressed.

      Because if they truly did care about the Palestinians they would write diaries about the issue you brought up!

      Never underestimate stupid. Stupid is how reTHUGlicans win!

      by Mannie on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 01:51:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You care. Have you written a diary about it? nt (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Black Mare, AoT, Celtic Merlin

        ...wispy longings for a time before Elvis and the Beatles, back when "a girl could cook and still would". You know before the troubles.~Hunter.

        by denig on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 03:32:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  "The Jews"? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Celtic Merlin, merrylib

        Really?

        You mean the Israeli Right?  There's a difference.

        I think Israel (and/or AIPAC) has a large and problematic influence on our foreign policy and legislation as it relates to Iran and the Middle East. Since I've been hidden for saying this, I expect to be hidden every time I post with this sig.

        by Black Mare on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 04:39:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I guess the dog whistle concept has escaped you (0+ / 0-)

          Never underestimate stupid. Stupid is how reTHUGlicans win!

          by Mannie on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 06:17:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I wrote the Dog Whistle Code glossary (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            petral

            at dKosopedia. So hokh mir nit kayne chaynig.

            I have not only written about the treatment of Palestinians in various countries, I have done something about it. Have a look at a UN-sponsored project I contribute to.

            Sharing in Gaza

            Lebanon is included.

            I am also a co-author of Bypassing Internet Censorship, available in a number of languages, including Arabic and Farsi.

            Neither Israelis nor Palestinians nor neighboring Arab and other Muslims have clean hands in the Middle East, any more than European powers or the US. But that does not matter. One makes peace with enemies, not friends, and with former oppressors, not the Righteous.

            The arguments against making peace between Israel and Palestine are the same as the arguments against making peace with IRA terrorists in Northern Ireland or ANC terrorists in South Africa. They also do not matter.

            It always seems impossible until it's done.
            Nelson Mandela

            What matters is removing perverse incentives for bad behavior and increasing pressure for better behavior, whether the participants like it or not. Divestment is an excellent strategy, no matter who proposes it and no matter what their purpose. Because the outcome will not depend on who proposed it or why. When the parties are forced to negotiate, they themselves will decide what outcome they can live with, as South Africa accepted Black rule in a White-dominated economy.

            I look forward to the day when Israelis and Palestinians are free to cooperate economically and in other ways. Living well, they say, is the best revenge.

            Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

            by Mokurai on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 11:48:52 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Lebanon and Jordan (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Celtic Merlin

      have a history with the camps.  No one is claiming otherwise.  But refugee camps are not settlements.

      And the bad history is pretty old, as in we're on the next generation or the one after that.

      Refugees cannot work no matter where.  Many Palestinians have settled elsewhere, but it requires money.

      Speaking of camps, Sabra, Shatilla....

      I think Israel (and/or AIPAC) has a large and problematic influence on our foreign policy and legislation as it relates to Iran and the Middle East. Since I've been hidden for saying this, I expect to be hidden every time I post with this sig.

      by Black Mare on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 04:37:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Because they're not Joooozzz (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Al Abama, Mannie
  •  Christian fundies are circling the wagons (0+ / 0-)

    and are now starting to out-right turn against the Jewish people. There is no longer even a false concern for Israel anymore.

    Sadly, I am not shocked as the Christian teahadist party (GOP) has recently primaried their only Jewish member in congress.

    I expect crap like this to only gain more momentum.

    Never underestimate stupid. Stupid is how reTHUGlicans win!

    by Mannie on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 01:57:34 PM PDT

  •  FYI, Presbyterian isn't a denomination per se (4+ / 0-)

    Rather it is a form of Church polity.  In the USA, there are two main branches of Presbyterianism, the PCUSA (liberal) and the conservative denominations in North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC), which include the PCA, OPC, EPC, and a bunch of smaller ones.

    This vote is the PCUSA.  The PCUSA is about 1.75M, while NAPAC is around 500K.

    While the PCA and OPC are conservative and evangelical, there is nothing theologically that ties them to supporting the state of Israel as they do not subscribe to dispensational eschatology.

  •  More information on the issue comes from (9+ / 0-)

    The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, which is a national coalition of more than 400 groups working to end U.S. support for Israel's occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. In a recent email, the campaign notes that last year "Presbyterian divestment lost by just one vote." It also reports:

    the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation just recently divested all of their holdings from occupation profiteer G4S. This is a huge victory for the movement for Palestinian rights. A victory at the Presbyterian Assembly is within reach and starting this week, organizers on the ground will be working around-the-clock to support Presbyterians in standing on the right side of history.

