An official of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) sees a hopeful sign in the adoption of a boycott resolution by the 220th General Assembly.
On July 5, the assembly voted 457-180 for a call to boycott products produced by Israelis on occupied Palestinian land.
In a news release, Jeffrey DeYoe, the IPMN advocacy chair, says the vote shows that “Presbyterians have heard the call for economic solidarity from Palestinians, including Palestinian Christians.” DeYoe said in the release that the IPMN “looks forward to assisting the church in determining which products will be included in the boycott.”
The assembly voted against divestment from three companies that supply security- related equipment to Israel – Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. The Committee on Middle East Peacemaking Issues had approved the divestment measure, but the assembly opted instead for a call for positive engagement and development of a plan for investments in the West Bank.
DeYoe says in the release that “a full plenary discussion on divestment never took place.” He says the vote to boycott all Israeli products made in occupied Palestinian territories puts the PC(USA) squarely into a “boycott, divestment and sanctions movement” launched in Palestine in 2005 and endorsed by Palestinian Christians in 2009 I the “Kairos Palestine” document.
“The IPMN looks forward to assisting the church in determining which products will be included in the boycott,” DeYoe says in the release.
He also calls it a hopeful sign that 57 percent of General Assembly commissioners voted in favor of a resolution directing the church’s Board of Pensions “to create a program for relief of conscience for plan members who are troubled by the choice to continue holding Board of Pensions assets in Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett-Packard.” The motion was later overturned on procedural grounds by ruling by Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons.
The news release quotes Katherine Cunningham, IPMN vice moderator, as saying that a few years ago, “any one of these things would have been considered a significant victory for divestment and boycott supporters.”
Cunningham is quoted as saying the church has “moved slowly but surely” toward positions held by the IPMN on matters such as a boycott of beauty products and dates produced for export by Israel on occupied Palestinian land.
“We believe it’s only a matter of time before the church catches up on divestment too,” she said.
Established by the 2004 General Assembly, the Israel/Palestine Mission Network promotes deeper involvement by congregations and other church groups in issues related to Palestinian rights.