The governing body of the Presbyterian Church USA on Friday recognized that the laws, policies, and practices of the government of Israel concerning the Palestinian people, “fulfill the international legal definition of apartheid.”
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The resolution passed in a 266-116 vote during the church’s biannual General Assembly (GA), which took place in Louisville, Kentucky and online.
The decision was met with criticism by numerous Christian groups.
Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg, director of United Nations Relations and Strategic Partnerships for the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), called the measure, “an insult to Jews and Christians alike which damages interfaith relations.”
“PCUSA leadership has violated G-d’s commandment not to bear false witness, rendered itself irrelevant in the world of peacemaking, and made a mockery of honest dialogue and interfaith relations,” Greenberg said following the vote.
Officials with The Wiesental Center argued that PCUSA leaders “rigged” the resolution, also known as an overture, by giving church members false and misleading information.
“We denounce this rigged process and false resolution that libels the Jewish nation and Judaism,” remarked Rabbi Abraham Cooper, SWC’s Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action and Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein Director of Interfaith Affairs. “It takes place under the administration of an anti-Semitic Stated Clerk, Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, and is the culmination of a decade-long anti-Israel, anti-Jewish agenda from the church’s leadership in Louisville.”
Prior to the vote, the American Jewish Congress (AJC) labeled the resolution as “unjust” and “just plain wrong,” then encouraged the GA to reject the resolution.
“We urge the PCUSA assembly at large to swiftly vote down this clear example of antisemitic, anti-Israel disparagement,” AJC said.
The activist group Presbyterian for Middle East Peace (PfMEP) pointed out that the resolution breaches PCUSA’s own policies.
“The overture violates PCUSA policy, effectively demanding that Israel end its own existence and deny Jews the right of self-determination. It is important to note that seventy percent of PCUSA commissioners voted to approve this,” said PfMEP Pastor John Wimberly. “But 70 percent of Presbyterians would not agree.”
CBN Israel previously reported that PCUSA membership is slowly diminishing and that its congregations have declined for decades due in part to embracing liberal views.
Since its founding in 1983, this branch of the Presbyterian Church has fallen from 3,121,238 members to 1,193,770, a 62 percent loss.