    The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

    by ybruti on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 02:29:31 PM PDT

    •  Could you send a link from the Gates Foundation? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mannie

      Lots of investors sell stock for lots of different reasons.  

      i find it hard to believe too, but I understand that some investors sell stock in companies that do business with Israel for purely economic reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the "occupation."  Whenever this happens, the anti-Israel crowd of course claims this as a "victory" even though it had nothing to do with support for BDS.

      All the news stories I can find about this are from biased and unreliable sources like Mondoweiss.

      Can you provide a single quote from Bill Gates, or from the Gates Foundation, that says they sold this stock because of their "support for Palestinian rights"?

      •  Bloomberg: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Celtic Merlin

        http://www.bloomberg.com/...

        It mentions the connection between G4S and Israel but doesn't say it was the reason for the sale.

      •  Anna Baltzer writes (June 8): (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Celtic Merlin, merrylib, Black Mare
        Bloomberg News has confirmed that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation divested all $184 million of its holdings in G4S following an international, Palestinian-led campaign urging the foundation to end investments in the British private security company that helps run Israeli prisons that hold and torture Palestinian prisoners. In the U.S., G4S also operates privatized juvenile detention facilities and works with Homeland Security to detain and deport people across the U.S./Mexico border and transport immigrants to detention facilities nationwide.

        On the heels of Gates' divestment, public pressure from well-known leaders, and activists' disruption of the company's annual shareholder meeting, G4S announced that it intends to pull out of Israeli prisons completely. Until it does, the campaigns targeting G4S will and must continue, but this welcome announcement shows the incredible power of divestment and international pressure.
        http://www.endtheoccupation.org/...

        The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right. -- Judge Learned Hand, May 21, 1944

        by ybruti on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 05:15:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  G4S will let their Israeli prison contracts expire (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ybruti

          http://www.bdsmovement.net/...

          British-Danish multinational security and prison profiteering firm G4S is to pull out of Israeli prisons completely, the Financial Times reports this morning.

          Campaigners have given a cautious welcome to the news, but emphasize that pressure on the company must continue until the abuses it is complicit in end. They note that G4S has made misleading statements in the past.
          G4S has confirmed that it will end all its Israeli prison contracts within the next three years after an annual general meeting that was severely disrupted by human rights protesters. Asked by angry protesters whether G4S would withdraw from the Palestinian territories as reported by the Financial Times last year, Ashley Almanza, chief executive, confirmed “no change to that position.”

          “We expect them to expire and we don’t expect to renew them,” he said. These include contracts to provide security and screening equipment at military checkpoints, the controversial Ofer prison and a police station in the West Bank, all of which are expected to expire next year.

          But Mr Almanza said for the first time that the move would also include prison service contracts all over Israel.

  •  Anti-BDS Resolution (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mannie, Zornorph

    i understand that the student government of Western Washington University passed a bill stating that it will not consider divestment resolutions from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

  •  Thanks for this diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Black Mare, Robert Naiman

    A good friend is on the MRTI (Mission Responsibility Through Investment committee) and keeps us posted on their work.  Many of us have been avoiding Caterpillar for the last 6-8 years because of the reports submitted to the annual General Assembly.

    Even when the PSUSA fails to take a stand, individual members who pay attention may change their investment choices.  We will see how the voting goes this year.

    The truth always matters.

    by texasmom on Thu Jun 12, 2014 at 05:57:15 PM PDT

  •  The "Israeli occupation of Palestine" (0+ / 0-)

    can also be viewed as the "Arab occupation of Samaria and Judea."  Perspective is everything.  It's very easy, sitting on the solid, peaceful bedrock of the good old USA to forget that every inch of land Israel has gained since statehood came only after Arab neighbors began wars with the sole aim of eradicating Jews.

    The recent trend has been:  Israel releases hundreds of Arab prisoners, and Arabs launch missiles and mortars; Israel gives back land; and Arabs launch missiles and mortars, and kidnap civilians; Israel abandons settlements, and Arabs launch missiles and mortars, and kill civilian motorists and throw rocks at buses; Israel provides some of the world's finest medical care, free of charge, to its Arab neighbors, and Arabs launch missiles and mortars and demand more land and demand more released terrorists and kidnap teenagers.

    I'm Jewish, and I'm pretty liberal in a lot of my views, but I'm damned sick of liberals bashing Israel, and overlooking the constant monstrous actions of Israel's Arab neighbors.  How about some consistency, folks?

    Let the well-being of your fellow man be as dear to you as your own. -- Pirkei Avos

    by Not A Bot on Sun Jun 15, 2014 at 09:54:25 PM PDT

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