Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On Investment and Divestment

Let's face it; this latest round of Presbyterian divestment is not so much about showing support for Palestinians as much as it is about punishing Israel. The money is really not all that consequential, and instead it is more of a symbolic gesture that Israel somehow is once again not being good enough.

Personally, whenever Israel is singled out, it always feels like Antisemitism, even if the assembly denies that accusation up and down. They claim they are not influenced by the so-called BDS movement and believe in Israel's solemn right to exist. And yet, they once again, fail to understand the modern history of Israel and they deny the complexity of events in the Middle East.

I have been involved in Jewish-Presbyterian dialogues in the past. The ones who actually want to dialogue come to the table, where we are able to have important and informative conversations. However, the slim majority involved in this latest round of divestment, have no real interest in dialogue. Instead, they are only interested in placing blame squarely on Israel.

They forget the massive rounds of suicide bomber attacks that resulted in the building of the wall. They forget that Israel not only has the right to defend herself, but also the sacred obligations to her citizens to do so. They forget that Israel is the only lasting and enduring democracy in the Middle East where human rights are respected, and where one can actually seek redress from courts of justice. They forget the missiles and mortars constantly raining down along her many borders.

They forget this and instead buy into the fallacy of the term apartheid. Apartheid was a very specific action and set of policies in South Africa to keep the South Africans majority in a constant state of repression. Israel is not an apartheid state. And to use the term denigrates the suffering of South Africans and inhibits real legitimate discussions about possible solutions for Israel.

Israel would love nothing more than to live at peace with her neighbors. But how can she do that when they won't even acknowledge her right to exist. How can she hope to do that when her neighbors slaughter each other over a division in Islam dating back to the 7th century CE? 

It is far too easy to simply blame Israel. If the Presbyterians are serious, how about they work with Israel and the Palestinians towards a sustainable and just peace?! But that is just wishful thinking when you can just place your money in the stock market and support companies that help with the mass slaughter and injustices elsewhere in the world like Syria, Egypt and Iraq. So why not do that? Because there it isn't Israel's fault!

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